Gavin F (gavluvsga) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Gavin F

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Book #64: A Good Parcel of English Soil by Richard Mabey

Number of pages: 96

According to the back cover, this book addresses the notion: “That nature’s canniness will always trump techno hubris”, and throughout you can tell that writer Richard Mabey has a keen interest in naturalism.

This book centres largely around London’s Metropolitan Railway and talks about how it was intitially constructed, and how it connected the urban centre of London with the suburbs and surrounding countryside. The historical stuff is fascinating, and I got the sense that this book was well-researched.

The second half of this book is largely about the subject of nature, and particularly about Mabey’s own experiences growing up living in the countryside; I particularly enjoyed the vivid depiction of an incident where he and his friends had to be rescued from sinking into mud. Along with a brief commentary on the planned High Speed 2 rail line, this turns into an essay on nature the impact that urbanisation has on it.

I loved the way that the writer uses language throughout the book, and he seems to have quite a way with words (talking about the railway coming to “a ceremonious full stop against a set of buffers”), and there is a very upbeat feel to it.

Overall, this was an enjoyable book, and it didn’t just feel like something for the naturalists or the hippies.

Next book: Thief of Time (Terry Pratchett)
Tags: book review, british, essays, nature, non-fiction

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