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Next to Nature: A Lifetime in the English Countryside

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a work to amble through, seasonally, relishing the vivid dashes of colour and the precision and delicacy of the descriptions' THE SPECTATOR'My favourite read of the 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. Slightly Foxed introduces its readers to books that are no longer new and fashionable but have lasting appeal. 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 . John Clare covertly reading in a field crops up more than once, as also Jesus' epitaph for John the Baptist; a little repetition is perhaps inevitable given the structure of the book, though I suspect not solely because of that, given Blythe's occasional admission of parishioners catching him out.

He brings us to his local parish churches as he preaches, reads Scripture, and sings, whether the organist has shown up or not. I got “Next to Nature” for Christmas 2022 and started reading through its monthly collections of essays in January. I was rather taken in by a glowing review in The Guardian by Patrick Barkham, whom I rate very highly, and the involvement of Richard Mabey.There are some lovely passages and overall Ronald Blythe is an immense figure in his field but this is best reserved for those who share his Christian ways as first and foremost this is a book about his day to day religious thoughts. From here, 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. As this is a compendium of Blythe's writing, I'm afraid I was a little lost with who people were, but I'm sure more avid fans will be very familiar with who's who. 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 . From here, Blythe 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.

For more details, please consult the latest information provided by Royal Mail's International Incident Bulletin. 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.To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average.

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 .Hope this book reaches a much wider audience than just readers who might remember Akenfield and those of us who immediately turned to the Word from Wormingford column when the Church Times landed on the door mat. Blythe is of course best known for Akenfield, his oral history of a small Suffolk community, and, as someone as deeply rooted in just such a community as Blythe was, the pieces gathered together in Next to Nature have a remarkable immediacy and honesty of experience and expression.

Blythe's observations of nature are as unforced as breathing, and his descriptions are precise, celebratory and unexpected . To become a subscriber to Slightly Foxed: The Real Reader’s Quarterly Magazine, please visit our subscriptions page.

an expansive exploration of how land­scapes, humans, and words interact, touched with great humanity. Still, he seems to have been regarded with enormous fondness, each month introduced by a famous friend of 'Ronnie', ranging from Rob Macfarlane through Rowan Williams to Maggi Hambling. Yes, among other things, it’s a paean to the quiet, diffused but real religion of rural life; but, that itself is inextricably linked with observation of life through the seasons (and, as Muslims continually point out, if more Christians actually “lived” their religion there would be wider ground for mutual respect and dialogue. He was a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and was awarded their prestigious Benson Medal in 2006.

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