Gossip from the Forest
Fairytales are one of our earliest and most vital cultural forms, and forests one of our most ancient and primal landscapes . Both evoke a similar sensation in us - we find them beautiful and magical, but also spooky, sometimes horrifying. In this fascinating book, Maitland argues that the two forms are intimately connected: the mysterious secrets and silences, gifts and perils of the forests were both the background and the source of fairytales. Yet both forests and fairy stories are at risk and their loss deprives us of our cultural life blood. Maitland visits forests through the seasons, from the exquisite green of a beechwood in spring, to the muffled stillness of a snowy pine wood in winter. She teaches us with the lightest of touches about the management and complex history of forests and woodland, and about the origins and subsequent fate of fairytales.We learn both how the themes of the fairy stories grow out of the reality of the forest, and how people see the forests in a particular way because of the fairy stories. This is a more gregarious book than A Book of Silence. Maitland camps with her son Adam, whose beautiful photographs are included in the book, she takes a barefoot walk through Epping Forest with Robert Macfarlane, she walks with a mushroom expert through an oak wood, and with a miner through the Forest of Dean. And though rich and profound in content, it's a less grave book than Silence, more mischievous and playful, but written with Sara's usual wonderful clarity and conversational grace. As a fiction writer, Maitland has frequently retold fairy stories, and she ends each chapter with a re-told fairy story.Gossip from the Forest is a magical and unique blend of nature writing, history and imaginative fiction.
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