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Two books about farming

Perhaps my previous book review post Two books about the countryside could have had the same title as this one. The two books reviewed here are by people, who are currently farming in the north of England. I didn’t read them consecutively, sandwiching a work of fiction between them. Look out for my review of that shortly!

Book cover Adventures of the Yorkshire Shepherdess

Adventures of the Yorkshire Shepherdess by Amanda Owen is the first of her books I have read, but the fourth she has written. It is described on the cover as ‘The new book from TV’s favourite shepherdess’. I haven’t seen her on TV, either. However, I follow her on Twitter and have heard her speak on BBC Radio 4. I read Adventures of the Yorkshire Shepherdess on my phone using the Borrow Box App, where it was one of the featured books. It was published in March 2020.

Amanda Owen has a lively style of writing. The farm and her large family provide her with plenty to write about. How she finds the time is difficult to imagine, but as she said in the book, ‘If you want anything done ask a busy person’. The introduction sets the scene and we meet the family with their six children. Although part of a series, Adventures of the Yorkshire Shepherdess stands alone. Farming successes and sad events as well as the purchase of a house and its refurbishment make for variety. Stories of missing animals add drama. There is a section with photographs. Conversations in particular are in Yorkshire dialect. The family increases in size and other interesting characters feature in the adventures. Amanda Owen’s next book is being published on 28th October 2021.

Book cover - English Pastorl

Reviews of two of James Rebanks’ earlier books have appeared on this blog. His latest book English Pastoral – An Inheritance was in the local library when I made a flying visit to it recently. I had wanted to read it since its publication in September 2020. James Rebanks farms in Cumbria not all that far from Amanda Owen. The counties of Yorkshire and Cumbria neighbour one another. In English Pastoral James Rebanks considers the introduction to farming his grandfather gave him as a boy. His family’s farming history on two farms and his life on one of those now in the changing climate (of ideas as well as weather) are described evocatively. I have followed this author on Twitter since before his first book was published and his anonymity as @herdyshepherd1 (a contributor to Cumbria Life magazine) ended.

Although this book is mainly about a particular location, there is nothing parochial about it. The author is well aware of the wider world. One of the people, who endorsed English Pastoral is Isabella Tree, whose book Wilding I reviewed recently. It’s a small world! English Pastoral was the book of the year 2020 in several UK newspapers. James Rebanks is working on his next book.

I enjoyed both these books and feel that I now understand more about the various activities I observe in the fields around the village where I live, than I did even last month!

With all the debate about climate change, rewilding and food supplies, the voices of people working on the land are particularly worth listening to. These two authors want to leave the world a better place than they found it.

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Quintilla paint chip challenge

This week’s Paint chip challenge from Linda Krushcke is for quintillas. Do visit her blog to see the the definition of quintilla, the colours and her poem for this challenge.

She writes:

‘Today we’ll be writing one or more quintillas.

‘Your challenge is to write at least one stanza in the quintilla form. You can certainly write more if you like, but one well-crafted quintilla is all I’m asking.

‘I was inspired by the requirement of five lines to only give you five paint chip words and phrases to work with.

‘Those words and phrases are robin’s egg, jade, The Scarlet Letter, slow, and goldfish. I would like you to use at least two of these in your quintilla. If you can use them as your rhyme words, all the better. But you could also pick one to be your title but not use it in the actual poem. The possibilities aren’t endless, but there are more than a few.’

One of these paint chips resonated with me this week. Incidentally, the robin we see in the UK is completely different from the American one.

Slow process

A picture I saw on Twitter
Showed some robin’s eggs in a nest
In a hiking boot, but I guessed
That boot’s owner was not sitter-
In-chief. Birds incubate eggs best.

Please click on the link below to see the original tweet, which inspired this poem.

What I read in June 2020 (Part 2)

There are two book reviews in this post.

I won a paperback copy of Breaking the Mould: Learning to thrive as a Ministry Mum by Jules Middleton from the publisher SPCK* on Twitter . I was excited about winning it as I have been following Jules Middleton on social media (including her blog Apples of Gold) since we both reviewed Bible to go! for the Big Bible Project.

Both sentences in Kate Bottley’s endorsement: ‘Will make you laugh and cry along with her. Not just for ministry mums.’ are true. The target readership is women thinking of becoming ministers in any Christian denomination, those training or serving especially mothers, mothers-to-be and those hoping to have a family. Much of the content is also applicable to lay people. Middleton uses innovative analogies to make her points.

Other ministry mums have contributed their own stories to the book, which has an introduction by Sharon Prentis. Some of the contributors were familiar to me from Twitter. They have enhanced the book explaining, for example, how a physical disability or mental health condition is not a barrier to serving in the Church.

I found the explanation of the context and background to the passage about the perfect wife in Proverbs 31:10-31 particularly helpful.

Surprisingly, when I had finished reading it hubby picked it up and is finding it very interesting and readable, proving the point that this is a book which is attractive to a wide readership.

Highly recommended!

The second book was To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf which I read as an e-book from BorrowBox. I had not read any of Virginia Woolf’s writing previously. I did not find the story particularly gripping. It was told in an unusual way, concentrating on the thoughts and feelings of the characters as much if not more than the action. I didn’t find a contents list or a way to flip back to earlier parts of the story, but that might be due to my unfamiliarity with the BorrowBox app.

The first part of the book was a description of life in a large household over about a day. The chapter numbers began again at 1 with a jump forward in time. Some of the insights into character and motivation were interesting, but I won’t be rushing to read everything Woolf wrote. The story was followed by a biography of Woolf, which I might have liked to read first. In a printed book that would have been easy! It took me a long time to finish reading it.

I have been unable to find the cover image used on BorrowBox. It was an edition published by A Word to the Wise. This link is interesting.

My other book reviews may be found from the links  Authors A to M and Authors N to Z.

* not IVP (UK) as I originally stated.