My Friday Post: English Pastoral: An Inheritance by James Rebanks

Every Friday Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader where you can share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

I’ve just finished reading English Pastoral: an Inheritance by James Rebanks.

The black-headed gulls follow in our wake as if we are a little fishing boat out at sea. The sky is full of winged silhouettes and screaming beaks, and streaks of white seagull shit splatter like milk down on to the soil. I am riding in the tractor, crammed in behind my grandfather.

Also every Friday there is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice.

These are the rules:

  1. Grab a book, any book.
  2. Turn to page 56, or 56% on your eReader. If you have to improvise, that is okay.
  3. Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
  4. Post it.
  5. Add the URL to your post in the link on Freda’s most recent Friday 56 post.

About the book:

As a boy, James Rebanks’s grandfather taught him to work the land the old way. Their family farm in the Lake District hills was part of an ancient agricultural landscape: a patchwork of crops and meadows, of pastures grazed with livestock, and hedgerows teeming with wildlife. And yet, by the time James inherited the farm, it was barely recognisable. The men and women had vanished from the fields; the old stone barns had crumbled; the skies had emptied of birds and their wind-blown song.

English Pastoral is the story of an inheritance: one that affects us all. It tells of how rural landscapes around the world were brought close to collapse, and the age-old rhythms of work, weather, community and wild things were lost. And yet this elegy from the northern fells is also a song of hope: of how, guided by the past, one farmer began to salvage a tiny corner of England that was now his, doing his best to restore the life that had vanished and to leave a legacy for the future.

This is a book about what it means to have love and pride in a place, and how, against all the odds, it may still be possible to build a new pastoral: not a utopia, but somewhere decent for us all.

I loved it and will write more about it later.

16 thoughts on “My Friday Post: English Pastoral: An Inheritance by James Rebanks”

  1. This sounds like a lovely read, Margaret. There’s definitely something about working the land, isn’t there? Our connection with it is an important part of our makeup, I think.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It makes me so happy to hear of land still be used in a way that it always has been instead of buildings or tarred roads or parking lots. Once it is gone, that’s it. I so admire this man and will look for the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really like the cover, and the book is a part memoir of his farming childhood with quotes ranging from Virgil to Schumpeter, Rachel Carson to Wendell Berry, recounting what has gone wrong and ideas of what can be done to put things right.


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