Pastoral Song: Book summary and reviews of Pastoral Song by James Rebanks

Pastoral Song

A Farmer's Journey

by James Rebanks

Pastoral Song by James Rebanks X
Pastoral Song by James Rebanks
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  • Published Aug 2021
    304 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

The New York Times bestselling author of The Shepherd's Life chronicles his family's farm in England's Lake District across three generations, revealing through this intimate lens the profound global transformation of agriculture and of the human relationship to the land.

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 recognizable. 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.

Hailed as "a brilliant, beautiful book" by the Sunday Times (London), Pastoral Song (published in the United Kingdom under the title 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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A beautifully written elegy to traditional farmers and farming methods...A lovely cautionary tale filled with pride, hope, and respect for the land and its history." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"[A] lyrical ode to traditional farming...Shot through with lyrical prose and intimate family memories, this is an immersive and stimulating call for change." - Publishers Weekly

"Remarkable…A brilliant, beautiful book…Eloquent, persuasive and electric with the urgency that comes out of love." - Sunday Times (UK)

"This elegy that captures the soul of British farming – its families and their land from which they are indivisible…Rebanks's observations are rich with detail. He writes with a simplicity that hides his scholarship (how many Cumbrian farmers can quote from Virgil's Georgics?) and some passages are right up there with Laurie Lee's Cider with Rosie…This is a wonderful book. James Rebanks writes with his heart and his heart is in the right place. We should listen to him." - Telegraph (UK)

"He is eloquent — scenes of mud and guts are interspersed with quotes ranging from Virgil to Schumpeter, Rachel Carson to Wendell Berry…[Pastoral Song] builds into a heartfelt elegy for all that has been lost from our landscape, and a rousing disquisition on what could be regained — a rallying cry for a better future." - Financial Times (UK)

"Rebanks is a deeply gifted student learning from Mother Nature and generations of farmers before him. His wonderful and timely book is an account of one farmer's lifelong effort to do right by his family, his land, his animals and his ecosystem. Like Wendell Berry, he reminds us where to find the good work that needs doing." - Nick Offerman

"[Pastoral Song] is a work of art. It is nourishing and grounding to read when the world around us is so full of fear. This brave and beautiful book will shape hearts and minds." - Jane Clarke, author of When the Tree Falls

"James Rebanks describes the life of a Lakeland working farmer from the inside with an unrivalled truth and eloquence." - Tom Fort, author of Casting Shadows

This information about Pastoral Song was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

James Rebanks

James Rebanks runs a family-owned farm in the Lake District in northern England. A graduate of Oxford University, James works as an expert advisor to UNESCO on sustainable tourism. He uses his popular Twitter feed - @herdyshepherd1 - to share updates on the shepherding year. He is the author of The Shepherd's Life and Pastoral Song.

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