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Hard going, overly earnest, verbose and rather dull in places. Another reviewer has summed this book up quite well for me: "Robert Macfarlane is po-faced and portentous; he takes himself very seriously indeed. His "honeyed prose" (London Review of Books) is actually rather turgid." While he constantly references and is keen to be associated with Roger Deakin, there is none of the joy, passion or humour of Deakin's writing.
This is a beautifully written description of the author's encounters with wilderness in different places and what the concept means to him. It's an experience more than any particular location that connects with our humanity at a deep level.
So it turns out Britain does have parts that aren't tarmaced over and within 1km of a Greggs! Robert does an excellent job of finding and describing the mountains and valleys of this land that are seldom accessed. Despite reading in the sun, his vivid stories of peaks climbed in bitter winter and utter darkness gives the reader the sense they're walking along side him and sent me looking for a blanket.
Ultimately, nature is best seen and experienced for yourself rather than read in a book which is a hurdle outdoor writing will always find hard to overcome. Nevertheless, Robert does a fantastic job and you will spend the whole time reading it and long after aching to visit these places.
I stumbled on this book by accident when it was offered as a 'Kindle daily deal': as a fan of Bruce Chatwin and Benedict Allen I thought it sounded interesting, given that the 'wild places' Macfarlane was describing were more domestic than exotic. I wasn't expecting it to challenge, stimuate and change my way of looking at things quite so radically as it did.
Macfarlane's prose is as smooth and seductive as a gentle summer breeze and he manages to evoke a description of the wild places he visits so that they come alive on the page. But perhaps most significantly, he challenges the traditional concept of 'wildness' making us realise that we do not necessarily have to tramp Rannock Moor or spend a night out on Orford Ness to know what wildness is. The book traces a journey in both a physical and metaphorical sense and when I finished it I felt as if I had taken a journey too.
I now intend to buy a paperback copy for myself - I need it on my shelf - and it's going to be a Christmas gift for several of my friends this year. Cannot wait to read his other books. If only all impulse purchases were this good!
This is an interesting ramble through some of the remoter, wild places that are to be found all over Britain.I found it entertaining but at times repetitive and monotonous, not as enthralling or colourful as his previous work. Macfarlane seems to be trying to find himself throughout the medium of wilderness and while he succeeds in part, for any reader who knows some of the wilder places on our planet or indeed on our doorsteps, this may perhaps seem a little tame. Maybe this book will appeal more to the vast majority of British people who now live their entire lives in metropolitan environments, but it is not so appealing or profound for those who are true countrymen or whose leisure time is spent exploring the more solitary parts of our exquisite country.
This took me a while to get through, but I was on a holiday in India at the time with disparate people....whom I could not connect to...and would drop into this book, and it was solace and peace to my rattled soul...he loves the Wild Places...heather, peat hags, mountain tops, rocks, snow hares..and so do I. He managed to write of these places in a magic way...I don't know how he does it, as it is never boring..he does sleep under rocks with water dripping onto him from above, or in a hollow in a grassy bank. I like the way he makes these experiences totally normal, what we might all do............and don't, bringing us into the sphere of nature and natural ways.
If you dream of getting away from it all to the wildest parts of our beautiful islands then read Roberts book "The Wild Places". His writing is so clear and fresh that you can almost feel the wind on your face, smell the flora and hear the song of the birds around you. It almost feels like you are walking with him. I read this while travelling to and from work each day and I so wanted to get off at the next stop and walk into the hills and sleep under the stars or miss my stop and continue my journey to the Welsh coast and bathe in the sea. Robert brings the landscapes he travels through alive with their history and folklore and takes you through his own personal journey of discovery as he does so. The Wild Places is a really well written book and I would recommend it to anyone who loves being out in our spectacular countryside. When I'm in need to go for a long walk but can't I'm going to read a chapter of this book.
Robert Macfarlane's book 'wild places' eloquently describes the feeling I've often experienced in wild places, but have been unable to articulate. This book is about his various trips around the wild places of Britain and Ireland, mixed in with a history of the place visited, stories of the people who have been before and an interesting smattering of word origin. Occasionally quite gritty with the weather experienced, the book provides a nice antidote with stories of night walks under starry skies, or swimming in some little known pool around the UK coast. This is a nice book that can be read in one sitting, or dipped into now and then.
A beautiful book, recounting the author’s journeys through some of Britain’s wild places, sometimes alone, and sometimes accompanied by one or two close friends who share his love of the wild. The language of the book is spell-binding, taking the reader on a parallel journey, weaving science and literature, knowledge and wonder. .
“From the bottom of the hill, I could hear the noise of the trees with the wind; a marine roar that grew in volume as I approached. Looking up at the swaying wood, I remembered something that I had read: when you see a wood or a forest, you must imagine the ground almost as a mirror line, because a tree’s subterranean root system can spread nearly as widely as its aerial crown. For the visible canopy of each tree you have to imagine an inverted hidden one, yearning for water just as its twin yearns for light.”
“Once, emerging from a high-hedged lane, I put up a flock of white doves from a brown field, and watched as they rose applauding into the sky.”
“Lines of spider’s silk criss-crossed the air in their scores, and light ran like drops of bright liquid down them when we moved. In the windless warm air, groups of black flies bobbed and weaved, each dancing around a set point, like vibrating atoms held in a matrix. I had the sense of being in the nave of a church: the joined vaulting of the trees above, the stone sides of the cutting which were cold when I laid a hand against them, the spindles of sunlight, the incantations of the flies.”
“Coleridge once compared walking at night in his part of the Lake District to a newly blind man feeling the face of a child: the same loving attention, the same deduction by form and shape, the same familiar unfamiliarity. At night, new orders of connection assert themselves: sonic, olfactory, tactile. The sensorium is transformed. Associations swarm out of the darkness. You become even more aware of landscape as a medley of effects, a mingling of geology, memory, movement, life. The landforms remain, but they exist as presences: inferred, less substantial, more powerful. You inhabit a new topology. Out at night, you not only understand that wildness is not only a permanent property of land – it is also a quality which can settle on a place, with a snowfall, or with the close of day.”
Read, and find yourself wanting to begin your own journey.
The Wild Places is by Robert Macfarlane, a Cambridge don and adventurer of the old school. In searching for the wild places left in our crowded island Macfarlane takes us on a journey through time and landscape evoking memories of childhood, of legend and of history. From the high branches of an ancient beech tree on the outskirts of Cambridge to a snow shelter in the Cairngorms we tread in the footsteps of Celtic saints and Welsh poets to find a world that is still there if we know how to see it. Macfarlane is a skilful guide.