This book is described as “An anthology of women's adventure writing, poetry and art”. I do enjoy reading adventure writing (especially if it is inspirational) but I have never been interested in poetry or art. I wanted to read this book because it included material from authors which I had previously enjoyed (Sarah Outen and Heather Dawe), it also promised to follow in the footsteps of Gwen Moffat.
When I first picked up the book, I started trying to read it sequentially, from start to finish. I soon realised that my curiosity would prevent me from doing this. This book does not feel like a book that should just be read, it feels like a book which should hang around and occasionally be picked up and flicked through, until a section catches your interest. I pretty soon began to think that the only way to describe this book was “an endless box of delights”.
The book is arranged into sections Vicinity, Heart & Soul, Water and Union but I think it will be easier if I split it into art, poetry and writings. My disinterest of poetry and indifference for art can then be quickly put aside.
One peculiarity of this book, is that you can never find the same item twice, this is possibly what makes it magical. You are always discovering something else and getting sidetracked into reading that instead. I once found a picture called Enchanted Larches which I really liked, the colour of the trees reminded me of the colours which you quite often see in mountain sunsets which seem so alien. It is a magical picture and made more so by reading how the environment itself played a part in its creation.
While trying to find this picture for a second time, I stumbled upon the paintings of Paula Flach. These are scattered throughout the book and all have an accompanying story behind their creation and yes, I have to admit that I like them, they bring a smile to my face.
I also have to admit that I like the majority of the art within the book, I guess my love of the outdoors allows me to like this kind of art. I would even go one stage further and say that I am jealous of the women who have captured these images and wish I could do the same.
I’m still not quite sure that I understand poetry but I was determined to give the poems the attention which they deserved. On occasion, I felt myself half reading and half imagining the scenes in the poems. I conjured up images of Kintail, wild daffodils and failed ice axe arrests (clearly not at the same time). Maybe this is how to read poetry, just to skim it and let the scene appear in you mind’s eye? Okay, I have to admit it, I enjoyed the poetry in this book and feel like these are the pages which I will revisit most. Somehow I felt I could relate to it, familiar place names and scenes probably helped. I envy the wordsmiths that wrote these poems.
The writings in this book are fantastic. I have to admit that I don’t think I have read them all but I think that this is partly because I have not read the book sequentially. There is something about the stories that I can relate to, they all feel like they were written by normal people and not superhumans. They inspire, they seem attainable, they make me ask myself, why am I not living more adventurously? Why am I not doing these things? I think that is why I enjoyed Heather’s book (didn’t realise there was a second one) and Sarah’s. Maybe this is because all of the work in the book has been created by women? I have not yet mentioned this because I wanted to ignore it and just take the book as I found it.
I love the design of the book, the cover colour, the artwork and even the font. It has been designed as an item to treasure, not to read, then hide away.
Anyone who likes adventure and the outdoors should buy this book. It’s inspirational. I went for a walk in the hills last night, got benighted (again), got weary and enjoyed it. It felt adventurous. Maybe this book has made me realise what I have been missing.