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Next to Nature: A Lifetime in the English Countryside

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I’ve been reading this over Christmas along with Guy Shrubsole’s brilliant new The Lost Rainforests of Britain, and I’ve enjoyed every moment. A nature diary, a reflection on changing rural life over the period from the Second World War, and a commentary on a deeply dedicated man of the church.

I cannot fault the quality of the writing, but the endless references to the Bible, sermons and church life generally, although they may form a huge part of Blythe's life today, have very little to do with the dramatic change we have seen in the countryside, even since Akenfield. We are experiencing delays with deliveries to many countries, but in most cases local services have now resumed. These cookies help provide information on metrics the number of visitors, bounce rate, traffic source, etc. a modern Hazlitt -- MARK COCKER The finest rural historian of our times * Country Life * It would be difficult to find . There is, for example, the quotation from "Wuthering Heights":: "Hearing a climbing rose scratch against the window like Catherine Earnshaw's escape-me-never hand" - all very clever and cultured, but such endless quotations become very annoying, destroying the flow of the narrative.His] minute observation of places, people and plants, his ear for scraps of dialogue and his feeling for poetry and painting make everything about those days immediate . We use Google Analytics to see what pages are most visited, and where in the world visitors are visiting from.

From here, Ronald Blythe has spent almost half a century observing the slow turn of the agricultural year, the church year and village life in a series of rich, lyrical rural diaries. Slightly Foxed brings back forgotten voices through its Slightly Foxed and Plain Foxed Editions, a series of beautifully produced little pocket hardback reissues of classic memoirs, all of them absorbing and highly individual.Poignantly, he turned 100 in November 2022 and died just two months later, so this book and my careful reading of it through the year are both tributes to his long and faithful life, much of it lived in an old farmhouse in Suffolk. And no wonder, when he seems such wise and genial company, one of those rare souls who understands that "it takes an age to create one's own peerless dust and muddle. He makes the authors he loves feel like friends full of wisdom and warmth, kindred spirits through their words.

We should be grateful to have him and his beautiful pages, and for the privilege of spending so many ordinary and yet rare and precious days in his company -- SUSAN HILL * Telegraph 5* review * A capacious book that contains multitudes . a sensibility which is richer or better fed, more deeply watered and manured, more drenched in Englishness -- ADAM NICOLSON [His] minute observation of places, people and plants, his ear for scraps of dialogue and his feeling for poetry and painting make everything about those days immediate . This was a 2022 Christmas present, signed by the centenarian author, now no longer with us, alas, having died in January of this year. Next to Nature is a hoard of observation, gossip and stories designed to take you through the year, with something rich and strange on every page -- Hilary Spurling * The Spectator, Books of the Year 2022 * [Ronald Blythe] is an English institution . It is accepted by you that Daunt Books has no control over additional charges in relation to customs clearance.All the charm, wonder, eccentricity and vigour of country life is here in these pages, and told with such engaging directness, detail and colour. This book was with me for most of the year that's passed, and I know I'm going to miss those safe and reassuring words of his which may be worth a revisit sometime. These times are so worrying with such terrible suffering and poverty,we pray and hope for better times but this book is a wonderful read. However these are minor irritations and do not detract too much from what are very rich and perceptive insights. He is our tribal storyteller, plugged into a common stream of inquisitive conversation that joins us as a species -- RICHARD MABEY One of the great prose stylists on the twentieth century .

an expansive exploration of how land­scapes, humans, and words interact, touched with great humanity. To immerse yourself in this East Anglian year is be reminded of why we love and value the rhythms and realities of rural life. In these troubled times it is good to read about the joys of nature and tied in with the Anglican faith Ronald Blythe will be sadly missed by his readers since his passing , he contributed much in his writing living a simple down to earth life and appreciating nature. I decided to read each month’s entries at the beginning of each month of 2023, which has undoubtedly been the best approach as it has made this wonderful book last a whole year. Beginning with the arrival of snow on New Year's Day and ending with Christmas carols sung in the village church, Next to Nature invites us to witness a simple life richly lived.And thus does Ronnie himself become the same as his beloved George Herbert and Thomas Hardy: a companion through the tragedy and beauty of human life and a witness to a world charged with the grandeur of God. Blythe's observations of nature are as unforced as breathing, and his descriptions are precise, celebratory and unexpected . Being with Ronnie Blythe in one of his books is like being on a magic carpet, the exhilaration of being alive, and of nature, and the world -- Ian Collins * Today Programme * Next to Nature is the perfect memorial, a latter-day Book of Hours . I started this in March, and was playing catch-up until October, but really it would have worked much better read month by month; it's only a shame that there isn't quite an entry per day. He brings us to his local parish churches as he preaches, reads Scripture, and sings, whether the organist has shown up or not.

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