THE SUNDAY TIMES NATURE BOOK OF THE YEAR
The new bestseller from the author of The Shepherd's Life
'A beautifully written story of a family, a home and a changing landscape' Nigel Slater
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.
'A heartfelt book and one that dares to hope' Alan Bennett
'A wonder of a book, fierce, tender, and beautiful' Helen Macdonald
Winner of the Wainwright Prize
Winner of the Fortnum & Mason Food Book of the Year
Shortlisted for the Orwell Prize
Shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize
Longlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize
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.
A wonder of a book, fierce, tender, and beautiful. Deeply personal but also global in significance, its pages course with love and concern so palpable I more than once wept while reading it. James Rebanks writes lyrically and passionately of the shadow that has fallen over our relationship with land, and how we might reconfigure the ways we think about it, relate to it, interact with it, and with each other. It's both a sobering, urgent read and a deeply inspiring, hopeful one. The book, and author, are to be treasured
Powerful, important and deserves every accolade.
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.
Six Penguin Random House books are in the running to win the prestigious prize, which will be announced in March.