Top critical review
10 people found this helpful
Not my cup of tea
on 24 August 2015
George Monbiot's 'Feral' tells the story of his relationship with nature and rewilding, as well as offering the reader a real insight into the practicalities of the process. It is much more political than I had realised, and the contentious nature is not a simple one to puzzle through, even for Monbiot himself. I was particularly struck by the chapter 'How Not to Rewild', which talks about nature reclaiming the land after mass human genocide and other human tragedies. The role of natural preservation sites also shocked me; it is so easy to think of them as 'positive' things that the reality is a hard pill to swallow. There is no easy answer.
I have to admit that I struggled through this book. It was, for me, not an easy read. I am not a prolific reader of non-fiction, even of semi-autobiographical books such as this. I have tried in the past to read a number of Robert Mcfarlane's books but have never made it to the end of the first chapter. I was more determined with this, as it was lean to me by a wonderful cousin who is very involved with wildlife movements. Although it has taken me two months, reading on and off, I am glad that I persevered. Nature books are not for me, but it was fascinating. The final few chapters about rewilding the sea were actively enjoyable, and not difficult to read at all: maybe I had finally got used to th style? It is a really fascinating book for anyone interested in the idea of what is 'natural' or not, and the role of politics behind it.
One issue I had was the horrible damning of sheep!! I understand totally what was being said (in fact I remember learning similar things in history after enclosures came in in the medieval period) but I didn't have the same relationship with sheep as in now do. Despite the very real things he says about them, I feel a natural urge to defend them. I love my sheep, even though they destroy ecosystems. It's a difficult thing to reconcile: the truth is far from the one that I would like to believe.
Overall, a really interesting and eye opening read. Despite my struggles with it, I am glad to have read it, and would probably recommend it. Nature memoirs are not my genre, and I'm not sure I will read any more, but this one was thoroughly worthwhile. I may come back to mature memoirs in the future, who knows?