Shortlisted for the 2011 Costa Biography Award and the 2012 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize
Julia Blackburn and her husband moved to a little house in the mountains of northern Italy in 1999. She arrived as a stranger but a series of events brought her close to the old people of the village and they began to tell her their stories. Of how their village had been trapped in an archaic feudal system and owned by a local padrone who demanded his share of all they had, of the eruption of the Second World War, of the conflict between the fascists and the partisans, of death and fear and hunger of how they hid like like foxes in the mountains. 'Write it down for us,' they said, 'because otherwise it will all be lost.'
Thin Paths is a celebration of the songlines of one place that could be many places and a celebration of the humour and determination of the human spirit.
My book of the year. Beautiful, beguiling, memorable
Impossible to forget...beautiful and deeply humane
Profoundly moving...absorbing...and compassionate... Blackburn writes beautifully and despite its sorrows, Thin Paths is full of humour and pulsating life
Marvellous... Her writing is as eloquent and elegant as ever
A lyrical patchwork of fine-grained nature writing