16 February 2016

God’s Own Country by Ross Raisin

Brilliant on the contrast between those who have grown up on the Yorkshire moors, ‘real living farting Nature,’ and the incomers, whether ramblers (‘daft sods’) or the new family living in the nearby farm. The voice of the protagonist, Sam Marsdyke is singular, twisted and dangerously funny.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Colin and Mary, both victims of upper-class neglect, heal themselves through the power of the secret garden. Beyond the walls of the house lies something wilder, even more powerful, the moors themselves. This book captivated me as a child, and the copy I read had wonderful illustrations, I can still see the plate in which the garden is revealed in its full, glorious bloom.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Coming to it as a young adult, I was expecting to be transported by glorious romance, but here instead was a vicious world I found it hard to gain a purchase on. Whose story was it? Who was I supposed to sympathise with? There are no lightening conductors in this storm and this is precisely its brilliance. It remains a deeply unsettling, uneasy read, in which the natural world represents equal parts death and liberation.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Not perhaps as wild or specific as Wuthering Heights, but still infused with the power of the Yorkshire landscape, culminating in Jane’s wandering on the moors in which she experiences nature as her ‘benign mother,’ a realisation which leads to the recovery of her soul.

Common Ground by Rob Cowen

A bit of a cheat here as I haven’t read it yet, but it looks wonderful, a writer exploring the ‘edgeland’ of Harrogate, a place between town and moor. I love the idea of these liminal edgelands, and the way wildness can enter our lives when we least expect it to.

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