#BookReview THE FAIRY TELLERS by NICHOLAS JUBBER #nonfiction


ABOUT THE BOOK


Fairy-Tales are not just fairy-tales: they are records of historical phenomena, telling us something about how Western civilisation was formed. In The Fairy-Tellers’ Trail, award-winning travel-writer Nick Jubber explores their secret history of fairy-tales: the people who told them, the landscapes that forged them, and the cultures that formed them.

While there are certain names inextricably entwined with the concept of a fairy-tale, such as the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, the most significant tellers are long buried under the more celebrated figures who have taken the credit for their stories – people like the Syrian storyteller Youhenna Diab and the Wild Sisters of Cassel. Without them we would never have heard of Aladdin, his Magic Lamp or the adventures of Hansel and Gretel.

Tracking these stories to their sources carries us through the steaming cities of Southern Italy and across the Mediterranean to the dust-clogged alleys of the Maghreb, under the fretting leaves of the Black Forest, deep into the tundra of Siberia and across the snowy hills of Lapland.

From North Africa and Siberia, this book illuminates the complicated relationship between Western civilization and the ‘Eastern’ cultures it borrowed from, and the strange lives of our long lost fairy-tellers

PUBLISHED BY JOHN MURRAY PRESS

PUBLICATION DATE – 

20TH JANUARY 2022

PRE-ORDER LINKS

KINDLE
AMAZON
BLACKWELL’S

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nick Jubber is an award-winning travel writer. His journeys have taken him to the Ethiopian highlands, the Afghan lowlands, and the heart of the Sahara. Fascinated by history and its relationship with the present, he explores connections – and mis-connections – across the centuries. In his latest book, this fascination carries him across Europe on a journey from Turkey to Iceland. He has been shortlisted three times for the prestigious Stanford Dolman award (and won it for his debut, ‘The Prester Quest’), and has spoken at major literary festivals including Hay-on-Wye, Edinburgh and Cheltenham. His website is http://www.nickjubber.com and he is on twitter at @jubberstravels

MY REVIEW


This is a truly wonderful book about the origins and storytellers behind the most magical fairy tales that we all take for granted! It’s only when I picked this book up that I realised I knew very little, if anything at all, about how they came to be, and about the people that wrote them! So this book has enlightened me in so many ways, and has just made me want to pick up all the old fairy tales I have to enjoy them once more, and see beyond the ‘Disney’ magic and get a bit more of an understanding and deeper sense of the story behind the story! so to speak!

This is a book that covers geography as it takes you all over the world, history as it looks at the goings on around the writers at the time they wrote them, and all the folk tales that inspired the storytellers to put pen to paper and create these wonderful stories that we all know and love so much.

As well as the well known writers who receive all the plaudits for the fairy tales – Hans Christian Andersen and The Brothers Grimm – it also does a wonderful job of introducing the many other brilliant storytellers such as Hanna Diyab (Aladdin and Ali Baba), Dortchen Wild and Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve (Beauty and the Beast) to name but a few, and gives you a real insight into their stories and what inspired or prompted them to write.

You really get a great sense of the extensive research that this author has put into this piece of work. He travels across the globe to find out more about these authors and their backgrounds and showing how often the messages behind these stories are often a lot darker and deeper than they appear on the surface. And I think that is why they work on so many levels to different readers. To a child the stories appear full of magic and wonder, to an adult we see the hidden depths to each tale and notice a lot more going on. Many of the writers had such fascinating and often tragic life stories themselves so you can see the correlation between fact and fiction.

This was a book that has reignited my passion for fairy tales and I’m eager to start picking them up all over again now that I know more about the past of the writers and what led them to create the characters and situations in each tale. A truly fascinating and absorbing piece of writing!


★★★★★

 My thanks to Alice Rowe at The Book Publicist for the advance reader copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview THE WOLF AGE by TORE SKEIE #nonfiction #history #TheWolfAge



ABOUT THE BOOK


A thrilling work of popular history that gives a new perspective on the Viking-Anglo conflicts and brings the bloody period to life.

In the eleventh century, the rulers of the lands surrounding the North Sea are all hungry for power. To get power they need soldiers, to get soldiers they need silver, and to get silver there is no better way than war and plunder. This vicious cycle draws all the lands of the north into a brutal struggle for supremacy and survival that will shatter kingdoms and forge an empire.

The Wolf Age takes the reader on a thrilling journey through the bloody shared history of England and Scandinavia, and across early medieval Europe: from the wild Norwegian fjords to the wealthy cities of Muslim Andalusia. Warfare, plotting, backstabbing and bribery abound as prize-winning historian Tore Skeie weaves together sagas and skaldic poetry with bold dramatization to bring the world of the Vikings and Anglo-Saxons to vivid life.

‘Skeie has a unique ability to conjure images of the richest detail, everything from chaotic battles to the period’s exhausting day-to-day life’ A-MAGASINET

Author:


Tore Skeie is one of Norway’s most acclaimed historians, having written several prize-winning and bestselling works of medieval history. Tore is known for his eye for historical and human drama, while his books have been praised both for their thrilling style and the way they challenge traditional nation-oriented historical narratives. The Wolf Age was a bestseller in Norway, won the prestigious Sverre Steen award and is the first of Tore’s books to be translated into English.


PUBLISHED BY PUSHKIN PRESS

PURCHASE LINK


publisher website

MY REVIEW

Oh how I wish I could turn back the clock and tell the younger me who thought history was boring that it was anything but!! This was a wonderfully absorbing look back at the extraordinary times of the Vikings and Anglo-Saxons – Game of Thrones seems very tame compared to some of the tales of the goings on during the 10th and 11th centuries in this book!!

The author has extensively researched the goings on of the time and presents it in such a fantastically relatable way that I couldn’t put it down! It reads just like a novel, and knowing these things happened just make it even more astounding! There’s a great overview of the characters involved, and the chronology of the events that unfolded and it was just utterly fascinating!

The story ebbs from England to Scandinavia and Medieval Europe and the action never stops! From feuding Kings to raiding Vikings, this is a brutal and political history showing the benefits of alliances and showing the treachery of others, all in the pursuit of power. You can just picture the sight of the ships venturing in to the estuaries and coastal towns around England and there’s also mention of the archeological finds relating to ships of the time and it has just made me so intrigued to find out more about the time .

It features some amazing characters, with amazing names such as Harald Bluetooth, Sweyn Forkbeard, Olaf, Cnut… extraordinary names for extraordinary people! Their quests are epic and often brutal. There’s also a look at the rituals of the time, and the ever changing religions and beliefs of the people of the time. Life was brutal and the intensity of the raids and destruction was just shocking to read about.

A must read for all lovers of all things historical!!

★★★★★

#NetGalleyNovember #MiniReviews How I Wonder What You Are/ Natural Magick/ The Woman in the Woods #bookreviews @NetGalleyNov



 The month of November got off to a good start with me reading 3 prompts from the Netgalley November bingo board… seem to have hit a bit of a slump now though so need to regain my focus and see if I can hit the target for the rest of the month!

so here’s some mini reviews for my first 3 ticks off the bingo board!!


YOUR OLDEST APPROVAL

HOW I WONDER WHAT YOU ARE by JANE LOVERING – 5 STAR

Strange lights in the sky and a naked man on the moors??!! Do you need to know anymore?! It had me hooked from the start and in the characters of Molly and Phinn there’s so much fun that the author had playing with their stories, that it made for such an enjoyable read and a real escape from the realities of life – and has me looking to the skies at night in the hope I can spot my own ‘Alice lights’!

Molly doesn’t know but her life is about to change when she goes out for a horse ride over the moors where she discovers the naked Phinn. Fearing the worst for him, she manages to get him back to safety and the mystery behind him starts to reveal itself. Phinn himself isn’t quite sure what is going, but things soon start to fall into place and you really get the sense that these 2 characters were meant to meet to try and help them resolve the pasts they’d been trying to forget.

I loved Phinn and Molly as a pairing! There’s hurt there, but there’s also compassion towards one another and a real connection that is clear for all to see. There’s great humour throughout the book but also a good look at some interesting developments for each character to work through as there’s so much hurt that they have to work through! Those lights in the skies are around to distract them and bring them closer together! A fabulous read!

BOOK BEGINNING WITH N


NATURAL MAGICK by LINDSAY SQUIRE – 4 STARS

This was one of those books that’s perfect for anyone new to natural magick, or those who’ve been practising for a while! It is beautifully set out, clearly written, easy to follow and full of great illustrations that help you learn so much more about practicing magick in a more natural way.

There’s great descriptions of learning more about the subjects, tools to use, all the different elements, rituals, spells, tarot…. and so much more!

I adored the moon section and have learnt so much and will be putting some of the spells to good use!

For anyone wanting to know more about witchcraft, or just to have everything in a beautifully put together book, then look no further!


YOUR LATEST APPROVAL

 THE WOMAN IN THE WOODS by LISA HALL – 3 STARS

This was a really atmospheric read for me, full of those chilling moments that have you listening out for noises in your own home and sensing the supernatural around you!

When Allie and her family move out of London to a cottage in a haunted village, there’s excitement about their new start! But things never go that smoothly do they?! And soon after the fun(!) begins and Allie is thinking she’s slowly going mad as she starts seeing and hearing things around the cottage – it’s enough to spook anyone! But she’s dismissed by her family and it’s only when she starts talking to locals that the truth about the history of their new cottage comes to light!

From the very evocative opening, this is a story that keeps you on the edge of your seat as it explores a number of subjects including the supernatural, witchcraft and also mental health. The tension is captured really well and I enjoyed the characters portrayed as they all added something a little different, with Allie playing the main role perfectly as you’re going through the anguish with her – is she going mad or is she being played? An enjoyable creepy read!


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#BookReview DANCING FOR STALIN by CHRISTINA EZRAHI #NonFiction #RussianHistory @SarahHarwood_



ABOUT THE BOOK


Nina Anisimova was one of Russia’s most renowned ballerinas and one of the first Soviet female choreographers. Yet few knew that her exemplary career concealed a dark secret.

In 1938, at the height of Stalin’s Great Terror, Nina was arrested by the secret police, accused of being a Nazi spy and sentenced to forced labour in a camp in Kazakhstan. Trapped without hope – and without winter clothes in temperatures of minus 40 degrees – her art was her salvation, giving her a reason to fight for her life.

As Nina struggled to survive in the Gulag, her husband fought for her release in Leningrad. Against all odds, she was ultimately freed and astonishingly managed to return to her former life, just as war broke out. Despite wartime deprivation and the suffocating grip of Stalin’s totalitarian state, Nina’s irrepressible determination set her on the path to become an icon of the Kirov Ballet.

Dancing for Stalin is a remarkable true story of suffering and injustice, of courage, resilience and triumph.

PUBLISHED BY ELLIOT & THOMPSON

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

Wow! If you’re looking for a story about an inspirational woman then look no further! I knew nothing of Nina Anisimova before picking this book up, and was just interested in finding out more about Russian history and I’ve been left gobsmacked by the story of this woman who found herself arrested during the purge of Stalin in 1938, and was sentenced to forced labour in Kazakhstan.

Her story is horrific and inspiring in equal measures as you read what was she was forced to endure under this brutal regime and it really brings home the horrors of life under Stalin. Her husband fought relentlessly on the outside for her release, and their story is made even clearer by the letters they shared and that is where the author found her inspiration. She only came across their story by mistake – what a story to uncover!

Her life before her arrest makes for astonishing reading too, as she rose to the top of the ballet world, and that love for ballet is what kept her going through the toughest times in the labour camps. She would dream of returning to the stage and choreography and you are left in no doubt with her attitude that she was going to achieve that aim, no matter what she was facing on a daily basis.

The background into Russian history was also absolutely fascinating, and seeing how the propoganda and paranoia whipped up by Stalin would make the population so fearful. The treatment of prisoners was horrific and the author pulls no punches in sharing what those locked up had to go through.

The love of her husband was equally powerful – their letters were so touching but always spoke of hope, and he just wouldn’t give up on getting her back. A truly amazing and courageous couple!

An astonishing story that needs to be read to be believed! Powerful!

★★★★★

My thanks to Sarah Harwood for the review copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview LUCKY by ED JACKSON #nonfiction #sports



ABOUT THE BOOK


From tragedy to triumph, one step at a time – an inspirational story of triumph over adversity against the odds

At just 28 years old, Ed Jackson was told he would never walk again. After a miscalculated dive into a pool, he suffered multiple cardiac arrests, a broken neck and a partially severed spinal cord. Lying paralysed in intensive care, the former rugby player knew his life would never be the same. But he wasn’t ready to give up hope.

Driven by relentless determination, Ed embarked on an incredible journey to independence. Millimetre by millimetre, he began to regain movement in his fingers and toes. Defying the expectations of even the most optimistic doctors, step by step, Ed began to walk again.

Fuelled by a renewed appreciation for life and a determination to help others suffering similar injuries to his own, Ed set his sights on a new challenge: mountaineering. Embarking on a gruelling climb to raise funds for a spinal unit in Kathmandu, Ed realises that, once again, the odds are stacked against him. Will he be able to overcome his own life-changing injury and transform others’ lives for the better?

Lucky is the story of how Ed faced the impossible when it seemed all hope was lost, and shows how you, too, can overcome the biggest challenges that life sends your way.


PUBLISHED BY HQ

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

In this book Ed Jackson shares an astonishingly powerful message and I’m in total awe of him and the impact of the positive mental attitude that has helped him come to terms with his accident and not let it stop him! The bravery and determination he shows throughout is inspiring!

As he looks back over the accident that changed his life, he shares important messages about the power of the mind and how being supported by equally positive friends and family, gave him the fight within to look for new opportunities and challenges. It shows how quickly life can change in the blink of an eye and I was left in total admiration as he shared those moments as they unfolded. He would keep setting himself little challenges to inspire himself to keep moving forward mentally and physically and also looked to others who had suffered spinal injuries before him to keep pushing himself.

A brilliant read and an inspirational man!!

★★★★★

#BookReview ON GALLOWS DOWN by NICOLA CHESTER #NonFiction @chelseagreen



ABOUT THE BOOK


Part nature writing, part memoir, On Gallows Down is an essential, unforgettable read for fans of Helen Macdonald, Melissa Harrison and Isabella Tree.

Nicola Chester won the BBC Wildlife Magazine’s Nature Writer of the Year Award – this is her first book.

The story of a life shaped by landscape; of an enduring love of nature and the fierce desire to protect it – living as part of the rural working class in a ‘tied cottage’ on a country estate – and what it takes to feel like you belong.

On Gallows Down is a book about hope – from the rewilding of Greenham Common after the missiles left to how, as a new mother, Nicola walked the chalk hills to give her children roots, teaching them names and waymarks to find their way home. It is about the songs of the nightingale and cuckoo – whose return she waits for – the red kites, fieldfares, skylarks and lapwings that accompany her, the badger cubs she watches at night and the velvety mole she finds in her garden.

And it is also the story of how Nicola came to write and to protest – unearthing the seam of resistance that ran through Newbury’s past, from the Civil Wars to the Swing Riots and the women of the Greenham Common Peace Camps and to the fight against the Newbury bypass. A resistance that continues today against the destruction of hedgerows, trees and wildlife through modern farm estate management.

On Gallows Down is perfect for fans of H is for HawkThe Salt Path and Featherhood.

‘It is impossible to write with integrity about nature without protesting and resisting and waving a desperate red flag.

Isn’t it?’


PUBLISHED BY CHELSEA GREEN PUBLISHING


PUBLICATION DATE – 7TH OCTOBER 2021

PRE-ORDER LINKS


Publisher Website

Amazon


MY REVIEW


This is a book that inspires you to appreciate the nature around us as the author does a wonderful job of combining her personal experiences over the years, amidst the backdrop of the ever changing world we find ourselves living in.


This is a memoir of Nicola Chester, who has found herself protesting over the years to protect the environment in various locations whilst bringing up her family, and doing what she can to pass on the knowledge and love of wildlife and nature to her children and those around her. I have nothing but admiration for this woman after reading about her life experiences, and how she writes so passionately about the natural world. Her enthusiasm is infectious and I share the same anticipation as her awaiting wildlife sightings whilst you’re out for a walk.


I knew very little about some of the areas she talks about, but she brings them to life with her writing style and I also found myself googling pictures of the area to get more of a feel for the areas that meant so much to her over the years, and those areas that she fought so passionately to save and protect.


With her husband, she moved around the country over the years due to various job changes and there’s always that connection to nature and the outside world that allowed her to cope with change – the nature around always seemed to give her hope and it was lovely to see her passing that interest on to her children as she had them exploring local areas with her.


There’s lots of fascinating information about the wildlife she sees and how the changes in areas has impacted on the animals and their habitats, as well as the history of places she lived in, that it made for an absorbing read, and one that has made me more determined to do what I can for local areas and wildlife so that more can be protected and saved for future generations.

★★★★★


Thank you to the publisher, Chelsea Green Publishing, for the advanced reader copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview BRAVING THE WILDERNESS by BRENE BROWN



ABOUT THE BOOK


“True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are.” Social scientist Bren� Brown, PhD, LMSW, has sparked a global conversation about the experiences that bring meaning to our lives–experiences of courage, vulnerability, love, belonging, shame, and empathy. In Braving the Wilderness, Brown redefines what it means to truly belong in an age of increased polarization. With her trademark mix of research, storytelling, and honesty, Brown will again change the cultural conversation while mapping a clear path to true belonging.

Brown argues that we’re experiencing a spiritual crisis of disconnection, and introduces four practices of true belonging that challenge everything we believe about ourselves and each other. She writes, “True belonging requires us to believe in and belong to ourselves so fully that we can find sacredness both in being a part of something and in standing alone when necessary. But in a culture that’s rife with perfectionism and pleasing, and with the erosion of civility, it’s easy to stay quiet, hide in our ideological bunkers, or fit in rather than show up as our true selves and brave the wilderness of uncertainty and criticism. But true belonging is not something we negotiate or accomplish with others; it’s a daily practice that demands integrity and authenticity. It’s a personal commitment that we carry in our hearts.” Brown offers us the clarity and courage we need to find our way back to ourselves and to each other. And that path cuts right through the wilderness. Brown writes, “The wilderness is an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching. It is a place as dangerous as it is breathtaking, a place as sought after as it is feared. But it turns out to be the place of true belonging, and it’s the bravest and most sacred place you will ever stand.”


PUBLISHED BY RANDOM HOUSE

MY REVIEW

I think this is one of those books that if you find yourself reading it then you will instantly connect with the message that the author is sharing. That lack of connection, the feeling of being alone and not knowing how to deal with the world we all find ourselves living in!

Through her own experiences, she writes with compassion about finding yourself feeling so many negative things and how we can all switch our focus and start believing in ourselves. It explores the fact that society is so fractured nowadays that we’re not programmed anymore to interact – we’re all in our own little worlds and those shared experiences are rarer, unless it goes viral via social media! And if you’re feeling alone, it’s reassuring to know that so many of us feel the same nowadays.

This is definitely a book that gets you thinking and makes you think differently about standing alone – embrace it, be yourself and make peace with it!


★★★★

#BookReview PRACTICALLY PAGAN – An Alternative Guide to Gardening by Elen Sentier #Pagan #nonfiction



ABOUT THE BOOK


Practically Pagan – An Alternative Guide to Gardening takes the spooky out of alternative and keeps the magic. Elen Sentier brings together, and expands on, recent scientific discoveries, and shows how close they are to the old ways that were labelled as superstition in the 20th century. Sentier’s writing is accessible and opens up the down-to-earth practicalism of pagans as people of the land to all, for that’s what the word pagan means, ‘of the land’. Sentier doesn’t preach or proselytise folk to become pagan, but brings to light how you’ve been thinking this way for years. Elen Sentier is a best-selling author of British native shamanism. She also writes paranormal mystery-suspense novels. She’s a wilderness woman, born on Dartmoor and grew up on Exmoor in a family who had practiced the old British magic for hundreds of years. Her books include Pagan Portals – Merlin: Once and Future Wizard (Moon Books, 2016), and Gardening with the Moon & Stars (Moon Books, 2015)


PUBLISHED BY MOON BOOKS


PUBLICATION DATE – 29TH OCTOBER 2021


PRE-ORDER LINK


Amazon

MY REVIEW


I found this an enjoyable and fascinating way to find out more about pagans and a different way to approach gardening. The author uses her own experiences for taking you through each season – 8 seasons in the pagan calendar, not 4! – and sharing lists of different jobs to do at that time, along with plants looking their best or ready for planting at that time.

I really found the pagan side of the book enlightening and has now got me interested in finding out more about pagans as I found myself connecting with many of her ways! She explains about pagan holidays and celebrations, alongside meditations and rituals that you can easily follow.

But at the heart of the book is a year of gardening tips and hints, and learning more about the plants she uses in her garden that can also be used in cooking, rituals etc. I really liked her approach to the world and gardening – she let her garden evolve to suit her needs at different times instead of being very rigid with her planning and structure.

I like the mix of family anecdotes throughout, and am sure this book is best read in stages, especially to correlate with the time of the year it relates to, which will help you garden well. It looks at different flowers and vegetables for each season, along with meanings of them for medicinal purposes so I’ve learnt a little more about certain plants in my garden, and ones I want to add in the future!

★★★★

#BookReview REBUGGING THE PLANET by VICKI HIRD @chelseagreen #nonfiction #environment #wildlife



ABOUT THE BOOK


This is a lovely little book that could and should have a big impact. ..Let’s all get rebugging right away! Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Meet the intelligent insects, marvellous minibeasts and inspirational invertebrates that help shape our planet – and discover how you can help them help us by rebugging your attitude today!

Remember when there were bugs on your windscreen? Ever wonder where they went? We need to act now if we are to help them survive. Chris Packham, Isabella Tree and George Monbiot are but a few voices championing the rewilding of our world. In Rebugging the Planet, Vicki Hird adds her voice to this chorus, explaining how our planet is headed towards ‘insectageddon’ with a rate of insect extinction eight times faster than that of mammals or birds. Rebugging the Planet gives us crucial information to help all those essential creepy-crawlies flourish once more.

Hird passionately demonstrates how insects and invertebrates are the cornerstone of our global ecosystem. They pollinate plants, feed birds, support and defend our food crops and clean our water systems. They are also beautiful, inventive and economically invaluable – bees, for example, contribute more to the UK economy than the Queen!

Rebugging the Planet shows us small changes we can make to have a big impact on our littlest allies:
Learn how to rebug parks, schools, pavements, verges and other green spaces.Leave your garden to grow a little wild and plant weedkiller-free, wildlife-friendly plants.Take your kids on a minibeast treasure hunt and learn how to build bug palaces.Make bug-friendly choices with your food and support good farming practices. Begin to understand how reducing inequality and poverty will help nature and wildlife too – it’s all connected.

So do your part and start rebugging today! The bees, ants, earthworms, butterflies, beetles, grasshoppers, ladybirds, snails and slugs will thank you – and our planet will thank you too.


PUBLISHED BY CHELSEA GREEN PUBLISHING
PUBLICATION DATE – 16TH SEPTEMBER 2021


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PRE-ORDER LINKS


Waterstones

Blackwell’s


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MY REVIEW


With over 40% of insect species at risk of extinction the time has come for us to pull together and help the little critters out! And this book is the perfect guide and call to arms for us all to get rebugging and all play a part in doing our bit!

The author speaks with tremendous passion for all things creepy crawly, and has been an environmental campaigner for a number of years and is now sharing her thoughts on just how serious the situation is for bugs and humans. Without them we’re screwed!! And she explains why throughout the book which really helps you understand how they all help in their own little ways.

It touches on the staggeringly scary way humans have impacted on the wellbeing of insects and the environment. BUT we have a chance of turning it round and this book has a wealth of ideas and hints on how we can change our attitudes towards insects and instead of reaching for the pest control or screaming ‘eeewwww’ at them, we begin to encourage them and work with them in our spaces – be it a garden, windowbox, park, school grounds…let your children play with worms! Teach them to love them and not fear them!

I’m happy to say that I am a great fan of wildlife in my garden so do all I can to encourage as much in as possible, and this book has introduced me to new ideas and ways of rebugging and rewilding my garden so I’m excited to put some of them into action and has made me more determined to do all I can to keep my garden as wildlife friendly as possible!

The author also shares ways of using less harmful products indoors as well – it all adds up to helping the environment and I found it to be a really enlightening read and will be dipping back in and out to try out more ideas and learn more about these amazing little creatures! There’s lots of information to think about and act on!!

The perfect book for those already interested in wildlife and the environment, or those just setting out to learn some practical ways to help out!


★★★★★


My thanks to the team at Chelsea Green Publishing for the advance reading copy in return for a fair and honest review.

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#BookReview THE GHOST IN THE GARDEN by JUDE PIESSE #20BooksOfSummer2021



This is book 20 of my 20 Books of Summer 2021

ABOUT THE BOOK


The forgotten garden which inspired Charles Darwin becomes the modern-day setting for an exploration of memory, family, and the legacy of genius.

Darwin never stopped thinking about the garden at his childhood home, The Mount. It was here, under the tutelage of his green-fingered mother and sisters, that he first examined the reproductive life of flowers, collected birds’ eggs, and began the experiments that would lead to his theory of evolution.

A century and a half later, with one small child in tow and another on the way, Jude Piesse finds herself living next door to this secret garden. Two acres of the original site remain, now resplendent with overgrown ashes, sycamores, and hollies. The carefully tended beds and circular flower garden are buried under suburban housing; the hothouses where the Darwins and their skilful gardeners grew pineapples are long gone. Walking the pathways with her new baby, Piesse starts to discover what impact the garden and the people who tended it had on Darwin’s work.

Blending biography, nature writing, and memoir, The Ghost in the Garden traces the origins of the theory of evolution and uncovers the lost histories that inspired it, ultimately evoking the interconnectedness of all things.


PUBLISHED BY SCRIBE UK

MY REVIEW


I found this to be a refreshing and illuminating memoir, combining the fascinating life of Charles Darwin and his family alongside that of the author who finds herself living nearby to his childhood garden at The Mount in Shrewsbury. She’d often walk past the property and the land that is now run partly by The Shropshire Wildlife Trust and she becomes intrigued by the impact that the garden may have had on his outlook and interest into the natural world that he took on to bigger things as he grew up!

It really brings to life the upbringing that Charles had – the dynamics of his family and the areas they lived in – and used letters and diaries from the family so well to bring them to life, so to speak! We get a real insight into the goings on at the time, and the role that those around him had on his interest being piqued on all matters to do with animals and the environment they were living in, and what could be learned.

Alongside his story, we see into the life of the author as she brings up her children to be just as interested in wildlife, encouraging them to explore with her on walks in the local area. She becomes obsessed with learning all she can about him and the use of letters from his sisters was a great way of seeing how they kept him in touch with matters from home while he was off travelling. Having lost his mother at a young age, it seemed his siblings became even closer, especially with his father being so busy.

It also touches on the ongoing work to preserve his legacy and keep sharing his work with people in the area, and how a humble garden can continue to teach us about the past and how we can imagine the area being used by those who lived there and what impact they have on shaping a young mind, such as Darwins’, and how they continue to do so.

I learnt so much from this book and loved the use of diagrams, photos and drawings to illustrate and get a real feel of the area, especially for those who haven’t been to visit!


★★★★★


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I’ve done it!! Completed another wonderful 20 Books of Summer challenge!! It took me a while to get going this year for some reason, and I didn’t think I’d make it at one point as I was reading lots of things that weren’t on my list!! Very helpful!! BUT I stuck to my game plan of attacking the Netgalley shelf and the 20 books I named at the start were the ones I managed to read!  Now if only I hadn’t added to the Netgalley shelf with yet more books over this Summer….. will I ever learn?!!


My thanks as always to Cathy at 746 Books who started all this 20 Books of Summer business off! I always love to take part and is it wrong of me to already begin counting down the days to the 2022 version??!!!!


HAPPY READING!!