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Rain: Four Walks in English Weather

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  550 ratings  ·  116 reviews
An evocative meditation on the English landscape in wet weather by the acclaimed novelist and nature writer, Melissa Harrison.

Whenever rain falls, our countryside changes. Fields, farms, hills and hedgerows appear altered, the wildlife behaves differently, and over time the terrain itself is transformed.

In Rain, Melissa Harrison explores our relationship with the weather a
Hardcover, 104 pages
Published March 3rd 2016 by Faber & Faber (first published 2016)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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Amalia Gkavea
‘’The village is far behind me now, its squat church tower lost in trees. The lane I walk is flanked by hawthorn hedges, and on the regress glossy hart’s tongue fens funnel the rain so it paddles in their centres where the new fronds unfurl. There are bluebells, too, not the pushy, varicoloured hybrids that colonise my London garden, but English bluebells hung with silver drops, delicately drooped like a shepherd’s cloak, and with a curious luminosity to their cobalt flowers.’’ of
May 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
And who art thou? said I to the soft-falling shower,
Which, strange to tell, gave me an answer,
as here translated:
I am the poem of earth...

Walt Whitman, The Voice of the Rain.

Thus begins Melissa Harrison's slim book on rain and walking, and I think she does every bit as good a job as Whitman in describing both the rain, and the changing moods of our sodden island.

I was brought up in a hot dry country, and as far back as I can remember my mother used to talk nostalgically of England, and the joys
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley to read and write an honest review.
Over the summer you, may catch in a home a conversation that goes along the lines of:
‘Do you fancy a walk somewhere tomorrow?’

‘Why not; what is the weather doing?'

‘Raining! Shall we go to the pub instead?’

But not in Melissa Harrison’s house, where in the course of research for this slim volume, she actively sought out the rain and drizzle on her four walks around Wicken Fen in the Winter, near
Nov 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nature-writing
I won’t set out for a walk in the rain unless it’s unavoidable but I don’t mind if the rain comes on while I’m walking. In the countryside, other walkers disappear quickly when the rain comes on and so it’s easier to find a solitary spot.

This book contains four walks in different parts of the south of England. I found the first walk in Wicken Fen disappointing. It’s the sort of nature writing that just reels off what’s being observed. Without the necessary background knowledge, it’s frankly bor
David Reviews
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it

Rain: Four Walks in English Weather is a joy to read. The very British obsession with the weather is combined with nature and wildlife in the delightful company of Melissa Harrison, who observes and informs us along the way. We enjoy four walks in the book which are beautifully described and taken in different seasons:
Wicken Fen (Jan) - in Winter / Shropshire (Apr) – in the Spring
The Darent Valley (Aug) – In Summer / Dartmoor (Oct) - in the Autumn

In each of the walks the rain falls and the autho
In the course of a year Harrison took four rainy walks, in different seasons and different parts of England. She intersperses her observations with facts and legends about the rain (the term “old saw” appears three times!), including quotes from historical weather guides and poems. I have very little to say about this; it has the occasional nice line, but is a very understated nature/travel book overall. The most noteworthy moment is when (at the very end) she remembers scattering her mother’s a ...more
Cold War Conversations Podcast
Feb 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: uk, nature
A Glorious ramble through the English countryside in great English weather!

This short book contains four descriptions of various walks in inclement weather brought to vivid life by the great descriptive skills of Melissa Harrison.

I really enjoyed this lovely armchair volume which reminds you of the breadth of flora and fauna in England whilst being humorous and entertaining at the same time.

Recommended for the outdoorsy person in your life.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exc
Nov 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
"And anyway, it seems to me that if you're only ever out on sunny days, you only see half the picture, and remain somehow untested and callow; whereas discovering that you can withstand all the necessary and ordinary kinds of weather creates a satisfying feeling of equanimity in the face of life's vicissitudes that may or may not be rational, but is real nonetheless."

I loved this book, I only wish it were longer.
Jan 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I’m someone who has walked wild places, often in rain, for many years so this book looked a good match to me. I wasn’t disappointed. This book, Rain, Four Walks in English Weather by Melissa Harrison, is not long but manages to get an awful lot in between the covers. There are only four walks; Wicken Fen (in Winter), Shropshire (Spring), The Darent Valley (Summer) and Dartmoor in Autumn. This means that, in addition to some very varied areas and scenery, seasons are neatly worked in too. In addi ...more
Jan 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
Melissa Harrison’s great gift as a nature writer is seeing the miraculous in the everyday. She’s not an explorer, conquering distant hazardous terrains; she writes about the close to home, and especially seasons and weather, which theme this slim volume. Specifically, how rain, that most typically English weather, shapes the landscape and its flora and fauna.

She narrates four long wet walks: in the Cambridgeshire fenland in winter, the hinterland of Shropshire in spring, along the River Darent
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Delightful book of essays about rain in England. The author takes walks in Wicken Fen in January, Shropshire in April, the Darent Valley in August, and Dartmoor in October. She uses historic works and observations about rain as well of some of her own over the years in crafting the essays. She includes two glossaries--one of common terms used by residents and one of a more official meteorological nature. I stumbled across this when someone read it for a challenge in June, and it lived up to the ...more
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am a big fan of walking in the rain, there are a number of reasons; My dog hates the rain, it is very rare to see another person, the place seems to come alive, colours are more vivid and it is exhilarating to have walked in a storm. A couple of walks I remember well was an 8mile charity walk when my daughter was a cub, it poured it down the whole time, my waterproofs became saturated and clothes underneath soaked through, the second we got back to the car the rain suddenly stopped and the sun ...more
Kate Yates
Jul 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm loving anything by Melissa Harrison at the moment so it was a nice surprise to find this on my shelves during a lockdown rearrange! ...more
Lady Mayfair
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This little book reads so familiar, I'm so glad I've picked it up after skimming through the review of one of my Goodreads friends (Hi Amalia!) it almost feels as if Ms. Harrison came along on my trips around the country. Was she with me in Dartmoor National Park? Had she chaperoned me around Lewtrenchant's gardens? Had she been a walking companion to Hound Tor? I cannot deny it with certainty, as I recognise so many little things in this book; smells of trees, colours of perfect English country ...more
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is probably a good sign that your interests are a little too varied when you start reading books about rain, and walks in rain. But here we are!

Rain is pretty much what it says it is on the tin and I am thankful to have spotted it at my local bookstore. Melissa Harrison embarks on four walks across the year, first in Wicken Fen, then in Shropshire, The Darent Valley and Dartmoor. All of her walks preach ‘toss’ to fine weather and are footed in the rain. The reading feels just a little bit sac
Nov 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Four seasons, four walks in rain from refreshing rain on a hot summer day to fine autumn rain. The 100 words for rain at the end of the book were interesting.
Apr 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: april-2017, borrowed
I chose Melissa Harrison's Rain: Four Walks in English Weather to read during my final Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon. It is truly lovely; within its pages, Harrison takes four countryside walks around various parts of England, and in different seasons. Her writing is lovely, and she makes the most of discussing the ways in which rain affects particular landscapes, and how the animals which live within them have adapted - or not, as the case may be. Rain is geographically, geologically, historically, ...more
Marina Sofia
Feb 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'm not a huge fan of rain - it's the most depressing kind of weather and it often seems to be the only weather available in England. But this book enabled me to see it in a different way. It is exactly what it says on the cover: 4 walks in 4 seasons in 4 different kinds of rainy weather (from thunderstorm to drizzle, from showers to steady curtains of rain). The author's love and knowledge of nature, observations on changes in climate and perceptions of the weather, filled with quotations and t ...more
Sadie Slater
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Melissa Harrison's Rain: Four Walks in English Weather is another of the "random walking books I picked up while browsing in the travel section of Blackwells" (a category that accounts for a fairly substantial proportion of my TBR pile). It's exactly what it says on the tin; four short essays describing four rainy walks taken across the course of a single year, one each quarter. Each essay blends description of the walks themselves and the varied landscapes and rain Harrison walks through, which ...more
Sophy H
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: pluviophiles
Shelves: outdoor-nature
A short yet very sweet book about all things rain!

As a dedicated pluviophile and geography buff, I loved this book immensely. There was talk of rainy walks, orographic relief, ground surface runoff, droplet size! I was like a pig in shat!!

If you're a lover of listening to rain drumming on a tin roof in a feisty thunderstorm, or watching the streaks down a window on a whimsical Tuesday afternoon, then this is the book for you.
Renee (The B-Roll)
Jun 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is an exploration of rain and how the world changes once water begins to fall from the sky. This book is set up into four different essays, each taking place during a different season and at a different place around England. Each essay is easy to read, and at times fun, as they go into depth about different facts related to rain along with how rain changes and/or influences the world around us.

What I loved most about this book, next to the subject of rain, is how easy it is to read thi
Bill Anderson
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book as it creates moods that vibrate with me and my feelings when I’m out in nature. I must read it again soon.
May 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written, gentle and informative book about exploring the English countryside in the rain.

"... to experience the countryside on fair days and never foul is to understand only half its story."
Aug 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: england
My mother loved this place, and I think about the day when we brought her up here one last time, right at the very end of her life. It was a strange afternoon; it felt to me as though it should have had more shape, more meaning, but none of us quite knew how to give it the significance we needed. Like so many things in life, you just do your best; but for a long time after we all straggled back to our waiting cars, leaving the gritty ash to blow from the tor's top, I thought every time it rained ...more
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a beautiful little book from the UK National Trust. Melissa Harrison takes us on 4 rambles through the English countryside enjoying the rain at all times. Along the way we learn about the birds, insects and mammals that are to be found as well as the plant life and the author includes snatches of poetry. I particularly enjoyed the glossary at the end in which she lists all the names for rain to be found in different area of the country. A charming little read.
Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
A beautifully written book about the pleasure of walking outdoors in rainy weather. As Harrison quotes famous walker Alfred Wainwright "There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.". And after just getting home from another very wet dog walk, but arriving home dry because of my rain gear, I can totally agree. ...more
Dan Power
These guided meditations through rained-on landscapes are incredibly vivid. It feels a lot like taking the walk yourself - there are a moments of very dramatic beauty, with a healthy amount of gentle plodding in between. A lovely, soothing, ambient lockdown read.
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
A quiet, lyrical little piece of nature writing, marred slightly by an insistence that going out in bad weather makes us better people.
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Helen Smith
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written, quick to read. A pleasure for rainy afternoons
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Melissa Harrison is the author of the novels Clay and At Hawthorn Time, which was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award and longlisted for the Bailey's Women's Prize, and one work of non-fiction, Rain, which was longlisted forthe Wainwright Prize. She is a nature writer, critic and columnist for The Times, the Financial Times and the Guardian, among others. Her new novel All Among the Barley is du ...more

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