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Nature Cure Paperback – 19 Jun 2008
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"A brilliant, candid and heartfelt memoir...The account of how he broke free of depression, reshaped his life and reconnected with the wild becomes nothing short of a manifesto for living...Mabey's particular vision, informed by a lifetime's reading and observation, is ultimately optimistic. It is also what makes his voice so appealing amid all the froth and flam of the eco-debate" (Philip Marsden Sunday Times)
"A book of which only he could have written a single page...marvellously observed, deeply felt from sentence to sentence. The writing is exquisite" (David Sexton, Evening Standard)
"Subtle, devotional, poetic" (Observer)
"Rich, invigorating and deeply restorative" (Irish Times)
"Nature Cure moves between the nervous breakdown of an individual and the madness of the modern world with a prescience akin to that of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land" (Jonathan Bate Guardian)
"Mabey is a radical, inheritor of an old English tradition...The core of the book is his exploration of his new landscape. It feels a privilege to share it, watching him unpick the layers of watery Norfolk, with dazzling skill and the warmest of hearts, as his troubled mind heals" (Michael McCarthy Independent)
"Written in the radiant, tingle-making prose that has earned Mabey literary prizes and a multitude of fans... both a wake-up call and an example of how the love of nature can electrify and heal the imagination." (Val Hennessy Daily Mail)
"An inspiring book" (Nicholas Bagnall Sunday Telegraph)
"Britain's greatest living nature writer" (The Times)
'Britain's greatest living nature writer' (The Times) describes how he conquered clinical depression through his re-awakened love of nature.See all Product description
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Throughout, Mabey describes his breakdown and steady recovery with his characteristic laid-back style, like your favourite uncle relating exploits from a distant past. We get a glimpse of what may have caused his freefall into depression when he describes what it takes to be a full-time writer: “doggedness to be alone in a room for a very long time.”
His honesty is admirable. Owning up to depression is never easy, even these days, perhaps especially for a successful writer at the pinnacle of his career (he had just completed the epic and lauded Flora Brittanica). Even more difficult was when depression robbed him of his desire to write: “it made me lose that reflex, it was like losing the instinct to put one foot in front of the other.” But obviously Mabey regained that reflex, and how he did is very touching – and through writing he began to unlock “pieces of me that had been dormant for years.”
His style is warmly conversational, making the book easy and pleasurable to read, despite the subject matter. He gently leads you from subject to subject, so that you forget where the conversation started. One moment he is describing wild horses on Redgrove Fen, and his musings about their origins leads to cave paintings in France and then to local Stone Age flint mines in Norfolk, and somehow to Virginia Woolf and moats and the author Roger Deakin. Is this what he refers to later as “free-range reading?”
A criticism was brewing in my mind – that Mabey was simply too nice. But then around halfway he criticizes David Attenborough! I had to re-read the paragraph to make sure I was not mistaken. I wasn’t. He even called a scene from Attenborough’s “The Life of Mammals” a freak show.
Nature Cure is definitely a recommended read, for anyone interested in good writing about nature, and the cure he describes might well be of benefit to others suffering from depression too.
The cure which came about through the love and support of friends and above all , a change of environment jerked him into a new state of awareness and he was able very gradually to take stock of himself, his life and future thanks to the nourishment of the new nature surrounding him.
Mabey had lived for most of his life in one house in the Chiltern Hills, he owned a wood there and, as much of his other work suggests, the place was central to who he was. Depression robbed him of that connection and in the end he was needed to leave. He needed to reconnect with a place and he needed to reconnect with the person he was. In the end he suceeds.
Anybody who has lost touch with a place they love, or has struggled with depression will recognize the things described in this book. However, this is not just a book for migrants or the depressed, far from it. It is full of simple stories that put place and self at the centre of things - and in these days of increasing stress and social isolation these are no bad stories to hear. We often define ourselves through our relationships with place and space and struggle when these are stripped of meaning.
Mabey writes "I don't think that love of one's own place that bears no hostility to others is a bad emotion", but I think it may have taken him a while to reach this conclusion.
This is a fascinating and honest account of a person trapped in the quick sand of depression,change and doubt, and finally emerging on to the firm ground of connection. Highly recommended.
His recovery, helped by friends and the lovely Polly is a pleasure to read. The colour and pleasure of a life that he had thought lost slowly reappear and through it all there is the wonder and beauty of nature.
It is very readable and one of the most thought provoking books I've read for a long time. I am carrying around a wealth of new information, which I find myself retrieving and considering throughout the day. Mabey has a deep and comprehensive affinity with the countryside and ecology and writes quite beautifully. I will be re-reading this very soon.
He is part of my interwoven trio of rural writers that I recommend frequently and enthusiastically - the other two being Ronald Blythe and Roger Deakin.
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in it and the emotions alongside them so gently and accurately captured…a...Read more
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