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Running for the Hills: A Family Story Paperback – 30 Nov 2006
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'The young family has to face the hardships that small farmers and smallholders endure everywhere' (The Times)
'A tender, eloquent book about love, the power of the land and the price to paid for living out one's dreams' (Sarah Dunant)
'A joy ... heartening, raw, tender.' (John Carey, Sunday Times)
'Touching, funny and extremely well-written' (Telegraph)
Enchanting ... magical ... so beautifully written that you almost hold your breath' (Daily Mail)
'A major talent' (Marie Clare)
'Beautifully written ... crammed with precious details ... It should be required reading' (Guardian)
'It is the prose equivalent of a collection of poems by Ted Hughes - or Wordsworth' (Sunday Times)
'The classic Great Escape . . . strikingly told' (Matthew Bell, TLS)
'An assured and compelling first book ... A moving exploration of the slow triumph of adversity over optimism' (Rose Tremain, The Sunday Telegraph)
'Do you want to spend your whole life on the tube? Wouldn't you rather live somewhere wild and beautiful and free?'
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Top customer reviews
Well I've just finished it & I honestly think it's one of the most enjoyable reading experiences I've had in a very long time. It tells the story of Horatio's parents decision to leave London & set up home in a very remote Welsh hillside sheep farm.
It is really the story of a remarkable woman Jenny, (Horatio Clare's mother), who is completely and passionately obsessed with her desire to suceed in the toughest of environments, doing a job traditionally the domaine of men who have the benefit of years of family history & experience.
Jenny & her new husband, Robert arrive, virtual novices and throw themselves into the challenge of several lifetimes trying to keep themselves & their stock alive.
The challenges leave the couple no time for leisure or life as a 'couple' and the marriage inevitably fails. Robert returns to his life in London, leaving Jenny to continue farming alone, helped by her two young sons and an ageing neighbour.
It is partly the story of the unrelenting harshness of the hardest of farming environments, made utterly enchanting due to Jenny's absolute love of her animals and nature and her dedication to the task, which is also to give her boys a magical childhood.
The story is told by Horatio Clare who has a delicate touch - the story is his, but it is told in a objective way which makes you forget it is his life and mother he is describing. His ability to appreciate the beauty and convey it so wonderfully is a constant testament to his mother's passion and enthusiasm which never wanes, no matter how awful life becomes for them at times. You want to read & reread whole chapters, so beautiful is the writing.
If I were an English teacher, I would be using this book to encourage and inspire children to understand the beauty and power of words and nature.
Though Jenny eventually and reluctantly leaves the farm, she does so having achieved her mission; Horatio leaves you in no doubt that he and his brother have been blessed with the most passionate and inspiring of upbringings a child could ever have.
I'm a bit bemused by the rapturous reviews! The writing is competent but not sensational as the cover reviews would suggest, and it does plod from time to time.
But I would be happy to recommend this to anyone who wants a very interesting account of a town family moving to the country and ultimately failing to engage with it.
It is the story of a family who give up living on London, to try to find a more peaceful environment, and end up buying and living on a rather remote sheep farm on a mountain in South Wales.
It is a tender, and honest memoir about the bleakness, beauty, and at times primitive life on a working farm.
The author writes well with a keen eye for observations on nature, and his family.
Not all goes well or to plan, but it is wonderful to open this book, and be transported to the farm for a while.
I enjoyed it immensely and recommend it highly. I'm only slightly disappointed there are no photos of the family, friends and the farm.
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