Meadowland: the private life of an English field Hardcover – 22 May 2014
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"My book of the year. Meadowland is a seasonal journey of discovery, a pilgrimage that nurtures the soul and gives meaning to life; all life. Each beautifully crafted sentence provides a stepping-stone to absorb and understand the land, with the writer’s lyrical voice acting as guide and trusty staff as well as illuminating the mind’s eye with wonderful imagery and perceptive literary devices." (Stuart Winter Sunday Express)
"Fascinating ... Books have been written about entire countries that contain a less interesting cast of characters than Lewis-Stempel's account of one field on the edge of Wales. Foxes, red kites and voles become as intricately shaded as characters in an HBO drama, the readers' sympathies swinging between them and their adversaries. Not every English meadow contains such a vast variety of wildlife as Lewis-Stempel's, and he's lucky to live somewhere so unspoilt, but his immense, patient powers of observation – along with a flair for the anthropomorphic – mean he is able to offer a portrait of animal life that's rare in its colour and drama.
Lewis-Stempel's eye for detail and the poetic imagery of sentences such as "Behind me the river shouts with the abandon of a football crowd" or "Someone has stirred the clouds into milk pudding" are reminiscent of the late, brilliant Roger Deakin...
There is barely a creature in Meadowland that I didn't learn at least one interesting new fact about (the occasional tendency of badgers to hold funerals for one another is a particular favourite)." (Tom Cox Observer)
"Engaging, closely-observed and beautiful ... this author’s deep love of the world around him is as inspiring as it is entertaining. This wonderful book ... is most of all, a moving hymn of gratitude from a man so rooted, so full of joy that he likens his land to a cathedral and knows that: ‘To stand alone in a field in England and listen to the morning chorus of the birds is to remember why life is precious'." (Bel Mooney Daily Mail)
"[JLS] has a sharp eye, a fluent pen and that omnivorous, innocently English curiosity about wild creatures... There are lyrical moments aplenty but this is not the cloying 'regardez-moi maman' nature writing. JLS's tone is level, involved, humorous and even self-deprecating... This is a rich, interesting book, generously studded with raisins of curious information." (Angus Clarke The Times)
"My holiday reading: [John Lewis-Stempel] knows not only all about the different kinds of life in such a place and how they all fit together, but can also write so vividly." (Philip Pullman The Guardian)
A love song to the land. A magical month by month observation through parted grass of the flora and fauna of a meadow.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
I'm left in awe of the following: firstly, the quite astonishing range of flora and fauna thus seemngly-simple exercise encompasses (the list of same at the book's end runs to five pages), all under our eyes but largely never seen (or more accurately, never noticed). Second, the amazing powers of Lewis-Stempel's observation; his, compared to most of us, is x-ray vision - he can even find interesting things to see in the digging of a post-hole. A man to be envied, totally engaged with an intricate eco-system by the simple expedient of using his eyes.
A simple concept, an absorbing read.
His love for the land, and it's citizens, shines out from every page, as does a genuine understanding of nature's annual cycle. The book is written as a diary but whether your interest is in ornithology, botany, biology, agriculture or just a desire to learn more about your surroundings, this book is a page turner. If you enjoy walking, and wish to know more about the land you are walking through, this book is a 'must read'.
Meadowland is true to its title, it isn't about impressive scenery, it is about a meadow. But the author succeeds in making that simple field, simply, impressive. By the end of the book, the reader is left with the feeling that this has been a really worthwhile journey to have taken.A journey through the, apparently, but far from, ordinary. A thoroughly recommended read.
There are two reasons. First, the wearyingly excessive use of simile and metaphor, which ultimately become boring. There is barely a sentence without one or other and worse, they range from the barren ("low insectoid drone" p159); the ill-matched ("effervescent mole heaps" p68); the knicker-knotting ("I fret eschatalogically" p77); the elephantine ("lumined aethereality" p144) right through to, as if we haven't already had enough, ("Moles work in four-hour shifts of Stakhonovite endeavour" p61).
Second, the author writes in short sentences which, if used occasionally, are a useful technique with which to make emphasis; but in dollops - as here - they completely loose their impact by becoming just a batch of notes. In essence, the book is devoid of lyricism and so I fail to understand what the over-ripe review on the back of the dust-jacket is going on about.
Any good points? Well, there are interesting facts along the way - the derivation of meadow; wassail; the 'flushing' of grass and measuring the age of hedgerows are some of interest. His description of scything is not bad and, at the very least, will strike a chord with anyone who has engaged in this delightful skill. His List Raisonné (yes, really) of books at the end is pretty standard fare and offer useful starting points for further natural history study.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Forget the big picture and revel in the close-ups. A beautifully written book with the sort of close-focus observations which few of us make time to create. A revelation.Published 1 day ago by Cymraes70
I found the book very interesting,with all the minutiae detail of the years event. It is an area where I have enjoyed having holidays wuhPublished 17 days ago by MRS M MELLOR
Well researched and informative about the the inhabitants of the countryside it's easy to take for grantedPublished 19 days ago by Gib
A lovely book. I have only glanced at a few pages as I am saving it for my holiday but looking forward to reading it properly. Read morePublished 22 days ago by H. Lowe
Everyone should read this book! Well-written and with great insight, it's an eye-opener.Published 1 month ago by Brenda
Bought as a present and loved by the recipient. Beautifully written book,a must for country loversPublished 1 month ago by Wendy