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Nature Cure [Paperback]

Richard Mabey
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
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Book Description

19 Jun 2008

In the last year of the old millennium, Richard Mabey, Britain's foremost nature writer, fell into a severe depression. For two years,he did little more than lie in bed with his face to a wall. He could neither work nor play. His money ran out. Worst of all, the natural world - which since childhood had been a source of joy and inspiration for him - became meaningless. Then, cared for by friends, he gradually recovered. He fell in love. Out of necessity as much as choice he moved to East Anglia. And he started to write again.

This remarkable book is an account of that first year of a new life. It is the story of a rite of passage -from sickness into health, from retreat into curiosity. It is about the adventure of learning to fit again.

Having left the cosseting woods of the Chiltern hills for the open flatlands of Norfolk, Richard Mabey finds exhilaration in discovering a whole new landscape. He writes about the changing seasons in prose so exact andso beautiful that every sentence delights the reader.

But Nature Cure is also alarger story. In finding his own niche, Richard Mabey gained insights into our human place in nature. He reflects on the inherent value of all creatures; on our presumptions that mankind is superior; on the ancient morality of commonland; and above all on the role of the imagination -not as a barrier between us and nature, but as our best way back to it. This was his 'nature cure': not a passive submission to nature, but anactive, sensual re-engagement.

Structured as intricately as a novel, a joy to read, truthful, exquisite and questing, Nature Cure is a book of hope, not just for individuals, but for our species.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (19 Jun 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099531828
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099531821
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 61,379 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Mabey is a naturalist and award-winning author and journalist. He won wide acclaim on the publication of the original Food for Free in 1972 - which has never been out of print since - and again with the publication of the colour edition in 1989. Among his many other acclaimed publications are Gilbert White (Whitbread Biography of the Year) and the ground-breaking bestseller Flora Britannica, which won the British Book Awards' Illustrated Book of the Year and the Botanical Society of the British Isles' President's Award and was runner-up for the BP Natural World Book Prize. He collaborated with Mark Cocker on Birds Britannica, and his book Nature Cure, described as 'a brilliant, candid and heartfelt memoir', was shortlisted for four prestigious prizes: the Whitbread Biography, the J.R. Ackerley for autobiography, Mind (for its investigation into depression) and the Ondaatje for the evocation of the spirit of place. He is an active member of national and local conservation groups and lives in Norfolk.

Product Description


"A book of which only he could have written a single page...marvellously observed, deeply felt from sentence to sentence. The writing is exquisite" (David Sexton, Evening Standard)

"A brilliant, candid and heartfelt memoir...The account of how he broke free of depression, reshaped his life and reconnected with the wild becomes nothing short of a manifesto for living...Mabey's particular vision, informed by a lifetime's reading and observation, is ultimately optimistic. It is also what makes his voice so appealing amid all the froth and flam of the eco-debate" (Philip Marsden Sunday Times)

"Mabey is a radical, inheritor of an old English tradition...The core of the book is his exploration of his new landscape. It feels a privilege to share it, watching him unpick the layers of watery Norfolk, with dazzling skill and the warmest of hearts, as his troubled mind heals" (Michael McCarthy Independent)

"Nature Cure is one of the most talked about books of our time.' 'Richard Mabey charts the primacy of the imagination in a sensual re-engagement with nature" (Peter Marren Daily Telegraph Weekend)

Book Description

'Britain's greatest living nature writer' (The Times) describes how he conquered clinical depression through his re-awakened love of nature.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
102 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My book of the year so far! 28 Feb 2005
I can't praise Nature Cure highly enough. It is billed as a journey through depression but it really isn't an inward looking self analysis - and his illness and cure take up very little of the book. He reveals what he needs to about himself but the real story is his examination of man's inner relationships with the natural world. And he is a person who has access to a fantastic store of knowledge about nature.
It is very readable and one of the most thought provoking books I've read for a long time. I am carrying around a wealth of new information, which I find myself retrieving and considering throughout the day. Mabey has a deep and comprehensive affinity with the countryside and ecology and writes quite beautifully. I will be re-reading this very soon.
He is part of my interwoven trio of rural writers that I recommend frequently and enthusiastically - the other two being Ronald Blythe and Roger Deakin.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book of re-connections. 15 April 2010
By Stewart M TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Nature Cure is an account of Richard Mabey's move from the Chilterns to East Anglia and of his recovery from depression. In both cases these are stories of reconnection - with the landscape and with his self.

Mabey had lived for most of his life in one house in the Chiltern Hills, he owned a wood there and, as much of his other work suggests, the place was central to who he was. Depression robbed him of that connection and in the end he was needed to leave. He needed to reconnect with a place and he needed to reconnect with the person he was. In the end he suceeds.

Anybody who has lost touch with a place they love, or has struggled with depression will recognize the things described in this book. However, this is not just a book for migrants or the depressed, far from it. It is full of simple stories that put place and self at the centre of things - and in these days of increasing stress and social isolation these are no bad stories to hear. We often define ourselves through our relationships with place and space and struggle when these are stripped of meaning.

Mabey writes "I don't think that love of one's own place that bears no hostility to others is a bad emotion", but I think it may have taken him a while to reach this conclusion.

This is a fascinating and honest account of a person trapped in the quick sand of depression,change and doubt, and finally emerging on to the firm ground of connection. Highly recommended.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courageous and thought provoking 7 Dec 2005
By Jacks
I enjoyed this book immensely. The author's emotional and physical journey from one beloved and known landscape, through pain and loss, to the renewing strength of another quite different place, is expressed with courage and a disarming honesty that utterly convinces.
I learnt much from the author's thought-provoking meditations on nature and even more about what it is to be human. Thank you Richard Mabey!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nature Cure 13 Mar 2009
A beautifully written book by one of my favourite authors. His description of deep depression is disturbingly accurate - an awful state of mind that seems to come from nowhere and sucks all colour and pleasure from life. He writes of lying in bed looking with incomprehension at books on his bookshelf that he himself had written; surely they must have been written by someone else?

His recovery, helped by friends and the lovely Polly is a pleasure to read. The colour and pleasure of a life that he had thought lost slowly reappear and through it all there is the wonder and beauty of nature.
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46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A marmite - Love it or hate it!! 21 May 2007
There is no denying that Richard Mabey is a talented author and naturalist, so its no surprise that the combination of these two qualities produce a book that is both eloquent and imaginative, and will for some people be the epitome of what a thought-provoking 'nature book' should be.

However I was first introduced to Nature Cure through Mabey's column in BBC Wildlife of the same name, and found it to be not only pessimistic but also somewhat dismissive of efforts to aid the natural world. So upon embarking on the book I was prepared for much more of the same, and I wasn't disappointed.

From the word go Mabey seems intent on reminding us of what we have lost rather than what we still have and what it can do for us. Although he describes swift sightings and deer encounters with heart-warming enthusiasm, it is always followed by a lengthy account of how out of tune we have become with nature, or a depressing metaphor for mankind's fall from grace!

Even the title is somewhat misleading. I expected the theme of Nature Cure to be a description of how the power of the natural world helped Mabey overcome depression. However it begins with Mabey already recovered, with barely a glimpse back into his life before recovery. As such the book meanders its way through what can only be described as a rather uneventful 'recuperation' period. Mabey's talent for describing natural events kept me interested enough to see it through to the end but it did become a chore and left me far from inspired.

There are some people who will find the book wonderful. There are beautiful descriptions and evocative thoughts which will make the more romantic nature lover's day.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars On the whole I enjoyed it.
An egotistical and self-opinionated book, yet it still gave moments of insight and pleasure. On the whole I enjoyed it.
Published 1 month ago by Reginald Blundell
4.0 out of 5 stars ruminations about nature and mental health
Beautifully written with so much knowledge about English flora and fauna, made me feel really stupid at times not being able to identify all these birds and trees and bushes and... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Moya Nolan
5.0 out of 5 stars very encouraging
We had it for years but our daughter took it with her when she married. So we had to buy it again !
Published 6 months ago by O. Roucoux
5.0 out of 5 stars Nature Cure by Richard Mabey
Bought as a gift for a friend. He is delighted. Many thanks. Please note - I have already sent this feedback
Published 12 months ago by dizzy
3.0 out of 5 stars Books received
All the books listed below were ordered so that I would have them for travelling and when on holiday. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Searcher
5.0 out of 5 stars HUGGING
I heard about this book on the radio and it sounded interesting. Since I have heard the author on the radio and he was interesting. Read more
Published 14 months ago by LIZDOG
5.0 out of 5 stars Nature Cure - depression lifted in flat Norfolk
Richard Mabey has a breakdown and then moves from middle England shires to the flatlands of East Anglia and by some odd quirk of nature finds his spirits uplifted. Read more
Published 15 months ago by A. M. Smithwhite
4.0 out of 5 stars Book review
Not fair for me to say really as my husband asked me to buy it. He likes it though so that is OK!
Published 15 months ago by Unknown
4.0 out of 5 stars Nature Cure- Richard Mabey
I enjoyed this unusual very personal approach to a book on Nature. The title almost suggests a therapeutic natural cure such as one would buy in a herbalists store, but Richard... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Artemistica
5.0 out of 5 stars We all need healing at some time in our life
We all need healing at some time in our life (we are not always cured, but are healed). Mr Mabey was healed by his friends at first, then his reaction to nature. Read more
Published on 18 Jun 2012 by CR
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