Fiona'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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For me, this book saved itself in the last 30 pages or so when we were taken through the trials and tribulations of the lambing season. There is no doubt that James Rebanks loves his life and his life's work but he must have very broad shoulders to carry all the chips we hear about early on in the book - against his schooling, against tourists, against offcomers (second homers or others making their homes in 'his' patch). As a keen fell walker (he sneers at us and feels very superior) and someone who had a holiday home in the Lakes for 12 years (how awful), he made me cross that he should think I don't respect and admire the work that fell farmers do to work and maintain the land. As a dog owner, I object to the generalisation that we are all irresponsible idiots around sheep. In closing, he waxes lyrical about being on the fells. I hate to disillusion him but his joy at being in the wide open spaces, hearing nothing but birdsong, ewes and lambs calling to each other, and burns trickling down the fell side, is a joy shared by very many of us. He should be pleased about that as we bring in a lot of income to the area, much of which benefits farmers offering accommodation, camping sites, etc. While reading this, I felt I should always feel slightly unwelcome but I refuse to feel that way. The fells are there for us all to enjoy. As a book, I found the style annoyingly disjointed at times and he uses far too many unnecessary 'inverted commas' but I could have forgiven that if he had been less sullen and sulky for so much of the time. Rant over. It's a best seller because he has a large Twitter following and because people are genuinely interested in what he does, even if he continues to look down his nose at 'urban dwellers'. If we didn't eat lamb and wear woollen clothing, he wouldn't have a farm!
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Reading Progress

April 18, 2016 – Shelved
April 18, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
April 22, 2016 – Started Reading
April 23, 2016 –
page 35
13.67% "So - this guy thinks he's smart because he deliberately didn't work at school and made his teachers' lives a misery. Why? Because fell farmers don't need an education. He knows plenty of intelligent, successful fell farmers who are semi literate and he thinks that's something to shout about it. I'm not liking this guy but I'm reading on."
April 29, 2016 – Shelved as: nature-writing
April 29, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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message 1: by Janet (new)

Janet I have picked this up a few times but I think perhaps I won't actually buy it! I love the Lake District and enjoyed A Yorkshire Shepherdess (although that wasn't without its irritations) but I shall give this a miss!


Fiona I had a quick look at the Yorkshire one since you mentioned it. It's probably too like this in terms of shepherding stories for me to make a point of reading it but she seems likeable at least which this guy just wasn't. Not if you love the Lakes anyway!


message 3: by Secraser (new)

Secraser Well said.


Margaret I had just the same reaction when I read this book - he made me so cross!


Fiona Margaret wrote: "I had just the same reaction when I read this book - he made me so cross!"

I was walking in the Fells yesterday, Margaret - a glorious day. It still rankles when I think about him!


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