I am currently reading Wildwood by Roger Deakin, a writer I discovered through the work of his friend, the nature writer and academic Robert Macfarlane (and the only non-fiction writer I actually enjoyed reading before encountering Deakin's work!). I especially loved Macfarlane's account of their stay in a Dorset Holloway whilst trying to recreate the adventures of the character in one of their favourite books, Geoffrey Household's Rogue Male (which I loved as well, by the way).
I started with Notes from Walnut Tree Farm, a gorgeous account of his life at the Suffolk house he rebuilt himself.
I am not even half-way through Wildwood yet and it's already full of colourful sticky notes. You need to read it with a map so you can follow Roger Deakin's journeys (and then you'll need to research all the fantastic things he has mentioned) - I don't think I have ever learnt so much in such a small amount of time.
One of the exciting thing about the book is that you never know what you will encounter in each chapter, you can never guess in which direction the author is going to take you next - but one thing is sure: you will be surprised!
The other important aspect of the book is that it is incredibly beautifully written - it has a rich vocabulary and flowing sentences, a real delight for all lovers of the English language. It can be delicate and poetic, energetic and bursting with enthusiasm.
Something I had already noticed whilst reading Notes From Walnut Tree Farm is the beautiful and sensitive way Deakin writes about animals - from cats to insects.
Below is a short extract about a tiny mouse which really touched me when I read it a few days ago and has stayed with me since (He mentions the mouse again later on in the book, so this episode had an impact on him too!)
I think therefore I write.
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