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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Reading books on my Kindle app

An author I know advertised a special offer for one of her books on Twitter.  I decided to read it and to purchase two other books, which I have been intending to read.

I read “A Yorkshire Christmas” by Kate Hewitt in a single sitting.  The characters were believable and the plot well-constructed.  There was plenty of conflict and suspense.  It is a contemporary romance (con rom), although at one point I wondered if it was about to become a tragedy.  The book seems to be aimed at readers in North America.  As a British reader I found that one or two passages of conversation jarred slightly.  (Unless I am completely behind the times with trends in language, someone in England would ‘go and draw’, rather than ‘go draw’ as Molly did in Chapter 7.)

People in rural Yorkshire speak a dialect of their own.  I wondered how well the book would have worked, had this been used by one of the characters.  I think it was in her book A Woman of Substance, that Barbara Taylor Bradford wrote a whole section in dialect.  Not everyone was able to decipher it, so there are merits in using more standard language particularly for an overseas readership.

Even without dialect the characters in “A Yorkshire Christmas” have some difficulty in communication due to their different cultures.  This is interesting and helpful to readers unaware of the differences in vocabulary across the Atlantic.  Being fascinated by words, I enjoyed this aspect of the book, which lends authenticity and interest to the story.

It is a good read involving the emotions as well as the mind.

Kate Hewitt also writes as Katharine Swartz with books including, The Vicar’s Wife, which I enjoyed reading in paperback immediately after publication.

The other books I downloaded are “Fisherground: Living the dream” by Ian Hall and Finding the Way through Water by Roland K Price.  These are both authors with whom I have a very tenuous connection.

Watch this space!