Both the books reviewed here were from the local library. The first was on a display ahead of National Poetry Day.
The Bees by Carol Ann Duffy
This is a beautifully produced hardback book with a ribbon bookmark. It is the both first of the poet laureate’s books, and the first, which I have read. Many of the poems include references to bees. I should like to read this with a group and discuss the poems. My own reading of it was rather superficial. It is a book to dip into rather than to read for hours on end. I read the poems in the order they were printed, apart from looking ahead to one of local interest to me. I enjoyed this book.
Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees by Roger Deakin
I began reading this book before the two works of fiction reviewed in the previous post. It is narrative nonfiction and takes a great deal of concentration. I was tempted to give up, but then I found some really interesting parts and resolved to finish reading it. I had to renew it twice, although I might have finished it within six weeks, had I not had a week away. I finished reading it at the beginning of November.
I have already read and reviewed Waterlogged, Roger Deakin’s earlier book. I learned about him through reading books by Robert Macfarlane, his literary executor. After I finished reading Wildwood I looked at the copyright page and discovered that this book was published posthumously. I wonder whether a more readable version might have resulted had there been an opportunity for correspondence between the author and an editor. The book is divided into sections, but it is relatively unstructured and seemed to end abruptly. At one point it takes seven pages to reveal the name of the person making the change from first person singular to first person plural necessary.
I love trees and find wooden objects attractive. I have enjoyed walks in forests in England, Scotland, Wales and Oregon. Wildwood broadened my horizons even more than my own travel! There is a great deal of fascinating information about trees, forests and people who live and work in woodlands in many parts of the world. When he was overseas, Roger Deakin compared the landscape with familiar places in Britain. (I had been more surprised by the similarities between species in Oregon, than differences. I had expected it to be more foreign. This seems to be a human tendency – to relate the new to the known. It works well in Deakin’s descriptions of foreign places.)
Walnuts, apples, ash trees, eucalyptus, farmers, craftsmen, folk traditions, and almost anything imaginable connected with wood are included. As it is a travel book as well as a nature book, photographs would have been an interesting addition. However there are illustrations at the start of each chapter. There is a lot of description, setting scenes and describing tools, gadgets and more in detail. A glossary of technical and foreign terms might also have helped readers.
Although I have made some critical comments about this book, I am glad I persevered with it. There is a lot of good writing and interesting information in it.
I don’t usually read reviews by other bloggers before posting my own, but as I had some strong views about this book, I searched for other reviews. The first one I found agreed with me that an index would be useful in the paperback edition.