Who better to sponsor our rural landscapes book blog than Gone to Seed – online specialists in dried and gift flowers. Founded by Luke and Elly Collings, whose wedding like so many recently, was rearranged three times.
Finally able to hold a small winter wedding, the couple foraged for flowers and mixed them with dried stems and out of an exasperating situation arose a beautiful wedding and a fantastic new business. The couple are passionate about recycling so sell recycled vases along with their flowers which last several years rather than weeks. A company that cares about our environment and sources local and small farm grown flowers seems like the perfect match for our three books this month.
I actually feel rejuvenated after reading these three book choices this month. Obviously I am passionate about rural writing but I am also a romanticist with a penchant for nostalgia and an enormous love of reading. I am fascinated by the way the second world war changed our world irreparably and these three books cover all this and so much more with beautiful, often lyrical prose. Thank you Rebecca Fletcher (margotgoodlife), you have chosen three more truly wonderful reads. I read all three at breakneck speed, gobbling them up like chocolate eclairs and am now returning for a slower inspection, revelling in the characters, the prose and rural landscapes.
Rural landscape book choices by Rebecca Fletcher
In the right hands, landscape can often become a powerful, additional character within a novel, bringing perspective or revealing secrets about its fellow protagonists. The landscapes featured in this month’s chosen 3 all play their part in bringing a different way of ‘seeing’ as their characters navigate their stories.
‘In the vegetable garden at the back, the snow slides through the rips in the plastic of the polytunnel, chills the onion set four inches underground and shrivels the new shoots of the Swiss chard. Only the head of the last winter cabbage refuses to succumb, the interior leaves curled green and strong, waiting.’
What if the life you’ve always known is taken from you in an instant? What would you do to get it back? Not only shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, Claire Fuller’s Unsettled Ground was crowned winner of the Costa Award’s Novel category this year – it’s a masterpiece of storytelling, exploring life on the fringes of society. Set in a fictional village in the countryside around Wiltshire and North Wessex Downs, it follows twins, Jeanie and Julius, who at the age of 51, still live with their mother Dot in rural isolation and poverty. Making music and the cottage’s garden are sustenance for body and soul. When Dot dies suddenly, a tangled web of secrets is exposed, sending the twins reeling from one catastrophic event to another, threatening their whole way of life and the only sanctuary they have ever known. Unsettled Ground is a moving story of love, loss, betrayal and resilience, woven together with great skill and sumptuously haunting prose.
J L Carr’s magical, modern classic, A Month In The Country
Back from the trenches, damaged survivor Tom Birkin is trained by one of the last remaining medieval mural experts and receives a commission to uncover the fourteenth century painting on a whitewashed wall of a village church in Yorkshire. An outsider, as the landscape seduces and unfolds before him, he is swept along with the steady beat of village life. Now an old man, Tom looks back on that summer of 1920 in Oxgodby, remembering precious fleeting moments and some that might have been – ones he has carried with him through the years.
‘Ah, those days…for many years afterwards their happiness haunted me. Sometimes, listening to music, I drift back and nothing has changed. The long end of summer. Day after day of warm weather, voices calling as night came on and lighted windows pricked the darkness and, at day-break, the murmur of corn and the warm smell of fields ripe for harvest. And being young.’
Connection and finding meaning, hope and restoration, A Month in the Country is a stunning novella about nostalgia, renewal, self-belief and the ephemeral nature of time, written with absolute tenderness.
Our third choice takes us through a landscape of books – a spot of armchair travel. Cathy Rentzenbrink’s Dear Reader – The Comfort and Joy of Books is a poignant, soul-searching journey alongside books and love letter to stories. Essential reading for book lovers but also a real gift for a reluctant reader, Cathy tells how she lost and found herself through stories when all else seemed dark and unbearable. She writes, ‘Reading has saved my life, again and again, and has held my hand through every difficult time..’ Dear Reader shares the tales that kept Cathy afloat – this is memoir at its very best.
Gone To Seed flowers last from 3 years to a lifetime. All the live particles that cause the hay fever will have dried out, so they are safe for all to have inside. Zero maintenance, perfect for dark rooms and rooms that don’t get used often. Their glass vases are 100% recycled glass and their packaging is recycled.
From bouquets to vase ready flowers, from posies to bud vases Gone to Seed have a beautiful range that is better for our planet and a happy burst of floral joy even for a winter wedding! Thank you so much Gone to Seed for sponsoring our Rural Landscapes choice this month.