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A Good Parcel of English Soil: The Metropolitan Line (Penguin Underground Lines) [Kindle Edition]

Richard Mabey
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Richard Mabey, one of Britain's leading nature writers, looks in A Good Parcel of English Soil at the relationship between city and country, and how this brings out the power of nature - part of a series of twelve books tied to the twelve lines of the London Underground, as Tfl celebrates 150 years of the Tube with Penguin

Richard Mabey's A Good Parcel of English Soil, his essay on the Metropolitan line, is one of the most compelling segments of Penguin's Underground Lines ... eclectic and broad-minded ... elegantly written' Observer

'Authors include the masterly John Lanchester, the children of Kids Company, comic John O'Farrell and social geographer Danny Dorling. Ranging from the polemical to the fantastical, the personal to the societal, they offer something for every taste. All experience the city as a cultural phenomenon and notice its nature and its people. Read individually they're delightful small reads, pulled together they offer a particular portrait of a global city' Evening Standard

'Exquisitely diverse' The Times

'Eclectic and broad-minded ... beautifully designed' Tom Cox, Observer

'A fascinating collection with a wide range of styles and themes. The design qualities are excellent, as you might expect from Penguin with a consistent look and feel while allowing distinctive covers for each book. This is a very pleasing set of books' A Common Reader blog

'The contrasts and transitions between books are as stirring as the books themselves ... A multidimensional literary jigsaw' Londonist

'A series of short, sharp, city-based vignettes - some personal, some political and some pictorial ... each inimitable author finds that our city is complicated but ultimately connected, full of wit, and just the right amount of grit' Fabric Magazine

'A collection of beautiful books' Grazia

[Praise for Richard Mabey]:

'Radiant, tingle-making prose has earned Mabey literary prizes and a multitude of fans', Daily Mail

'Richard Mabey is a man for all seasons, most regions and every kind of landscape', Andrew Motion Financial Times

'Refreshing, droll, politically alert, occasionally self-mocking, he has the enviable ability both to write historical overview and also to slip into the woods like a dryad, bringing us back to the trees themselves, their colours and lights and textures', Guardian

Richard Mabey has been described as 'Britain's greatest living nature writer' and is a frequent contributor to the BBC.

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Product Description


"A collection of beautiful books." "Grazia""

About the Author

Richard Mabey is a naturalist and nature writer. Among his acclaimed books are Flora Britannica, Food for Free and Nature Cure. He is a frequent contributor on BBC radio and television.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 215 KB
  • Print Length: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (7 Mar. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00ADNP52M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #351,084 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Richard Mabey, as ever 29 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am alerted to any Richard Mabey publication and this one (short essay tho' it is) was as intersting as ever. I have lived along the Metropolitan line (i.e. in Metroland) all my life and in Chesham, at the end of the line, for 50+ years. Mabey describes many places well known to me in his own characteristic way which evokes childhood and school days, as well as describing nature in unusual and evocative ways. Did you know that tomato plants growing alongside roads, and in this case, the railway, indicate that people have thrown remnants of tomato sandwiches out of the window and the seeds have germinated?? This book also introduced me to the Penguin 150 anniversary Underground set and I have now have seven of them including the Piccadilly, along which line I travelled to school in the 1950's.
These little books are perfect presents for friends who might have connections with any of the lines.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review 28 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Yes, an easy read and clearly lovingly written by Mabey and well researched. I collect Mabey's books and was happy to receive this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Casting a light on Metroland 21 Dec. 2013
By Stewart M TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a splendid (little) book that seems to cast a light on a number of things.

Firstly and most obviously it is a potted history of the Metropolitan Line and the towns that grew up as a result of it being built. These towns form a region known as "Metroland" - a place where imagined dreams were sold and people escaped from London.

If this were the only thing the book looked at it would be interesting enough to recommend, as this was a huge project in commercial social engineering.

But I think that the more interesting part of this book is how it casts a light on much of the author's other writing.

Books such as "The Unofficial Countryside" - which addresses the ill-defined hinterland between urban and rural - and "Nature Cure" - which looks at the beneficial contact between people and a wild places - both have their origins in the experience, and sold dreams, of Metroland.

The turn of phrase and acute observation that I have come to expect form Mabey are all in place. If this book is typical of the others in this series, they will be worthwhile and interesting reading!

Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite 13 Dec. 2013
This charming and informative little book is another in the Penguin series issued to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the opening of the London Underground. This particular volume covers the Metropolitan Line (the purplish/claretish one - I'm a simple country boy and am not very strong on my intermediates shades!) which stretches out from the city centre out into Buckinghamshire and the Chilterns.

Like a few others in the series, it does not confine itself to simple regurgitation of basic facts about the line. Indeed, the line itself plays a relatively small part in the book. Instead Mabey concentrates on the impact that the development of the line had on the area that was to become known as Metroland: after all, Mabey has made a notable career out of writing and broadcasting about the symbiotic relationship between society and nature. He offers and informed, though never overwhelming, depiction of the changes that settlement brought, and an intriguing insight into the consequences of encroachment by residential and industrial estates into scrubland.

I first encountered the term "Metroland" when reading Julian Barnes's marvellous novel of that name, and was naïve enough to imagine that he had coined the term. Then I discovered the television programme that Sir John Betjeman made under that title for the BBC back in the early 1970s (coming shortly after his appointment as Poet Laureate). However, the term predates even that, and was used by the railway company itself to conjure up an Elysian image that awaited would-be dwellers in the hinterlands that the line would open up for commuters who chose to move to the outer reaches of Middlesex and beyond.
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