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The Consolation of Nature

On sale

15th October 2020

Price: £14.99

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Selected: ebook / ISBN-13: 9781529349160

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‘Lovely: full of fascinating detail and anecdote, but the undertow of the virus moving in real time beneath its sunlit surface gives it a unique emotional heft.’
The Times

‘A literary window into the wonderful wild world during lockdown… a charming book.’
Daily Mail

‘An entrancing testament to nature’s power to restore us to ourselves.’
-Ruth Padel

Nature took on a new importance for many people when the coronavirus pandemic arrived, providing solace in a time of great anxiety – not least because the crisis struck at the beginning of spring, the season of light, growth, rebirth and renewal.

Three writers, close friends but living in widely separated, contrasting parts of the country, resolved to record their experiences of this extraordinary spring in intimate detail, to share with others their sense of the wonder, inspiration and delight the natural world can offer.

The Consolation of Nature is the story of what they discovered by literally walking out from their front doors.


Mark Avery
They all write superbly and their styles and perspectives are sufficiently different to add variety to the passage... but not so different that any grates with the others. It is so beautifully written
Martin Harper, Global Conservation Director RSPB
As expected from these three authors, it is beautifully written, but it is also extremely evocative.
Isabella Tree
What joy - three of our greatest nature writers in one book! What they felt under lockdown is surely what we all felt, that primal need to be out in nature - balm for body and soul. There's acute and beautiful observation on every page, thrown into exquisite relief by the poignancy of the circumstances. Against the backdrop of anxiety and doubt, their experiences bear witness to the inspiring and ever-hopeful lesson that nature can heal itself - and us - if we let it.
Caroline Lucas MP
A powerful and moving reflection on the solace brought by nature and its power as a balm for stressed-out lives
Ruth Padel
The book is an entrancing testament to nature's power to restore us to ourselves. To read it is to open your eyes to everything around you, from an egg-laying butterfly to the value of cowpats. In the company of three generous naturalists, you wander down a Lovers' Lane of close observation plus humane imagination, into the tangled bank of wild and hidden life that still goes on, despite all we have done to it, in our countryside and parks. The Consolation of Nature is a consolation in itself.
Mark Cocker
These three distinguished writers are all steeped in the natural world, yet each is of highly individual sensibility and comes from a very distinct part of the country. For all the differences between them, they have produced a book of fundamental unity with a singular conclusion: that coronavirus and all its consequences reveal the central importance of nature to the British as a nation and to humans as a species. Their message could not be more timely.
Matthew Oates
Probably the best tribute to spring since Edward Thomas's In Pursuit of Spring... A spell-binding paean to the best and worst spring ever which shows how deeply Nature absorbs, stimulates and nurtures us.
Professor Tim Birkhead, FRS
The Consolation of Nature is as scintillating, perceptive and every bit as readable as Gibert White's Selborne
Richard Fortey, FRS
I was entranced by the close observations of wildlife by three eloquent and experienced naturalists during the 'lockdown year', proof, if any were needed, that nature provides succour when it is most required
Melissa Harrison, The Times
As our lives constrict again, the long spring lockdown already seems a lifetime ago. But that beautiful and frightening time has been perfectly captured in The Consolation of Nature by the naturalists Michael McCarthy, Jeremy Mynott and Peter Marren. Each reports from their home patches - Richmond, West Suffolk and North Wessex, respectively - to describe the progress of a record-breakingly sunny spring as human activity slowed and stilled. As a set of nature diaries it's lovely: full of fascinating detail and anecdote. But the undertow of the virus moving in real time beneath its sunlit surface gives it a unique emotional heft. When we emerge from this crisis our relationship with the natural world must change. This book surely is a record of the beginnings of that shift.
Stephen Moss, 2020 Round-up of Nature Books
Credit to three of our most distinguished nature writers...This is an entertaining and insightful diary of lockdown, which really manages to capture the essence of the unique spring of 2020
Adam gretton, The Harrier
A significant and beautifully written historical record of a unique English spring
Mary Colwell-Hector
The joy of The Consolation of Nature is the privileged glimpse into the minds of really good naturalists - and they are admirably good. There is much written about nature and about its importance to humanity, and no lack of earnest rhetoric, but to see into the intimate and personal chambers of the minds of people who love nature, who live and breathe it, who cherish it and who find it an endless source of wonder, this is the delight of this book. There are no great messages, no edicts, no cajoling of our consciences, this is simply the everyday joy that the natural world provides at a time when we need it the most. I loved savouring it, small sections at a time, the reading equivalent of a slice of cake with tea - something to look forward to and enjoy for no other reason than it is a treat. That is not to say it is without wisdom, there is so much understated wisdom on every page, but it is for the reader to find and absorb for themselves and to ponder in a gentle way, like turning over a leaf and finding butterfly eggs, or suddenly spotting a buzzard high over London. J B Haldane was right when he said the world will not perish for lack of wonders but lack of wonder. This is a book that infuses the reader with wonder on every page.
Daily Mail
A literary window into the wonderful wild world during lockdown...a charming book