I was intrigued by the idea behind this book ‘Learning from the Land’ – as a nature loving full frontal hippy girl, nature and the outdoors means a lot to me on a deep spiritual level. But Vron Ware writes about much more than just nature in Return of a Native, she writes an historical and also personal account using the landscape of the England countryside as the base point, exploring societal issues along the way such as class division and feminism amongst other things.
Not being someone with a strong interest in history, when I first laid my eyes on the back cover of this book which classified it as ‘Cultural Studies/History’ I was a bit resistant, thinking it may be a tough read. At times it was, but I persevered, and the further I read the more I warmed to Vron Ware’s writing. I particularly enjoyed the way she easily fits in personal anecdotes and stories that tie in nicely to the topics she writes about. One of my favourites was her recalling the lead singer of The Troggs – Reg Presley coming to her childhood home to pick up a key to the local village hall when The Troggs would practice, then writing about her experience later in life when she tried to interview him about his roots in terms of coming from Hampshire and his musical influences.
I had not come across Vron Ware before, but after having read this book, and discovering she has written extensively on the subjects of feminism and racism, I am keen to explore her work further.
I recommend this book to those interested in the British countryside and the stories it has to tell us.
Return of a Native – Learning from the Land by Vron Ware is out now, published by Repeater Books
Review by Hayley Foster Da Silva
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