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Richard Mabey

Nature Cure

In 1999 Richard Mabey developed a severe depression. He found it difficult to work, and had to leave the house he had lived in since his childhood. Nature Cure tells of how his friends helped him, giving him a room in a remote part of East Anglia, where he gradually regained his love of life and the natural world.

This is not a 'back to nature' book though, since Mabey, author of plenty of books on natural history and life in the countryside, had never left it. Rather it's a story of how he fared when transplanted from a life which had become too comfortable to one in which he had to start anew, exploring the countryside around him in a fresh light. Mabey has plenty to say on how our society interacts with nature, highlighting the contradiction between trying to protect the natural world, and having somewhere which we can think of as wilderness, untouched by human hand. I felt he was rather overly critical sometimes, as if to say that although he couldn't solve this conundrum, everyone else should be able to. But mostly the book shows his new appreciation of the livng things which surround him. The combination of nature notes and the story of his cure works well, adding interest for those readers who might not want to read about either topic on its own. I'd recommend the book to anyone who wants a relaxing read which also gives new insights into our relationship with nature.

Amazon.com info
Hardcover 242 pages  
ISBN: 0813926211
Salesrank: 1251477
Weight:1 lbs
Published: 2007 University of Virginia Press
Amazon price $29.95
Marketplace:New from $21.21:Used from $15.17
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Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 240 pages  
ISBN: 1844130967
Salesrank: 960753
Weight:0.4 lbs
Published: 2006 Pimlico
Marketplace:New from £5.14:Used from £0.01
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Amazon.ca info
Paperback 224 pages  
ISBN: 1844130967
Salesrank: 2121781
Weight:0.4 lbs
Published: 2006 Pimlico
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 16.22:Used from CDN$ 2.79
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Product Description

Early in Nature Cure Richard Mabey returns continually to the swift, who in its spectacular migration may not touch down for well over a year. In Ted Hughes’s phrase, the reappearance of the swifts tells us that "the globe’s still working." When we encounter the author in the opening pages of this powerful memoir, his corner of the globe is decidedly not working. A deep depression has left him alienated from his work and his family, financially insecure, and has cost him the Chiltern home in which he has lived his entire life. The open flatlands of his new home in East Anglia--an area now dominated by agriculture, and once so desolate that it harbored an inland lighthouse--could not be more different from the dense Chiltern woods he is leaving behind. Mabey wonders frankly if this move is a crucial part of his becoming, finally, a true adult, or if it is just the latest step in the wrong direction his life has mysteriously taken.

Mabey fears that he, like the swift, may be too specialized--given to an intensely specific way of life which, when threatened, leaves him with nowhere to turn. A life spent observing nature has taught him that any creature, even an entire species, might be made suddenly obsolete by the shifts of the world. Just how adaptable is he? He leaves the Chilterns with a near-complete set of the works of John Clare and an antique microscope, but without a frying pan. From now on he will have to think about a complete life, not just those bases he touched as a writer following his calling.

It is through this escape to another life, this "flitting," that his healing begins, in often unexpected ways. Mabey’s despair stems from an inability to connect with his writing and with the nature that inspires it; the book’s power lies in the way he relates this distance from nature to a larger problem in modern life--and in the remarkable process by which his reengagement with nature leads Mabey out of his depression and back to passion and wonder.