Only two books again this month- my reading has really taken a nose dive!
Keith Clarke- The Muse Colony. not certain if this is still in print as I bought it in 1998- probably when we were house hunting in Gloucestershire/Oxfordshire. The ISBN is 1 872971 30X. It’s been a while since I read this the first time and I was prompted to re-read it as one of the poets Edward Thomas mentioned in this book also features in my next book which I started reading first- this being shorter I finished it first.
In the months before the first world war in 1914 the small village of Dymock became the focal point of a group of young poets including Edward Thomas, Rupert Brooke and Robert Frost. They brought with them their families and friends and rented cottages and rooms, they walked and talked and wrote poetry inspiring each other and in turn were inspired by the countryside. It was a magical Summer. This book explores this idylic time. A forgotten world and time when life was gentler and slower. A thoroughly enjoyable re-read. There are a lot of daffodils in their work!
Robert MacFarlane- The Old Ways- which are of course old footpaths, and the book traces some of them through the author’s walk, on his own or with a friend, noting flora, fauna, geology and people associated with them. In parts very interesting, but not quite what I expected as I had assumed the book would only cover the UK and that there would be more history and less geology. I loved the connection to Edward Thomas, and to a local to Swindon naturalist Richard Jeffries, who lived at Coates, where there is a museum about him, still closed, and where we walked last month.
I was very interested in the explanation for ancient man building houses in river estauries on stilts. At the time before farming the British Isles were covered in forests, people dwelt by the sea, plentiful food and houses on the water were safer from wolves and bears, oh my. ( Sorry family favourite saying from the Wizard of Oz). The way people got about was in boats on the sea- the sea routes were the very old ways before footpaths.
However my overall feeling was that something is lacking in the book- I would have welcomed maps, and proper photos, not just black and white grainy ones, of places and people, but more importantly what the book lacks is any humour, and I found myself longing for a Bill Bryson type observation.
I’m now reading a book lent to me by my son called Tombland by C J Sansom, it’s more of a page turner, thank goodness. Meantime I managed to join the local library- three branches in one town- a treat I’ve not enjoyed since we lived in Sussex. The libraries started to re-open a couple of weeks ago for click and collect- you choose your books , they find them, email you and you collect them from the library without needing to go inside. I found my old wishlists from North Yorkshire, cross checked with ones in the library here, and selected three. Email received yesterday they were ready for collection tomorrow afternoon. Hurrah! That’s my weekend sorted.
Love to know if your library has managed to open yet and if you had a good book on the go.