Tuesday, May 9, 2017

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros: The Shepherd's Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape

Happy Tuesday to you! I'm taking part in First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea, in which bloggers share a bit about what they're reading or planning to read soon.

On Twitter, I follow James Rebanks (@herdyshepherd1), sheep farmer in the English Lake District. Rebanks gives a fascinating look at sheep farming and the joys and challenges of this disappearing way of life. He posts fantastic photos and videos of his farm and the sheep. It was only a matter of time before I had to buy Rebanks' New York Times bestselling memoir, The Shepherd's Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape.

From the back cover:

"Some people's lives are entirely their own creations. James Rebanks' isn't. In evocative and lucid prose, Rebanks takes us through a shepherd's year, offering a unique account of rural life and a fundamental connection with the land that most of us have lost. It is a story of working lives, the people around him, his childhood, his parents and grandparents, a people who exist and endure even as the culture--of the English Lake District, and of farming--changes around them. Many memoirs are of people working desperately hard to leave a place. This is the story of someone trying desperately hard to stay."

The opening:

"I realized we were different, really different, on a rainy morning in 1987. I was in an assembly at the 1960s shoddy built concrete comprehensive school in our local town. I was thirteen or so years old. Sitting surrounded by a mass of other academic non-achievers listening to an old battle-weary teacher lecturing us how we should aim to be more than just farm workers, joiners, brickies, electricians, and hairdressers. We were basically sorted aged twelve between those deemed intelligent (who were sent to a 'grammar school') and those of use that weren't (who stayed at the 'comprehensive'). Her words flowed past us without registering, a sermon she'd delivered many times before. It was a waste of time and she knew it. We were firmly set, like our fathers and grandfathers, mothers and grandmothers before us, on being what we were, and had always been. Plenty of us were bright enough, but we had no intention of displaying it in school. It would have been dangerous."

What do you think? Would you keep reading?


  1. There is something so peaceful about a herd of sheep, and tending them must feel very satisfying for those with the inclination. Thanks for sharing, and here's mine: “NOT A SOUND”

  2. I'm intrigued--it brings up memories of trips I've taken through the Irish countryside.

  3. It sounds like a lovely place to be for hours at a time. Yes, I'd keep reading.

  4. This sounds different to me but, I think I might enjoy it.

  5. Although I don't know this book I know the story well. Hill farmers in the Yorkshire Dales that I know work hard to maintain the land that has been passed down from father to son. Good friends of ours have had to stop farming this year due to ill health. Their farm is not large enough to support their two sons, who have made careers elsewhere. Our friends are left feeling a great sense of loss and also guilt that the stock is gone and the land will be swallowed up by someone else to make a larger, more economically viable business. I think this book might sadden me too much to read. (Or is it a hopeful ending?!)
    Miss Cellany.