Back in June I spotted a rather lovely looking book being reviewed on one of my favourite blogs, Linda’s Book Bag. That book was Summer – An Anthology for the Changing Seasons edited by Melissa Harrison, and you can read Linda’s review here. Alison Menzies got in touch to offer me a copy for review, but instead I asked if I could take a look at the next in the series: my copy of Autumn – An Anthology for the Changing Seasons arrived last week. Published by Elliott and Thompson in conjunction with the Wildlife Trusts on 25th August 2016, Autumn is the third of four titles known collectively as The Seasons and is available for purchase from Amazon (in paperback and for kindle) and from Waterstones – and is as thoroughly lovely as I hoped it would be.
Autumn is a time of transformation. Crisp, clear days mark summer’s close and usher in a new season with its rich scents and vivid palette, leaves flaming red and gold by day, bonfires and fireworks lighting up the lengthening nights. There is abundance, as humans and animals make stores for the winter; and there is decay, which gives rise to the next cycle of life.
Everyone probably has a favourite season – and I think Autumn might just be mine, kicking leaves, watching the glorious colours, and watching nature’s cycle slowing down again for another year. This gorgeous little book is a diverse collection of autumnal prose and poetry, perfect to give as a gift to a lover of nature or literature, or to keep on your own shelves as a little treat to dip into from time to time.
Some of my personal favourites? I loved Alexi Francis’ piece about badgers, Louise Baker’s wonderful descriptive prose and her description of “textured treasure” and Jane Adams and the mysterious scratching in her attic. There’s a lovely piece from Will Harper-Penrose on the finding of nature in the heart of the city, and I loved Lucy McRobert’s really moving account of dolphin watching in the Scillies. And I enjoyed the extract from Nan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain, a real feast for the senses. Poetry too – good to rediscover some familiar ones from Yeats, Shelley and Tennyson, but some lovely ones that were new to me too, with my particular favourite being Alison Brackenbury’s Lapwings.
I really liked the way the book was punctuated by extracts from Reverend Gilbert White’s 1792 Naturalist’s Journal and Thomas Furly Forster’s 1827 Pocket Encyclopaedia of Natural Phenomena. The line drawings were simply lovely, and I also liked the addition of an appendix of biographies for further exploration.
Not the kind of book I usually review, but I really loved it. The next – and last – in the series, Winter, will be published on 20th October.
My thanks to Alison Menzies and publishers Elliott and Thompson for my review copy.
About the Editor, Melissa Harrison
Melissa Harrison is a writer and nature lover whose first novel Clay (2013) won the Portsmouth First Fiction prize, was selected for Amazon’s ‘Rising Stars’ programme and named by Ali Smith as a book of the year. Her second, At Hawthorn Time (2015), was shortlisted for the Costa Best Novel Award and chosen by the Telegraph as one of their Books of the Year; both books are as much about the natural world as they are about people. She writes the Nature Notebook in The Times and regularly speaks about conservation, literature, and the very fertile ground between the two.