- Also check our best rated Travel Book reviews
A Place In My Country: In Search Of A Rural Dream Paperback – 1 May 2008
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
"[Walthew's] beautifully written book is an elegy for an England that is dying" (Max Davidson DAILY TELEGRAPH)
"Avoiding the usual bland elegy for the rustic and redemptive, his book is a valuable memoir, both personal and social, a meditation on belonging in one of many Englands." (OBSERVER)
"a hard-edged and moving account of life in rural Britain today" (SUNDAY TIMES)
"Compelling and often deeply moving...Walthew has a genuine gift for bringing both people and places to life and marshals his runaway real life narratives with a novelist's skill." (Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall)
"I read A Place in My Country with absolute unalloyed delight. A glorious book." (Jeremy Irons)
"he finds a farming heartbeat that is proud and defiant, defended by a cast of characters that outshine The Archers. A revelation of a book" (Tim Butcher, author Blood River)
"affecting and inspiring memoir...required reading for anyone who claims to know or love this country" (FINANCIAL TIMES)
"Funny, touching and ultimately very moving, this is a beautiful, unsentimental account of a personal loss that is reflected in the rapidly changing texture of life in rural England." (Clover Stroud SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)
"a riveting read" (COUNTRY LIFE)
"The book is a fascinating snapshot. All of life is here - birth, death, struggles with illness, hard work, lots of laughter. It will make you smile gently to yourself, laugh out loud, shed a quiet tear and feel angry at the changes happening in our countryside." (NFU'S COUNTRYSIDE MAGAZINE)
From the Author
This is a story of two journeys, my own, but within a much larger one, that of the English countryside. It is but a brief moment in time in one tiny patch of Albion, a country I am proud to be from. I have tried to be as truthful and accurate as my understanding at the time and my memory allows, given that I never set out to write this book when I moved there. I have changed all names, many geographical indicators and some minor incidental details (as well as excluding many experiences and conversations at the request of some of those who appear within this story), to afford at least a degree of privacy in a process which I am fully aware is deeply intrusive. On very few occasions I have merged an incident, or a conversation or two, for reasons of brevity or discretion. My apologies for any unintended misrepresentations or offence in trying to paint one small corner of that very much larger, ever changing picture that is the English countryside.
I am neither an academic nor a journalist, so this book was never intended to provide either a complete or an entirely balanced view of even a few hundred acres of England. Indeed, in my decision to buy what was once the home of an agricultural labourer, I was no neutral observer; in fact I was a participant in some of the problems that I describe. Nor am I an expert on farming or modern estate management; nor do I offer any real solutions to the problems facing the lives of country people.
There are many voices I did not hear, many people I did not meet, and many things I have learned since; there is yet more I am still to understand.
Mostly, though, I hope I will take the reader to a world that, for all its mutability, is nonetheless how I like to think of England: regions of breathless beauty, full of devilment, humour and rich untold histories.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The book is a lament to the death of the small mixed farm in favour of huge farms, and the loss to the countryside, the community and wildlife as small fields and stone walls disappear to be replaced by large fields in huge farms that can be managed by a couple of farm workers on mega tractors supplemented by seasonal workers. The author's neighbour is a farmer clinging doggedly to the old mixed farm system, in tune with nature and the seasons - I hope he is still there all these years later, perhaps helped along by farm payments linked to biodiversity and environmental aspects rather than excess production.
The book has a great sense of community and a lively set of characters that come to life on the page. I share some of the author's concern - my village is smaller than the one he lived in and is surrounded by farms but there are very few, if any, farmworkers in the village and the children of longstanding village families will struggle to find jobs that will pay them enough to buy houses in their home village if that is what they want to do. A few incomers (some having lived here for many years) have tended to take over in community affairs - although in part this is because no-one else will get involved - and there is a bit of a feeling of 'them and us'. I smirked at a few of the descriptions of people, knowing we have the same types in our village!
It is a very thoughtful, and thought-provoking, book and the author immersed himself in rural life in a way that few would do - I imagine Norman, his farming neighbour, was very happy to have a such a willing supplier of free labour (just as my grandparents were delighted to have visiting grandchildren to help out as unpaid labourers during school holidays). I liked too that the author, unlike many village dwellers, had contacts and friends across the social spectrum, indeed I detected a disdain in his forays into the 'county set'. However, in the end, the rural dream falls in the face of needing work to pay the bills, the reason why the author and his wife upped sticks.
An excellent read, therefore, by an author who approached his new rural life with an openness and humility that is often absent from newcomers.
As a lover of the genre of books about people who have picked up to live in lands foreign to them, I was also curious about what happens when one goes back to ones home country (as the author does) after being gone so long. I must admit that I have lived outside my home country for over ten years and am yet to move back, if ever. But even those who have left their hometown, if not their country, and returned years later could identify with the author's alienation and then reconciliation with the ghost version of ourselves that still live there.
Personally I would have liked the author to write more openly of the death of his father and brother earlier in the book. It was alluded to in quick, fleeting, and somewhat obscure ways early on, and very little is revealed until much further on in the book, yet it is an important piece of the story. But observing the author's reinvention of himself and transformation from high flying international marketing director to writer, organizer of informal shoots, and father more than makes up for that.
This book is a "must read." I laughed, I cried, I wanted to know all the characters; I wanted to be able to walk to the local pub and share a beer with them. The humour is dry and subtle. The author's descriptions of the countryside around his cottage are sensitive and anyone who loves and daydreams of pastoral landscapes would enjoy this book. Best of all, if you have ever dreamed of chucking your job to do something you really want to do, even if you don't know what that is, this is a book for you!
I instantly became very involved with the local characters,Norman the farmer next door at first appeared aloof and odd,but soon I got to know him and realized how hardworking and honest he really was.It was the same with the others, as the story unfolded I got to know them well.
The descriptions of the seasons in the country was so real that I could feel the warmth of summer or the bleakness of the winter months, I could picture the surrounding land and got to know the lanes where the Author did his morning run.
On a personal note I didnt always agree with the writers opinions, for example Canal Restoration, something I have been involved with and support but that didnt deter me from enjoying the book.
I began to share the familys everyday achievments and anxietys, when they were worried about possibly leaving Lettem I felt all their emotions, it was so real!
An excellent realistic description of the life and dreams of living in rural England.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews
I just wanted to...Read more