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
A heartfelt book and one that dares to hope.
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.
Rapturous ... For Rebanks writing and farming have proved complementary: while working long hours on the land he has produced a book in a pastoral tradition that runs from Virgil to Wendell Berry
Heartfelt, rich with detail ... James Rebanks writes with his heart, and his heart is in the right place. We should listen to him.
It moved me to tears, made me feel excited and optimistic, and said, so eloquently and succinctly, all the things I've been thinking and feeling ... It is not just a beautiful book to read, but so important and so timely. A wonderful, thought-provoking, heartlifting read.
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.
I have never met anyone so roaringly, joyously in context and content as James Rebanks, belting around his farm in the rain ... The story of Rebanks and his family is the story of what farming has been in Britain but, also, the story of what it could become
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.