#BookReview WINDSWEPT by ANNABEL ABBS #NonFiction #Windswept



ABOUT THE BOOK


Annabel Abbs’s Windswept: Walking the Paths of Trailblazing Women is a beautifully written meditation and memoir that reflects on that most fundamental way of connecting with the outdoors: the simple act of walking. In absorbing and transporting prose, Abbs follows in the footsteps of groundbreaking women, including Georgia O’Keeffe in the empty plains of Texas and New Mexico, Nan Shepherd in the mountains of Scotland, Gwen John following the French River Garonne, Daphne du Maurier following the River Rhône, and Simone de Beauvoir—who walked as much as twenty-five miles a day in a skirt and espadrilles—in the mountains and forests of France. These trailblazing women were reclaiming what had historically been considered male domains.

The stories of these incredible women and artists are laced together by the wilderness walking in Abbs’s own life, beginning with her poet father who raised her in the Welsh countryside as an “experiment,” according to the principles of Rousseau. Windswept is an inventive retrospective and an arresting look forward to the way walking brings about a kind of clarity of thought not found in any other activity, and how it has allowed women throughout history to reimagine their lives and break free from convention. As Abbs traces the paths of these exceptional women, she realizes that she, too, is walking away from, and towards, a very different future. Windswept crosses continents and centuries in an arresting and stirring reflection on the power of walking in nature.

PUBLISHED BY TWO ROADS

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

Blackwell’s

hive.co.uk

MY REVIEW

Just glorious!! I found this book to be inspiring, thought provoking, educational, fascinating and just wonderful!

The author uses her own life experiences, especially when she found herself in hospital unable to walk, to explore the art of walking and the fact that there was very few books around by women about walking and their adventures, when there are so many by men. With extensive research she uncovers some amazing characters – many of whom I had heard nothing about – and has brought their stories to life by challenging herself to walk the routes they did in the past, and this really just makes this book so immersive and inspiring.

The women she features are Frieda Lawrence, Gwen John, Clara Vyvyan, Nan Shepherd, Simone de Beauvoir, Georgia O’Keefe, but there is also reference to Daphne Du Maurier and Emma Gatewood.
All very different women but all sharing a deep passion for walking, exploring – and shockingly for women – walking by themselves!! The shame!! But in their adventures they enjoyed the freedom it gave them and allowed them to find their own minds, and the author shared these feelings as she uses each chapter to share her walk, alongside that of the woman she was walking in the footsteps of. There’s a look back in time to the lives of these amazing women, their trials and tribulations, the scandals, alongside her own experiences and thoughts on the changes over time as to the attitudes towards a variety of different topics.

It explores the benefits to your health of walking, the stories of the kindness of strangers met along the way, the pitfalls and reality of walking in the middle of nowhere by yourself, and the overwhelming sense of achievement and confidence these women had when they had finished a walk. And how eager they were to go on other adventures. Some weren’t afraid to go against convention, some lost their families over their actions, but most were just inspired by the solace they felt while walking, despite all of them having a real strong attachment to ‘home’ and realising just how little they needed in their lives.

I learnt so much about these women as the author relayed their stories, alongside her own walking experiences and how that time alone gave her time to think over her life choices. Reading about these women, inspired me to research a little more about them and their work and it’s been enlightening to learn more about these amazing women. The way the author connected with each woman also made this more of an experience as she wanted to feel what

It is one of those books that inspires, educates and just makes you want to walk!! To use your time wisely, and when you get the chance to grab that time for yourself and go out exploring, no matter how near or far!

★★★★★

#BLOGTOUR THE HUNTINGFIELD PAINTRESS by PAMELA HOLMES #BOOKREVIEW #LoveBooksTours @UrbaneBooks @Pammieholmes

Hugely delighted to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for The Huntingfield Paintress by Pamela Holmes!  My thanks to the Author, Publisher and Kelly of Love Books Tours for the copy of the book and putting together such a great tour for me to be part of!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Plucky and headstrong Mildred Holland revelled in the eight years she and her husband, the vicar William Holland, spent travelling 1840s Europe, finding inspiration in recording beautiful artistic treasures and collecting exotic artifacts. But William’s new posting in a tiny Suffolk village is a world apart and Mildred finds a life of tea and sympathy dull and stifling in comparison. When a longed-for baby does not arrive, she sinks into despondency and despair. What options exist for a clever, creative woman in such a cossetted environment? A sudden chance encounter fires Mildred’s creative imagination and she embarks on a herculean task that demands courage and passion. Defying her loving but exasperated husband, and mistrustful locals who suspect her of supernatural powers, Mildred rediscovers her passion and lives again through her dreams of beauty. 

Inspired by the true story of the real Mildred Holland and the parish church of Huntingfield in Suffolk, the novel is unique, emotive and beautifully crafted, just like the history that inspired it.  

PUBLISHED BY URBANE PUBLICATIONS

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK  £8.46

hive.co.uk  £6.69

whsmith  £6.47

Author Info


Pamela Holmes was born in Charleston, South Carolina. At the age of eight, she moved with her family to England. She studied nursing at London University as a mature student having spent three years living on a commune in Somerset where she developed a love of gardening, milking cows and laying hedges. She became a health journalist and on-screen reporter. She now works and volunteers to improve the lives of older people including those with dementia, and she sings in a rock band. The Huntingfield Paintress is her first novel. She won the Jane Austen Short Story Award in 2014 and her latest work was awarded Highly Recommended in the HISSAC competition 2015. Pamela is the mother of two boys and lives in London with her husband.

MY REVIEW

Enchanting and Inspiring  were the first words I thought of after finishing this charming story, based on real characters and a true story and it makes you realise the little acts can often be the most impressive and the devotion shown by Mildred Holland shows towards her project was extremely powerful and has meant this story has really touched me.


In 1848, Millie and Wiliam arrive at their new home at the rectory in a quiet little village in Suffolk,  a world away from their normal exotic travels and the routine life that awaits them seems to fill Millie with dread.  She does her best to fit in but often finds the villagers wary of her despite her best efforts to help them and be part of things.  Her husband is busy with his work amongst the parishioners but notices the ever changing moods of his wife but seems unable to lift her spirits.


The church of St Mary’s the Virgin is a very run down little church and captures Millie’s heart and attention and she has the amazing idea to paint the ceiling – she’s seen so many churches on her travel and was drawn to those beautifully decorated so why can’t she do the same in their little church?!  So that’s what she sets her mind to – most unheard of especially by a woman at that time, and even a woman buying a pair of trousers to hide her modesty while she paints turns out to be a big shock!


Her determination is truly mind blowing! she’s not put off by having to lie down for long periods to adorn the ceiling but once she decides on something, she’s not one for turning! Not all the locals are keen on her project though and some will go to desperate lengths to stop her.


As the story progresses you learn more of what drives her – the heartbreaking reasons behind her changing moods, and even her own failiing health fails to stop her as she is determined to finish what she started.


I just loved everything about this book – the characters, the setting and to feature such an amazing woman who I’d never heard about was a revelation and has had me researching her more and the amazing work that she did.  A real treat of a read and a such a wonderful first novel from this author – I can’t wait for more!!


★★★★★


While researching more about this  amazing woman I discovered this great blog post about the church at Huntingfield over at East of Elveden which you can read here

Don’t forget to check out more of the Blog Tour for this amazing book!