Friday, 30 April 2010

Nature Cure

This book is not what you think. You think it's about one man's experience finding nature to be the remedy to his depression. In reality, it's more of a coming of age story about a middle-aged man who struggles with depression. It's not exactly a tell-all, though. It's more of a tell-some, hint-some, and some awkward euphemisms.

Richard Mabey relates to the swifts who come back to Britain every year to nest in the roofs and barns. He starts off talking about a baby swift he saw once and flung into the air and off it went. Out of the only house he's ever known, he seems to bounce around from friend to friend for a while--the time line is sketchy--before ending up in a house in Norfolk. There he meets a woman--not yet divorced--and they start a romance. It is really love that gets Mabey out of his depression and he dedicates the book to Polly.

Nature features in this book, but just as clocks would for a clockmaker or bikes for a cyclist. Nature is what he does, what he studies, what he knows and what he thinks about. It's background trying to be foreground for the story he tells. 

It has some lovely moments in it, but it's not his finest moment. While I appreciate that he's writing about a difficult subject, I feel that if he were to do it at all, he really ought to be honest. I suppose, a man with his reputation, he couldn't write a book called Love Cure. He is known for his nature writing.

Rumor has it, though, his collection of essays "A Brush With Nature" is fantastic.


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