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A marmite - Love it or hate it!!
on 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. But for the more practical wildlife enthusiasts (like me) who like to learn and experience, it was rather disappointing.
For me Nature Cure was not an exhilarating literary venture in the way Mabey's Flora Britannica was, but it is something a little different, and for that reason is both refreshing and worth a try.