Rod's Reviews > The Shepherd's Life: A People's History of the Lake District

The Shepherd's Life by James Rebanks
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it was ok

There are two problems with this book. The first is, that despite Rebanks' acknowledgment of his editor's sterling work, the editing is frankly quite horrendous. We get almost verbatim the same paragraph about eleven pages apart (on pages 51 and 62), and there are numerous other instances of repetition throughout. The first page of the book was so poorly written that I almost gave up on it before I had even started in earnest.

The second problem is Rebanks himself. There's something oddly unlikeable about him as he forces his modesty and humility on us in a rather paradoxical fashion. I got tired of hearing his repeated and continued insistence on the salt-of-the-earth qualities of the shepherding ilk, and it came to accrue an inverse kind of snobbery that was grating. Of course you tourists and southerners couldn't possibly understand the ways of us simple folk, who are actually smarter and generally better than you anyway. Give me a break. He wants to have his cake and eat it too, as the retelling of his Oxford years reveals in more detail.

There was a good book in here somewhere, but it needed a sure-handed editor and a more charming narrative voice than Rebanks was able to provide. Quite disappointing, especially since it was blurbed enthusiastically by Helen MacDonald, author of the exquisite and perfect "H is for Hawk."
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Reading Progress

August 11, 2015 – Shelved
August 11, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
August 28, 2015 – Started Reading
September 10, 2015 –
page 27
10.55%
September 11, 2015 –
page 76
29.69%
September 13, 2015 –
page 212
82.81%
September 14, 2015 –
page 230
89.84%
September 14, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-7 of 7 (7 new)

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Pamela Huck Agreed about the editing, but concerning Rebank's narrative voice I found it interesting to read how such an anachronistic character manages to adapt to modern life. Or fails to do so. Patriarchy, lovingly described after it has ended - that was a nice melancholy touch for me. He knows it's all over, the grandfather-
father-son-business, I guess.


message 2: by Richard (new)

Richard Lawrence Couldnt agree more. the very peeps he dislikes are those buying his ruddy book.


Julie I agree completely. I don't like reading a book by an author who clearly has contempt for all of us un-baptized with sheep dip.


Fiona I couldn't agree with you more either. I just couldn't find much to like about this guy. And I hated his sneering attitude towards and generalisations about visitors and fell walkers.


The.Faye Totally. Especially the bit about Helen MacDonald.


Anneliese Tirry My thoughts exactly!


message 7: by Amanda (new)

Amanda I agree, and I only read the Kindle sample! The inverted snobbery trumpeted loudly in my ear and I couldn't carry on with it.


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