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The Plot: A Biography of My Father's English Acre

The Plot: A Biography of My Father's English Acre [Kindle Edition]

Madeleine Bunting
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)

Print List Price: 9.99
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Product Description


'She paints a vivid, poignant picture of a corner of England, precious to her' - Simon Jenkins
-- Review

`Madeleine Bunting's book is full of engaging stories, imaginatively researched and written with great tenderness' - Edward Stourton
-- Review


`Madeleine Bunting's book is full of engaging stories, imaginatively researched and written with great tenderness' - Edward Stourton

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1379 KB
  • Print Length: 324 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1847081444
  • Publisher: Granta Books (1 Oct 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S. r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #96,115 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing and Interesting 29 Sep 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Madeleine Bunting wanted to find out more about her late father, John Bunting, the sculptor and art teacher, what motivated and drove him. In doing so she decided to look at the plot of land that he bought at Scotch Corner and why he built a chapel on it.

What we are given is part biography and part history as she delves further into the land. This may not sound like everyones cup of tea - but what we are given here is something highly interesting and thought provoking. Not only does Bunting show what has happened on the plot of land itself over the millennia but also what has happened in the surrounding area. From drovers passing through and monks starting a community we also have the battle between Robert the Bruce and Edward II, which led to the latters ignominous escape. This area of land doesn't just show local history but some of the more broader aspects which have shaped the history of the British Isles. We are forced to think about what is real untamed wild land and what is really shaped by man, indeed so much that we take as the natural land has actually been made by us over the centuries. From this we also have to think about how we use the land and what impact our actions can have with any changes that become apparent climate change.

Farming has always been difficult in this part of North Yorkshire and with people willing to buy up farmhouses as weekend retreats and farmers trying to survive we are shown the problems of this area, also what effect has been made by tourism and those who shoot grouse. I must admit that I wasn't sure whether I would really like this book when I got it but after starting it I was fully immersed and absorbed, and was really glad that I ordered it. Admittedly this is never going to be a huge seller but if you like such tv programmes as 'Coast' and 'Countryfile', or just history you will probably enjoy this.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The power of a parent's unlived life 1 Oct 2009
By Sensible Cat VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Throughout the turbulent twentieth century, the English countryside served idealists and romantics as a "theatre of dreams" - an idealised space where time had stood still, suburbia had been excluded and craftspeople continued to find personal fulfillment working with their hands in villages that had remained unchanged for centuries. Madeleine Bunting's father went further than most in imposing this vision on his family. The North Yorkshire plot of land he leased in 1958 and used to build a highly personal chapel, a showcase for his sculptures and a focus for his unspoken but fervent Catholicism, was a place that aroused conflicting emotions in his family, and after his death in 2002 Bunting realized that if she was ever to truly understand him she would have to understand the Plot and its many historical associations.

So this book is a memoir, the story of a parent who must have been very hard to live with, whose aspirations made an uncomfortable fit with the realities of family life and the conflicting demands on the rural landscape in postwar England. It's a kind of exorcism, deeply personal but made universal and political by Bunting's intelligence and the research and writing skills she has acquired through a successful career in journalism. It's not a linear narrative by any means; the way the focus shifts from family picnics to Cistercian monks, from moths to the woes of modern farmers, could collapse into chaos in less accomplished hands. But in the second section, "War", the picture comes into focus and she draws together the threads of personal and collective memory.

Her father first discovered the Plot on a highly significant date - 6th June, 1944.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Meandering Around The Plot 28 Sep 2009
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
After the death of her father, Guardian columnist Madeleine Bunting set herself the task of getting to know him, the land he loved and the ideas that informed his life, by writing this book, The Plot. It is the story of a one-acre plot on the Yorkshire moors (Scotch Corner, but not, as I thought for the first few chapters, *the* Scotch Corner service station on the A1!), and the surrounding area. It's also the story of a difficult man, his family life, hopes and dreams; and it's the story of how his daughter comes to something of an understanding and acceptance of him.

John Bunting bought the Plot as an idealistic young man, rejecting his suburban origins and determined to carve out an alternative life on his own terms. On it, he built a Catholic war memorial chapel, and a habitable hut, while raising his family five miles down the road in a village cottage.

Madeleine Bunting intertwines her father's relationship to the Plot with wider themes relevant to its history - companionship, war and change. We zoom in on the details, and then zoom out again to contemplate the abstract. I'm always fascinated by details of everyday life in history, so I enjoyed reading about the drovers' roads which went from the Scottish Highlands down to London, and the old occupations and ways of life which went with them - I could picture the farmhouses lit up on a dark moorland night, the cattle secured outside as the drovers bought their ale and waited for the blacksmith to shoe some livestock, glowing sparks flying. More universally, for example, she discusses the idea of landscape and the increasing dominance of vision over the other senses.

The latter third of the book examines the social changes of the twentieth century.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A very pleasant read
My friend who recommended this book said it had made her want to go visit the plot of land described in it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by J Hutch
3.0 out of 5 stars Good writer, but self-obsessed
We read this in my book club and it yielded a lively debate. However, most didn't enjoy it. A lot of tiny detail, which gets boring and too much left unsaid to justify the... Read more
Published 1 month ago by peplepui
5.0 out of 5 stars Bloomin love it.
I read this so decided to give a copy of it to my dad, who grew up in the locations mentioned in the book. It is a great read. Read more
Published 5 months ago by CRF
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected!
Rather wordy and information about the father and family, the history and geography of the area are all mixed up.
Published 7 months ago by Singing Dorabella
4.0 out of 5 stars The Plot: A Biography of my Father's English Acre
I loved this book. It is fascinating on many levels. A brooding military presence hangs over it. If you enjoy history, and especially if you enjoy Yorkshire, this might be your... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Max Markham
4.0 out of 5 stars Family connections
My husbands family farmed in the area that the book covered, and felt the book covered all the info well. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Jim
5.0 out of 5 stars The Plot
My wife purchased his book as a member of a local reading group. She really enjoyed the story (not always the case when others choose the book to read!)
Published 13 months ago by G. R. Horne Esq
4.0 out of 5 stars A father seen through the lens of a small part of the Yorkshire Dales
This is more of a biography than a natural history book, and that is no bad thing.

John Bunting was a well known sculptor and artist, and this book is his daughter... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Half Man, Half Book
4.0 out of 5 stars Get off my land.
Not more more to add from the other the reviews, so I'll just add my own voice of approval. Fans of Buntings writing in The Guardian won't be disappointed by this thoroughly... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Stuart Burns
4.0 out of 5 stars It is not size that matters.
The book was recommended to me, because it will be read at the ELFM Readathlon on Sunday 17th June. And I am one of the readers. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Ibola Knill
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