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A Slow Passion: Snails, My Garden and Me [Paperback]

Ruth Brooks
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 8.12 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

13 Mar 2014

When BBC Radio 4's Material World programme announced a search for the UK's top amateur scientist, little did anyone expect that the winning experiment would comprise one of our humblest garden pests. Ruth Brooks posed this question: Do snails have a homing instinct? The nation was gripped by the unexpected thesis and by Ruth's online diaries, which catalogued her trials and tribulations as she got to grips with these slimy little gastropods.

A Slow Passion is Ruth's story, with anecdotes and misadventures galore. What starts out as a ruthless vendetta against the snails that are decimating her hostas becomes a journey of discovery into the whys and wherefores of snail life.

When Ruth dumps a group of the worst offending snails in a far-off wood, she decides to paint their shells with nail varnish, just to see what happens. And guess what, they come back home. This is the beginning of an obsession that sees the grandmother-turned-scientist prowling about and pouncing on the snails in her garden, sneaking off on night-time missions to repatriate bucketloads of painted snails, reading up on the sex-life of snails (which turns out to be unexpectedly romantic) and, eventually, sending off the application to a national competition for home science.

With charming illustrations, A Slow Passion is a sweet, funny and surprising investigation into the hidden life of snails, which will change the way you look at the smaller (and slower) things in life.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks (13 Mar 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408843463
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408843468
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,193,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

A Slow Passion is sweet, informative and sure to cheer exhasperated gardeners (Financial Times)

Once in a while, a book innocently intrigues the head and beguiles the heart. This is one of them ... Warm-hearted, witty and rigorous (The Times 2013-03-23)

A beautifully descriptive read, filled with childhood memories, extraordinary facts, and detailed illustrations (Western Daily Press)

It's the journey that makes this book special ... The moral of the tale is you're never too old or too uneducated to get out there and investigate. This is a hymn to a glorious kind of Englishness, in which the national pastimes of gardening, inquisitiveness and gumption win the day (Mail on Sunday)

A lovely reflection on the smaller, slower, simpler things in life (Top Sante Health & Beauty)

Book Description

One woman's investigation into the whys and wherefores of snails

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly enchanting true-life tale. 7 Mar 2013
Format:Hardcover
This is a charming book written by an inspiring lady (whom I had the joy to see speak at the Brighton Science Festival). The book describes a battle with nature fought in a quiet Devon garden that turns into an adventurous project that reveals fascinating new facts and challenges some professional scientists' long-held beliefs. But this is a very human and heart-warming story too, and a story that will appeal to readers of all ages. Ruth's humility, curiosity and humour shine through, but so does her dedicated observation and knowledge of the lives of a creature that many of us would rarely give any attention to. A wonderful read for a Sunday afternoon and a great gift for animal lovers and snail-despising gardeners alike!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gentle, captivating yet profound read 8 Jun 2013
By NorahT
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Written in elegantly pleasing style, this book not only captures the author's long love affair with the natural world, but also gives us a much deeper insight and knowledge into the microcosmal universe of the snail.

Although I haven't yet finished reading it I have already caught some of her enthusiasm and indeed liking for what I had previously deemed to be garden pests.
She also captures the atmosphere of a 1950's childhood well and I almost felt myself "back there".
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Such an uplifting book 13 Mar 2013
Format:Hardcover
This is a really sweet and nostalgic book. I remember being intrigued by the radio programme where she conducted the experiments. I'm also going to buy copies for my gardening-obsessed aunt and mother in law birthdays. We will banish snails from our hostias!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "In The Garden, Nothing Had Changed - Except Me." 28 April 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Written with an eloquence that rivals Ruth Brook's vast scientific curiosity, this little book proved to be a deeply inspirational account of how one woman made her peace with the molluscs invading her garden, and in so doing, found peace within herself as well. It begins as a nostalgic memoir of her childhood in the 1940s-50s, within the context of her enduring love of nature. Along the way, snails play a role in her memories, but it is not until she begins to wonder how to rid her flowerbeds of these "pests" without killing them that she takes a long-shot and enters the BBC Amateur Scientist competition.

From here on, the book becomes heavy on science. The author has a marvelous style of writing, a rare blend of entertaining and educational. She is quite enthusiastic about her subject, while her recounting of the trials, tribulations and successes of her homing instinct experiment, were, for this snail enthusiast, thrilling to read. Incidentally, Ruth Brooks has gone no little way in proving what most snail owners would already swear to - that they are far more intelligent than modern science would suggest, and in particular, snails have a memory.

Throughout the experiment, she is beset with challenges, which she overcomes with a positive outlook, and it becomes amazing, even to those few of us who are so fond of our gastropods, that such a tiny, seemingly unimportant creature as the snail could be the catalyst that so profoundly changed her outlook on herself, and her place in Nature. That all lives are of significance.

For mollusc lovers, this book is the Holy Grail of Snail Tomes. It was also very much uplifting, the sort of thing that restores one's faith in humanity. I found it an absolute pleasure to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nostalgia combined with learning 21 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This quirky little book is an easy read and combines nostalgia (although younger than the author I remember a childhood in the 50s), "detective" story and perhaps a solution to snails. At least I have resolved to try a season without little blue pellets. I have recommended it to friends of a similar age with gardens - whether it would appeal to a younger generation I don't know.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A charming book 28 Feb 2013
Format:Hardcover
A thoroughly entertaining tale of how a gardening grandmother became an unlikely scientist. Well written, funny and factual, this book was a joy to read.

I am neither keen on gardening nor snails, so I wasn't sure whether I would fully appreciate this book, but I enjoyed it immensely and Ruth's enthusiasm for science and life in general is an inspiration.
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