T H E S H E P H E R D ‘ S L I F E .
It’s been such a long time since I shared a little ‘what I’m reading right now’ post! And there’s really only one reason for that- because I’ve not read anything in a pretty long time…
Which is bad! I can’t think of a single reason now why I hadn’t picked up a book in ages before the last couple of weeks, other than the fact that I feel I spend most of my ‘reading time’, reading blogs! I guess that’s the way things are for us internet-dwellers, right?
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I actually bought the The Shepherd’s Life for Jason as one of his Christmas presents this year. He’s so fond of all things rural, and a quick glance through the book’s blurb whilst standing in Waterstone’s one busy afternoon in early December told me that this was a book for him.
He ploughed through it during the few weeks after Christmas then promptly handed it over, saying that I just *have* to read it. And you know? It’s every bit as lovely as he said!
The Shepherd’s Life’s title tells you most of what you need to know about the book. It’s written by farmer James Rebanks, and tells the story of his life and heritage running a farm bought by his Grandfather, then passed on to his own father, in a rugged valley in the Lake District.
The book begins with a prologue, in which James recalls the first time he came to realise that the farming way of life he had grown up with was considered by some to be unambitious and ‘provincial, and talks of ‘cultural imperialism’ and the strangeness of those who claim ownership over land they’ve perhaps only visited on a handful of occasions. He writes about being a ‘forgotten people’, and his desire to bring to light the lives men and women have been quietly living, throughout Great Britain, for many thousands of years.
The book plots the course of the year, split up into four sections- Summer, Autumn, Winter, and Spring. He describes the yearly rituals of bringing the sheep down from the fells from their wild grazing, and the skill of the sheepdogs, and the way the farmers work together to ease one another’s workload.
It’s a quiet sort of story- describing in raw, poetic detail the farming year in all its intricacies and hardships and toils. And because of that, it’s beautiful. A world away from Instagram notifications and packed tube carriages and 5:2 diets and never-ending fashion weeks- instead, it’s about tradition, and knowledge being passed through generations, and a way of existing that, as James writes, has been almost unchanged for 5000 years.
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I’m about two thirds of my way through the book now, and am just adoring every page of. It really is a treasure- I can’t recommend it highly enough!