Surfacing by Kathleen Jamie – Book Review

Surfacing by Scottish author, Kathleen Jamie, is a collection of essays about memories, history, and the natural world. Jamie explores what it takes for history to resurface and become part of the present through wide-ranging triggers that are arresting in their own right: rising temperatures melting the Alaskan tundra; shifting dunes revealing a neolithic village on an Orkney island; a voice, a memento, a dream...

Enchanted by Trees – Finding Wildflowers in September and October

I’m fascinated by trees, like many other humans. For many years their charisma and mystery, their relatively long lives and comparatively sheer size have enchanted and inspired the human imagination. Fred Hageneder writes of this relationship in The Living Wisdom of Trees: “The entire spectrum of human existence is reflected in tree lore through the ages: from birth, death and rebirth to the age-old struggle between good and evil, and the quest for beauty, truth and enlightenment.”

Sugar Money by Jane Harris – Book Review

Martinique. 1765. Emile and Lucien are given an impossible task. Their French master, Father Cleopas, needs more slaves to manage and work the new sugar plantations and rum distillery. His plan is anything but simple: the two brothers have to return discreetly to Grenada, the island they were born on but that's now under British rule. There they have to convince the slaves, who are now considered British property, to return with them in secret to Martinique to work for their former French masters. The task seems far-fetched and exceptionally dangerous to the older Emile. But Lucien, who is just entering his teen years, looks forward to reconnecting with his brother during what he feels can only be a heroic adventure. Despite their personal feelings and reservations, the brothers have no choice but to obey their master and set off to Grenada…

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke – Book Recommendation

I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get round to this one. I’m often late to the party and the fact that I only read Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (JS&MN) by Susanna Clarke (2004) in 2021 is proof of this. Clarke's debut fantasy novel divides readers between those who loved it and … Continue reading Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke – Book Recommendation

The Hidden World of the Fox by Adele Brand – Book Review

I’ve been intrigued by foxes for many years, my interest and imagination kindled by the mysterious and often mystical representation of foxes in literature. But I wanted to become better acquainted with the animals themselves and Brand’s book, packed with her knowledge and research, was an accessible read. The Hidden World of the Fox briefly … Continue reading The Hidden World of the Fox by Adele Brand – Book Review

The Familiars by Stacey Halls – Book Review

A witch-hunt in Northern England in 1612 led to the accusation and imprisonment of twelve women. One of the women died in custody, ten were found guilty of witchcraft and hanged. Only one was acquitted. The Familiars explores some of the burning questions around this notorious piece of history: why would women willingly admit to witchcraft if the penalty was death? Considering the lack of evidence, and that the main informant was a child, why was only one woman, Alice Gray, found not guilty? The book is a well-researched work of fiction based on these historic events.

Wildflowers in June and July – The Garden as Teacher

Gardens are teachers. The joy and satisfaction I experience when I spend time in my garden come from a deeply rooted relationship. As I tend my garden, it tends me and my need to nurture, create, and build a relationship with nature, or the non-human world. I tend sick plants, plant seedlings, water pots, add compost. I decide where to create borders, which plants to thin, how to prune shrubs and trees, how often to deadhead flowers. But the garden has a life and agency of its own...