THE SUNDAY TIMES NATURE BOOK OF THE YEAR
A Telegraph, Financial Times, New Statesman, Telegraph and Observer Book of the Year 2020
The new bestseller from the author of The Shepherd's Life
'A heartfelt book and one that dares to hope' Alan Bennett
'A beautifully-written story of a family, a home and a changing landscape' Nigel Slater
'I was thrilled by it' Philip Pullman
As a boy, James Rebanks's grandfather taught him to work the land the old way. Their family farm in the Lake District hills was part of an ancient agricultural landscape: a patchwork of crops and meadows, of pastures grazed with livestock, and hedgerows teeming with wildlife. And yet, by the time James inherited the farm, it was barely recognisable. The men and women had vanished from the fields; the old stone barns had crumbled; the skies had emptied of birds and their wind-blown song.
English Pastoral is the story of an inheritance: one that affects us all. It tells of how rural landscapes around the world were brought close to collapse, and the age-old rhythms of work, weather, community and wild things were lost. And yet this elegy from the northern fells is also a song of hope: of how, guided by the past, one farmer began to salvage a tiny corner of England that was now his, doing his best to restore the life that had vanished and to leave a legacy for the future.
This is a book about what it means to have love and pride in a place, and how, against all the odds, it may still be possible to build a new pastoral: not a utopia, but somewhere decent for us all.
Remarkable ... A brilliant, beautiful book ... Eloquent, persuasive and electric with the urgency that comes out of love
It is a book full of love: of his grandfather, of his children and of the Lake District valley where he lives and farms ... Some books change our world. I hope this turns out to be one of them.
A beautifully-written story of a family, a home and a changing landscape.
James Rebanks's English Pastoral deserves to be called a masterpiece. Four generations of his family building on centuries of their farming in the Cumbrian Fells gives us a poetic, practical, raw and almost miraculously detailed picture of this ancient way of life struggling to survive and to be reborn. This wonderful book was waiting to be written.
One of the most important books of our time. Told with humility and grace, this story of farming over three generations - where we went wrong and how we can change our ways - will be our land's salvation.
What a terrific book: vivid and impassioned and urgent--and, in both its alarm and its awe for the natural world, deeply convincing. Rebanks leaves no doubt that the question of how to farm is a question of human survival on this hard-used planet. He should be read by everyone who grows food, and by everyone who eats it
James Rebanks's story of his family's farm is just about perfect. It belongs with the finest writing of its kind
Ambitious, accomplished ... Rebanks is eloquent - scenes of mud and guts are interspersed with quotes ranging from Virgil to Schumpeter, Rachel Carson to Wendell Berry ... English Pastoral builds into a heartfelt elegy for all that has been lost from our landscape, and a rousing disquisition on what could be regained - a rallying cry for a better future.
Heartfelt, rich with detail ... James Rebanks writes with his heart, and his heart is in the right place. We should listen to him.
Marvellous and moving
James Rebanks shot to fame when the world fell in love with his farm. Now he's written about his fight to turn it around. We travel to the Lake District to discuss English Pastoral, already being hailed as one of the most important books of the year.