22 April 2010

Book Review: Walks in the Wheatfields by Richard Jeffries

Walks in the Wheatfields
Richard Jeffries

These is the ninth of 20 volumes of the Penguin English Journeys series. I plan to read all 20 in the month of April.

This book was definitely more enjoyable than some of the earlier volumes that led to my Penguin English Journey breakdown earlier this week. Richard Jeffries, a writer and the son of a Wiltshire farmer, wrote about his experiences traveling the English countryside until his tragic death from tuberculosis in 1887 at the age of 39.

I liked the book most when Jeffries describes his observations of wildlife. His chapter on the daily habits of the large flocks of rooks in his area I found fascinating. The quantities of birds he describes reminds me of the setting that William Cronon describes in his book Changes in the Land, a wonderful academic look at the changes in the ecology of Colonial New England.

It was also humorous to read Jeffries rant about the visual ugliness that church spires inflict on the natural landscape. From a 21st century perspective of course, those spires are seen by many of us to be part and parcel of the pastoral landscape and quite pretty. But then again we have a lot uglier things that blot the landscape to worry about.

If this review seems shallow, it's because it is. In the realm of the Penguin English Journey series, this one leans to the enjoyable, but not so enjoyable that I feel the need to tax my brain too much in writing an adequate review.

4 comments:

  1. Although there are some gems in this series, I do feel the most attractive thing about it is the look of those slim uniform volumes!

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  2. I think I might like this book, as I'm fond of reading about nature.

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  3. Rambling Fancy: Of course visual aesthetics is what prompted me to buy them in the first place.

    Call Me Madam: I am not familiar with Bevis.

    Jeane: You might the second volume "The Wood" even more.

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