A WONDERFUL book... so good that I was sad when I came to the end of it!
Before you grandly say, "Do tourism instead of lumber," read this book to understand on what it feels like to be on the "downside" of cultural imperialism. The first part of the book is the most important.
I almost quit reading the book somewhere around 100 pages. I was turned off by the defensive attitude which reminded me of the old Rodney Dangerfield shtick. After that the book became delightfully interesting as he described in evocative prose the rhythm of the shepherding life through the four seasons of the year.
Fascinating insights, wisdom, and details about practical aspects of the sheepherding year.
"... an intimate view inside a seemingly ordinary life; a celebration of the meaning of place, the ties of family to the land around them, and the beauty of the past."
Since I'll be visiting the Lake District soon, I thought it was worth my while to read a book about the region and the shepherds who work there -- and it was. This book was a joy to read from start to finish, part memoir, part love letter to a place and to a disappearing way of life. This book made me think a lot about the world we live in and the space I inhabit in it. I finished this book with a deep respect for Rebanks and his neighbors, and also, perhaps oddly, with a deeply felt appreciation that, like the author, I get to go to work every day and do a job that I feel truly matters. This is a great book.
What a revelation! This was a fascinating look into a life that I had never thought of. Mr. Rebanks clearly loves his work, his land and his animals. I was so pleasantly educated about sheep and the lake district of England. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Very interesting read and view. I was one of those troublesome tourists trying to drive down the picturesque lanes against tides of sheep. And walk up hills for the lovely views amid the fuzzy crowds...and yes I did not realize the work, struggle and love that goes into shepherding these flocks. Thanks James of such an intriguing and thoughtprovoking book.
Rebanks writes about the life of a shepherd in an unsentimental way. The book is also about a sense of place and the vulnerability of this way of life, threatened by agribusiness.
This is a read that really speaks to me on all levels. Had I known Rebanks during his early years I'd have considered him a teenage jerk on first impression. I understand his love of the tradition, the exhausting labor, his attachment to his granddad. It's often hard to imagine the landscape of such a tiny island about the size of Oregon & the enormous diversity, sometimes just 20 miles away. It's a technicolor dreams-cape watching these shepherds move the flocks up/down steep hills nearly anywhere in Britain, a near religious experience. His paragraph in Winter, section 30 page 5 impressed me with his take on how important traditions are being lost especially in light of the possibility we use up fossil fuels & then nobody can remember or figure out life used to be managed.
The beginning of this book felt repetitive, costing it half a star. Shortly, however, Rebanks shows what he's made of as a writer, in this first book. It's highly personal, about four generations of his family, and their lives as shepherds in England's Lake District. Rebanks also shows how their lives, and the lives of their neighbors, form a tightly knit web, the results of centuries of life on the land, the sheep, the dogs, the weather, and how these factors interact. It's almost impossible for most farmers to make a living just with sheep, given the price of wool today, so most also must do other jobs as well. One of Rebanks', who is Oxford-educated, is working with UNESCO all over the world on sustainable, ecologically responsible farming. Beautifully written, by a man who loves where he lives, and the life he was born to, and has chosen. Illustrated with splendid photographs by the author.
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