Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Song of the Rolling Earth by John Lister Kaye

This is a wonderful book! It focuses mostly on the author's personal journey towards setting up the Aigas Field Study Centre in the Scottish Highlands and the work that he and his employees have since done at that field study centre.

Lister-Kaye had always been interested in nature but was driven to do more when the Torrey Canyon oil tanker crashed in the Isles of Scilly in 1967. This disaster forced him to rethink what he was doing and he left his job in industry and started out along the road that lead him to the Highlands.

The book is full of wonderful stories of the people and wildlife of the Highlands. It also outlines the environmental history of the area, the disappearance of much of the original forest and the overstocking of land with deer and other game animals. We read about wonderful lochs that have been damaged as wildlife habitats by mismanagement of forestry plantations. This is the point in the book where the reader is forced to consider the complexities of trees in the Highland landscape, I felt this was something that could have been explored with just a little bit more detail in the book.

Not that the book lacks detail! We read in beautifully written and well observed detail about the swifts nesting in the tower, the local crofters (small scale farmers) who work within the natural constraints of the area, the return of ospreys to the area, the volunteers who work at the centre, the realities of Highland winters, an amazing encounter with an otter....

This is a fascinating book for anyone interested in nature, the history of the Scottish Highlands or the complexities of setting up a field studies centre!

Song of the Rolling Earth by John Lister-Kaye, published by Time Warner


I just posted a review on Over Forty Shades that could equally well have been posted here. It's a review of Mark Doty's poetry collection My Alexandria and you can read it here.

6 comments:

Phoenix C. said...

This sounds like a great book! I've just ordered Landscape & Memory from the library, which I'm looking forward to reading.

Caroline Gill said...

I finished this book last night!!!

Such a coincidence I had to post this straight away. Just off now to read your review. There were bits of the book I absolutely loved.

Caroline Gill said...

Yes, it seems we were both captivated by much of the 'wildness awareness'. I particularly liked the boat trip with H. and the descriptions of the very coldest seasons of the year.

On the subject of trees, Juliet, I thought you would find this carefully considered response helpful - geographically more my 'neck of the woods' (sorry!) than yours, but I think well worth reading all the same.

Rabbits' Guy said...

So many books - so little time ...

Elizabeth Rimmer said...

I loved this book, especially the bit about the wrens!

Cathy said...

That book sounds great Juliet. I will try to get a copy to read. It is a wise person who can use a disaster to turn their life into a different and more fulfilling direction.

You make an excellent book reviewer.