Top positive review
114 people found this helpful
As refreshing as a blowy winter walk by the sea
on 20 July 2005
This is a beautiful collection of essays, evocative, poetic, humane and rooted. The reader is cradled by the style, taught to look and to see and above all appreciate a sense of place and context. It can be highly recommended to anyone in need of refreshment from grind or grime.
I bought this book because I felt a deep sense of gratitude for Kathleen Jamie's 'Among Muslims'; she is one of a few writers I buy automatically. This collection has not disappointed. The essays have at their core a passion for Scotland the wild, the home but not romantic or rose-tinted. The issues she raises from within herself are relevant to any human location. The stresses and strains of mans relationship with the environment are described in a context that is clear and meaningful. By the end the essays have shown the reader to see and view the environment with a poignant reality rare in books of any sort. This is an inspiring enviromental appreciation and its gentle understanding of the complex facets involved in these debates is unique; no bullying tone but a clear and deep gratitude for surrounding both natural and man-made. Begging nothing more than an aware, sensitive and achievable response from the reader.
The language is poetic and resonant. My husband has gone blind quite recently and I am often on the look out for books that are visually strong enough for him to enjoy. I read the first chapter to him, its subject, Darkness and Light was beautifully evocative of a place we had visited when he had more sight. Yet we agreed had you not visited these places you would still feel enchanted and drawn towards them.
The 'essay' style of the collection is also attractive. Busy family life can preclude long complicated reads, especially in summer. These essays are related but clearly individual a great asset when perpetual interruptions of, for example, children at home prevent longer studious reads. They would be a wonderful companion on a journey or daily commute or when short time spans are all that is available. Yet the writing is no less challenging for this, I used a dictionary more often than usual! I enjoyed being schooled in bits of Scots dialect and Norse entymology! At times the observations are slightly personal and sympathetically comforting, but this is not autobiography. This weaving of Kathleen Jamie's own experiences into her historical surroundings is engaging on a number of levels and encourages us to look again at simple things close at hand be they urban or rural.
Having read this I left it by my bed. I came home more than once during the month that followed keen to re-read an extract knowing that I had just seen something mentioned in Findings. The writing stays with you, it is clear and beautiful. Having never read poetry I feel inspired to read some of Kathleen Jamie's own poetry, it might be accessible.
At any level an inspiring and beautiful read and I hope that my busy somewhat menial life will continue to be enhanced by her even busier teaching and writing life, one to watch I think!