This is a companion book to Roy Dennis’s acclaimed Cottongrass Summer (reviewed here) which came out last year. It is another series of essays and they are wonderful. They certainly don’t feel, even remotely, like the ones that didn’t make it into the first volume. The standard is very high and I’ve read most of them, despite this book only arriving with me earlier this week.
I could just repeat everything I said about the earlier volume here, because it all applies again. In this volume, I particularly enjoyed and was stimulated by … actually I can’t choose, they are all very good, whether they be set in this country or (just a few) about Roy’s observations and thoughts when travelling the world, and the essays that reach back to his Fair Isle days of the 1960s are just as interesting as those fully grounded in the present. OK, I thought the book ended very strongly with essays on an old Knot, the plight of Capercaillies and the importance of fruit trees. But then, I enjoyed reading about California Condors, partly because I have stood in several places mentioned here, and I was very interested in the ideas about translocating Mountain Hares.
There are some classic Roy-isms in here, like the statement that we don’t have time for research we need action, which I’m pretty sure I heard Roy say over 35 years ago – and often he was completely right (but a few times rather wrong). I think there are a few more personal views in here, such as Roy’s views on the ages at which people should and shouldn’t have the vote. I tend to agree with him but it would be a shame if Roy himself were to be disenfranchised on age grounds. I didn’t spot any mistakes except a strange geographical error in the last paragraph of page 64 that made me wonder whether this book had been handwritten by the author and then transcribed and everyone missed the misreading – when you get to that page, see what you think.
Cottongrass Summer was my joint book of the year last year – there is every reason to expect that this volume will be up there jostling for first place this year. On which subject, my books of the year will be unveiled on Sunday 28 November in order to inform your Christmas present list.
The cover? Not as nice as Cottongrass Summer‘s cover but a perfectly OK one – I’d give it 7/10.
Mistletoe Winter by Roy Dennis is published by Saraband.
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