- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday Canada; First Edition edition (April 7, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385682840
- ISBN-13: 978-0385682848
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 73 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,108,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Shepherd's Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape Hardcover – International Edition, April 7, 2015
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#1 National Bestseller
#1 International Bestseller
A New York Times Top Book of 2015
A Guardian Best Book of the Year
A Telegraph Best Book of 2015
A Daily Express Best Book of 2015
Shortlisted for the Portico Literature Prize
Shortlisted for the Waterstones Book of the Year Award
Shortlisted for the 2016 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize
Shortlisted for the 2016 Wainwright Prize
"James Rebanks' The Shepherd's Life has been the surprise literary success. . . . His prose is eloquent and evocative, and possesses that priceless commodity: authenticity. . . . His success is undeniably romantic, and all the better for it." —The Guardian (UK)
"[A] captivating book . . . a keenly observed account of the vocation handed down to Mr. Rebanks from his father and grandfather and their ancestors before them, and the seasonal rhythms and rituals that define life on a farm." —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times Book Review
"I never imagined I'd be absorbed by a book about sheep. But James Rebanks's unsentimental, sharply detailed memoir about his life as a shepherd in England's Lake District gripped me from the first page. . . . such a fine writer." ―The Wall Street Journal
“James Rebanks’s captivating new book about his family’s small sheep farm in England is also a book about continuity and roots and a sense of belonging in an age that’s increasingly about mobility and self-invention… Expertise — and explanations of the craft and clockwork behind the ticktock of a profession — is hugely compelling when described with ardor and élan, and Mr. Rebanks brings both to his account.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“This wonderful book … Rebanks’s fascinating account of a year in his sheep-herding life”
“An enlightening, exquisitely written account … I was beguiled by this book, an eloquent love-letter to a cherished way of life”
―Daily Mail (UK)
“It is a gorgeous book, unsentimental but exultant, vivid and profound…”
“A powerful - and quietly electrifying - meditation... Page by page, he builds what amounts to a 21st-century pastoral manifesto. The book is an unsentimental education, part history of farming in the Lake District, part personal memoir. And yet it still soars... Rebanks's prose is beautifully sure-footed. “
―The Sunday Times (UK)
“Rebanks offers a fascinating account of his life in farming that is in equal parts memoir, social commentary and procedural. Even for the most committed urbanite, it’s a brilliant read.”
―The Observer (UK)
“A remarkable achievement... Utterly unsentimental, The Shepherd's Life is, nevertheless, profoundly moving.”
―Financial Times (UK)
“Rebanks's enthusiasm and talent for poetic writing is infectious... [His] words create not only a gorgeous landscape painting of the Lake District and its inhabitants, human, animal, bird and fish, but also a useful social document... What is most striking about this book is its authenticity; this is the real thing.”
―The Times (UK)
“Engrossing tale of life on a Cumbrian fell farm … A passionate plea about a way of life that has existed for centuries but is often invisible to the day-trippers … Beautifully written. Rebanks brings out the dignity in simple honest hard work which isn’t always valued in our society.”
―Pick of the Week, BBC Radio 4
"Exceptional... Rebanks's way with words is akin to that of that of an expert shearer with the clippers - swift, deft, skilled - and the resulting prose is lean, vivid, tough and handsome. I loved his book. It is one to restore faith in writing and the business of publishing - a story not like any other, told from the inside by someone whose passion for his subject lights up almost every sentence"
―Literary Review (UK).
“A powerful first book. . . . compelling. . . . The Shepherd’s Life is an unforgettable survivor’s book that raises important questions. . . . It is also one of the most truthful depictions of contemporary rural life that I have read.”
—The Independent (UK)
"Beautifully written.” ―Alan Cumming, actor, author of Not My Father’s Son.
“A timely and important book, with flashes of beauty in its spare and honest prose.”
—Sadie Jones, author of The Uninvited Guests.
“Bloody marvelous.” ―Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk.
“A vivid, honest, unforgettably written account not just of one shepherd's year, but of an ancient way of life.”
—Lucy Dillon, author of A Hundred Pieces of Me
“In James Rebanks we hear a new voice from the fells. The toil and the beauty in The Shepherd's Life are utterly compelling.”
—Nicholas Crane, author of Great British Journeys
“An absorbing, often funny, and beautifully written evocation of the landscape that is so much a part of Rebanks’s life and who he is. It’s also a different Lake District to that of Wordsworth and Wainwright – and a testament to the importance of maintaining a connection to the land.”
—The Observer Food Monthly (UK)
“May well do for sheep what Helen Macdonald did for hawks.”
— Stephen Moss, Guardian
“The Shepherd’s Life transports readers to an ageless world of honest relationships between farmers, their animals and the land. In this delightful memoir, James Rebanks tells a story steeped in centuries of tradition and reminds us that the authentic life that many of our parents and grandparents left behind is still possible.”
—Andrew Peacock, author of Creatures of the Rock, A Veterinarian's Adventures In Newfoundland.
“The Shepherd’s Life is a reader’s delight. No tourist wandering the iconic Lake District is Rebanks; coming from centuries of farmers he is as ‘hefted’ to the fells as the Herdwick sheep he keeps. He lives, breathes and works his landscape -- which gives him an inside edge as sharp as shears over most of the flock of current countryside-writers. Rebanks has written a marvelous autobiography –of himself, his family, and the hills themselves. For they are indivisible.”
—John Lewis-Stempel, author of Meadowland
“Affectionate, evocative, illuminating. A story of survival - of a flock, a landscape and a disappearing way of life. I love this book.”
—Nigel Slater, author of “Toast: The Story of a Boy's Hunger”.
"All this is told with perfect pitch, in prose that flows as easily as speech, cleaves hungrily to the particular, and shifts without strain between the workaday and the imaginative."
—The Guardian (UK)
“As moving, truthful, and at times as poetic as anything you’re likely to read … satisfying on every level.”—Seattle Times
"The writing itself is exceptional, wonderfully descriptive but also at times blunt and tough and the book is a fierce defence of small-scale farming. This is in no way the musings of a dreamy environmentalist nor is it some sort of sentimental memoir. Rebanks tells it like it is." —Irish Independent (Ireland)
“This outstanding debut… exudes tough passion, and a sense of belonging and love that holds you rapt to the very last line: ‘This is my life. I want no other.’” – Intelligent Life Magazine
About the Author
JAMES REBANKS runs a family-owned farm in the Lake District in northern England. He uses his popular Twitter feed – @herdyshepherd1- to share updates on the shepherding year.
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But it is also the free life of a man who is his own boss, among a community of similar hard working families, with its times of sadness, frustration, anger, despair almost, followed by moments of pure happiness and beauty.
What makes this book so unique is that you never doubt the truth of any of it. Nothing has been prettified or omitted as not good enough for a book.
I have learnt a lot from it about nature in that part of the world too, as I live far from it.