Sareen's Reviews > The Living Mountain

The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd
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it was amazing

‘Summer on the high plateau can be delectable as honey; it can also be a roaring scourge.’

From the first line I was hooked. When I read Nan Shepherd’s legendary book, ‘The Living Mountain’ I almost felt as if the book itself was alive – the descriptions are so vivid, so clear and intense.

This is the first book for a long time I’ve felt I needed to take a pencil and underline all the beautiful passages. It is a wonderful study of nature.

Over twelve short chapters the author focuses on one aspect of life in the Cairngorms and it becomes an appreciation of the mountains throughout the entire year.

This is the book that may explain why so many people love Scotland.

‘Light in Scotland has a quality I have not met elsewhere.’

Although her use of language is poetic, she is also straight speaking, she had a gift for seeing people with the same clarity of vision as she does the many faces of the mountains. Her enthusiasm for walking and spending time in the Cairngorms is infectious.

‘This may suggest to reach the high plateau of the Cairngorms is difficult. But no, no such thing. Given clear air, and the unending daylight of a Northern Summer, there is not one of the summits but can be reached by a moderately strong walker without distress.’

That is not to say she underestimates the danger or does not advise the walker to take care.

‘we accept individual responsibility for ourselves on the mountain…’

I could spend this whole review quoting from this book. This is a lesson in descriptive writing and deserves to be read again and again.

I was particularly entranced by her description of sleeping on the mountain and her interactions with the birds and animals. Interestingly I had recently read Kathleen Jamie’s ‘Findings’ and enjoyed both authors’ descriptions of their encounters with peregrines.

There is a gentle side to this writing, like a summer’s day but with the pace of a clear burn tumbling, twisting and turning down a ravine.

This book is a love letter to the Cairngorms, the landscape, the birds, animals, people, weather and moods of these mountains. As such it would be a hard-hearted reader who could not appreciate the enthusiasm, beauty and joy Nan Shepherd brought to her writing.

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
January 17, 2019 – Shelved

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