Customer Review

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read, 12 Aug 2012
This review is from: The Natural History of Selborne (Penguin English Library) (Mass Market Paperback)
If you like intelligent writing and matters rural and historical then you will surely enjoy this book.

I knew of Gilbert White, (1720 - 1793) but very little about him before reading this book, but I now have a clear impression of the life that he led.

This book has been a fascinating read for many reasons. The most obvious is learning about this rather `odd ball' of a person, who on one level lived an unremarkable and gentle life as a village curate. Whilst on a broader and encompassing level, by his keen powers of observation and journal keeping, left behind him a priceless legacy of an account of the natural history, (focussed largely on the local ornithology) of the, at the time, isolated Hampshire village of Selbourne.

Maybe has deftly encapsulated for us the lengthy process, stretching over some twenty years or more, by which White's natural history of Selbourne came into being. He absolutely conveys White's quirky character and his overriding passion for the hirundines - swallows, swifts and house-martins.

But this biography provides us with so much more than a straight forward account of one man, because it is interwoven with wonderful snippets of social history of the Georgian period through which Gilbert White lived. We gain glimpses of southern English rural village life as well as learning some of the clerical politics at the time. Fascinating too are the references to the macro events of the threat of a French invasion along the southern coast and later the French revolution and how these were reacted to in this country.

This book won the Whitbread biography of the year award and one can see why. It is a shame that subsequently, judging by the paltry number of reviews it has received, it seems to have been overlooked because this is a book worthy of your time.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 21 Feb 2013 20:34:58 GMT
Josa says:
This is a review of Richard Mabey's excellent biography of Gilbert White , not of The Natural History of Selborne.
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