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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and thought provoking
A most beautiful, original and interesting book. It's full of interesting information and beautiful descriptions of forests, which are a pleasure to read and make you wish visiting in person.The book deals with forests' history,the people who lived and live in them and how forests affect them and people in general. From the "free miners' to mushroom expert it brings many...
Published on 14 Dec. 2012 by K. Brent

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Forests and fairytales
In this book Maitland is looking at the role that woods and forests have played in our national identity, primarily through stories, by also as a source of employment, fuel and food.

the book is split into 12 chapters, with 12 sub chapters. Each chapter describes a visit to a different wood or forest that she goes to. She visits these woods all around the...
Published 14 months ago by Half Man, Half Book


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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and thought provoking, 14 Dec. 2012
A most beautiful, original and interesting book. It's full of interesting information and beautiful descriptions of forests, which are a pleasure to read and make you wish visiting in person.The book deals with forests' history,the people who lived and live in them and how forests affect them and people in general. From the "free miners' to mushroom expert it brings many intersting aspects of how humans and forests affected each other. The book contains retelling of many fairytales (mainly from a minor charachter's point of view) and these are jems: beautifully written, highly original and thought provoking. It's not often that you see such an original and well written book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Forests and fairytales, 14 Dec. 2013
In this book Maitland is looking at the role that woods and forests have played in our national identity, primarily through stories, by also as a source of employment, fuel and food.

the book is split into 12 chapters, with 12 sub chapters. Each chapter describes a visit to a different wood or forest that she goes to. She visits these woods all around the country, one each month, as they are significant in some way, either for the variety of the species, or they historical or cultural significance. In these she explores the links that woods have with fairy stories, and the types of characters in these stories.

The small sub chapters are modern interpretations of well known fairy stories that she herself has written.

I really enjoyed the main part of the book about the forests and the history and cultural significance that trees have in our national psyche. Less enjoyable were the fairy tales. She speaks in the final chapter about children and new citizens being given a little book of classic fairy tales, and I feel that if she was going to include these she would have been better including the originals.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Splendid (but do a little fact checking as well), 4 July 2013
By 
Stewart M (Victoria, Australia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Gossip from the Forest: The Tangled Roots of Our Forests and Fairytales (Paperback)
The central premise of this book is that the stories that people tell are heavily influenced by the environment in which they (the stories) are created. This makes sense.

Flowing from this is the idea that the majority of Fairy Tales - taken here to be those transcribed from the oral tradition by the Brothers Grimm - were created within and about forests. Again, given the geographic origin of these tales, this also makes sense.

By putting these ideas together the author suggests we can learn about both forests and ourselves by looking again at these Fairy Stories. But this is not just a reworking of the "psychological" arguments analysis of Fairy Tales - where every tale has a deeper meaning - but an attempt to make sense of the themes of the tales by reference to the places they were made. And by and large this works.

The book is presented as a series of paired chapters where the first one these is based within in a named real woodland - mainly, but not exclusively, ancient woodlands. The second of the pair is a reworking a fairy tale. This does not mean its just Snow White with computers - but often a major retelling. This builds a wonderful example of the author's contention that landscapes create stories. Each woodland is different and so is each story.

I think its clear that the author loves both woodlands and fairy stories and by blending both into a single book I thinks she hopes we will come to see greater value in both. The "woodland" chapters seek to explore the "real" woodlands - with an emphasis on ecology and landscape history, while the "fairy tale" chapters are more about the symbolic importance of woodlands to story telling. This feels like a bold effort to link science and art in a way that improves both.

But (there is always a "but") there are a few mistakes of science in the book - which pedants like me will spot and use to question some of the other things that are presented. This is a real shame, as the errors really are rather minor (trees don't spread by the movement of pollen, but by the movement of seeds for example) and don't really detract from the central thrust of the book. It's just that they jarred when I read them.

Overall, I would recommend this interesting book to anybody with an interest in either woodlands or story telling. I think it achieves something rather different and generally effective in its approach to exploring why we should value woodlands.

Recommended.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book, 11 Mar. 2013
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Sara Maitland has tapped into the soul of this country; the need for trees and stories. It is a wonderful personal guide to some of the great woods of this island, but it also explores faerie tales in a modern way. We all need stories, we all need the insights they offer. I love this book and am so glad I have it as a tangible book not an e-book as I will go back to it. I have started giving it as presents as well - a sure sign a book has touched me.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forest magic for folklorists and treehuggers, 14 Nov. 2012
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A wonderful series of meditations on the significance of woodland in northern European folk tales, interspersed with Maitland's retelling of classic stories. Beautifully written and informative- a great pleasure to read, and a guide to what remains of ancient British woodland. It makes a good companion to Philip Pullman's recent'Grimm Tales for Young and Old'.Grimm Tales: For Young and Old (Penguin Hardback Classics)
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling tales, 31 Dec. 2012
By 
Big Jim "Big Jim" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
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Most of us will be familiar with the tales retold here but the author's journeys and reflections in today's forests offer an imaginative insight into the social mores of the times they were written and how relevant these still are today. There appears to be a resurgence in interest in Grimms' tales at the moment and this book acts as an excellent companion piece to them, both to the stories in here and the new book by Philip Pullman for example. The explorations in British forests are beautifully described and stand comparison with Roger Deakin and Oliver Rackham without being either too "scientific" or "new age". I can also recommend getting this on kindle as the photographs reproduce well on the kindle fire and other tablets.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, 11 April 2014
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This is a very interesting book that is an interesting mixture of fact and fiction. Her retelling of many fairy stories are particularly interesting - except the final one of Sleeping Beauty which I feel is too self-conscious. At times the link between forests and fairy stories is too tenuous: she repeats the central premise enough for me to feel that it's a simple idea struggling to maintain such a big book. YET it's a book of insight, lovely description, interesting anecdote and a reminder of the joy of fairy stories and I felt a hankering to go to the woods for a range at points. Final point: why are the few photos black and white??
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not entirely convinced, 17 Sept. 2013
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This seemed like an interesting concept on the surface, but unfortunately it isn't carried off. The structure is well thought out; a chapter about a wood/forest in the U.K (12 in all, one for each month of the year), and after each of these a version of a fairy story, but depicted with perhaps a little more realism, based in that wood. The fairy stories that the author recontructs are the best parts (her version of little red riding hood is heart breaking). However, the chapters about the woods themselves become very samey in their history, certainly not enough to keep you interested for 12 chapters with each of these chapters running to 20-25 pages. Also the marketing of the book is at fault, which is not the fault of the author, in that it is described as that the woods in the book are the woods where the fairy tales of our youth were actually based. This is completely misleading.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally delectable, 27 Nov. 2012
By 
Anne Wareham "Anne Wareham" (UK Welsh border) - See all my reviews
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For me this book had all the ingredients to make an absorbing, satisfying read: history, imagination, and woodlands. I entered this forest though, as it were, slightly apprehensive about the fairy tales. How could these be satisfactorily retold in the 21st century?

They are. Delightful.

A book to read by the fire at Christmas.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, 12 Jan. 2013
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Got this as a Christmas present and I couldn't have asked for a better read. Beautifully written with really interesting descriptions of the woods visited.
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