Author Meera Lee Sethi travels to Sweden one summer to volunteer at a bird observatory. Her time in the mists and mountains of Sweden led her to write...moreAuthor Meera Lee Sethi travels to Sweden one summer to volunteer at a bird observatory. Her time in the mists and mountains of Sweden led her to write a collection of contemplative essays that are collected here.
What beautiful language! I was in deep like from the beginning and in love by the closing sentences of the first chapter.
"We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls. What you are reading was supposed to be a book about birds but it is about this, too."
Aren't you just ready to sink into Sethi's writing and follow wherever she leads?
This slim book is imbued with layers of meaning. There are the surface stories about the birds and the landscape of Sweden and then there are the ways in which Sethi ties those things back into human experience. In the first chapter the migratory cuckoo becomes a metaphor for the wanderlust and yearning for other lives we all feel sometimes. In another the isolation we each occasionally feel is linked to the poor "vagrant" birds who get blown so far away from their native lands that they will never make it back. And so it goes throughout the whole book.
The fjälls of Sweden are so beautifully described that I'm ready to catch a plane and visit. Not being a fan of cold weather, Sweden isn't high on my list of places to visit, so this is really saying something.
I loved that there is an index at the back listing some of the birds that Sethi mentions in the book. When I'm reading I really don't stop to look up things I want to know. I always think I'll do it later but, of course, when later comes I've forgotten the names of what I want to research. I'll be hitting Google in a few minutes to look at these birds for myself.
And that brings me to the one thing that could really make this book better. I think it is just begging to be illustrated with watercolors or charcoal sketches that match the author's evocative yet spare style. I would buy that edition in a heartbeat. There's nothing wrong with it as is but I want the deluxe illustrated edition.
Bird-watchers should enjoy this but those with a scientific leaning or even a tendency toward the philosophical will enjoy it as well.
Thanks to the author for sending me a copy for review.(less)