Top positive review
7 people found this helpful
Now one of my favourite books
on 24 July 2016
I loved this book - it is so beautifully written. I was lulled the whole way through by its gentle rhythms and lyrical descriptions, so that reading it felt almost like a meditation. The natural setting John Baker is describing (the Essex countryside) reminded me of growing up in the 1960s when birds and insects were far more abundant than they seem to be nowadays. Despite the fact that the author's observations over 10 years have been concertinaed into one year, the sheer variety of the birds he mentions serves as a stark reminder of how much damage we are doing to the planet through the use of pesticides and chemicals.
I first heard about John Baker through the excerpts from "The Peregrine" in John Gray's book "The Silence of Animals" (in the chapter "Another Sunlight") and felt I had to buy it. John Gray notes that the book had been billed as a piece of nature writing, but that it is, in fact, more "radical": "'The Peregrine' is a tribute to the sense of freedom the bird evoked in Baker as he watched it in flight; but, more than that, the book is a record of the author's struggle to see the landscape in which he pursued the bird through the eyes of the bird itself".
With "The Peregrine" comes Baker's other masterpiece, "The Hill of Summer" - a more general description of nature divided up according to the summer months set in different locations. It is equally beautiful, with the author's sense of detachment from humanity being even more palpable.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough and it is a shame it is not better known.