What da cover says: John Lister-Kaye has spent a lifetime exploring, protecting and celebrating the British landscape and its creatures. His memoir The Dun Cow Rib is the story of a boy’s awakening to the wonders of the natural world. Lister-Kaye’s joyous childhood holidays – spent scrambling through hedges and ditches after birds and small beasts, keeping pigeons in the loft and tracking foxes around the edge of the garden – were the perfect apprenticeship for his two lifelong passions: exploring the wonders of nature, and writing about them. Threaded through his adventures – from moving to the Scottish Highlands to work with Gavin Maxwell, to founding the famous Aigas Field Centre – is an elegy to his remarkable mother, and a wise and affectionate celebration of Britain’s natural landscape.
What I says: This is easily the best non-fiction book I’ve read in 2017, I can’t believe it could be surpassed. When a truly talented writer decides to write their childhood memoirs this is the book you end up with. I’m not a fan of memoirs but I a massive fan of nature and books that have been written about it, when I saw one of the big names had written about his childhood and how he became obsessed with nature I just had to read it. I was not expecting it to hit me as hard as it did emotionally, I became so engrossed I think for a while I lost track of reality, each hardship got me down, each uplifting moment had me grinning like an idiot and each death left me feeling hollow. I was on the edge of my seat reading about his antics as a kid at boarding school, the scene with peacock feathers was pure class.
The book takes us through the first 20 years of John’s life, I found it interesting to read about the events that shaped his from finding a dead dog, running wild exploring the woods, having near misses with foxes and his experiences at school. And then once he finishes school his career takes a change, an amazing chance meeting with Terry Nutkins leads him to then meeting with Gavin Maxwell (The Ring of Bright Water chap) and the rest as they say is history. Terry Nutkins was my hero when I was a kid, I find it amazing that John had him as a roommate. Brilliant.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I highly recommend this, even if you haven’t read any of his work before.