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"In The Garden, Nothing Had Changed - Except Me."
on 28 April 2014
Written with an eloquence that rivals Ruth Brook's vast scientific curiosity, this little book proved to be a deeply inspirational account of how one woman made her peace with the molluscs invading her garden, and in so doing, found peace within herself as well. It begins as a nostalgic memoir of her childhood in the 1940s-50s, within the context of her enduring love of nature. Along the way, snails play a role in her memories, but it is not until she begins to wonder how to rid her flowerbeds of these "pests" without killing them that she takes a long-shot and enters the BBC Amateur Scientist competition.
From here on, the book becomes heavy on science. The author has a marvelous style of writing, a rare blend of entertaining and educational. She is quite enthusiastic about her subject, while her recounting of the trials, tribulations and successes of her homing instinct experiment, were, for this snail enthusiast, thrilling to read. Incidentally, Ruth Brooks has gone no little way in proving what most snail owners would already swear to - that they are far more intelligent than modern science would suggest, and in particular, snails have a memory.
Throughout the experiment, she is beset with challenges, which she overcomes with a positive outlook, and it becomes amazing, even to those few of us who are so fond of our gastropods, that such a tiny, seemingly unimportant creature as the snail could be the catalyst that so profoundly changed her outlook on herself, and her place in Nature. That all lives are of significance.
For mollusc lovers, this book is the Holy Grail of Snail Tomes. It was also very much uplifting, the sort of thing that restores one's faith in humanity. I found it an absolute pleasure to read.