Into the Tangled Bank

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Title: Into the Tangled Bank

Writer: Lev Parikian

Publishing House:  Elliott & Thompson

Date of Publication: June 3rd 2021 (first published July 9th 2020)

Rating: 5 stars

‘’There is nothing like nature to make you feel inadequate.’’

Nature. One of the most sacred words. Our mother, our home and shelter. And yet, how we abuse it. How we take it for granted. How we ignore that we can find traces of its beauty everywhere. From the tiny plant pot resting by our kitchen window to the flowers that try to grow in our balcony, the trees that beautify our made-of-concrete cities and the forests that give us life. In this beautiful book, Lev Parikian explores the aspects of Nature that have influenced our lives, the fascinating secrets of its creatures, the pioneers of conservation and the quirky traits of the amateur (and the professional…) birdwatchers.

‘Then I’d walk slowly home, hedgerows to left and right, cow parsleys and nettles jostling for position in the ditch, and just before the bend in the road the trees arching over the lane, meeting in the middle, offering welcome shade and coolth in the heat of those endless summer days of my memory.’’

Through witty, conversational, direct and joyful writing, Lev Parikian guides us into the richness of British nature and the journey – especially to the ones like me who don’t have the opportunity to explore every corner of the UK, no matter how many times I’ve been there – is beautiful beyond words. From that little annoying fly that finds its way into our house and the spiders in our basements and attics to rare birds, dolphins, puffins (I LOVE puffins!!!), sightings of a beluga whale in the Thames, eagles, you name it.

Through witty, conversational, direct and joyful writing, Lev Parikian guides us into the richness of British nature and the journey – especially to the ones like me who don’t have the opportunity to explore every corner of the UK, no matter how many times I’ve been there – is beautiful beyond words. From that little annoying fly that finds its way into our house and the spiders in our basements and attics to rare birds, dolphins, puffins (I LOVE puffins!!!), sightings of a beluga whale in the Thames, eagles, you name it.

But don’t think for a moment that this book is just ‘’descriptions’’ upon ‘’descriptions.’’ Far from it. There are so many moments of quiet beauty, evident in Chapter 5 (When Nature Changes), a melancholic, eerie, nostalgic, moving account on the relationship between nature and mental health, and in Chapter 10 (Getting Away From It All) where togetherness in nature is celebrated. We travel to beautiful places. The Isle of Skye, the Farne Islands and Skokholm, to name a few. And the Moon. We learn about women pioneers of the field like Etta Lemon and Caroline Herschel, and contemplate complex issues like the existence of zoos and the imbalance in the demographic of nature lovers.

I mean, come on. Just read this paragraph:

‘’The last pale gleam of sun pokes through the cloud of a late autumn afternoon, lights up the tree-tops in the copse of the far end of the field, flaming the russet and lemon tinges against the glowering backdrop of dark and heavy rain clouds. Muted, compared to the lurid display sometimes on offer at the time of year, but nonetheless possessed of a subdued charm. A soft mist rises from the ground, fields in bare autumn clothes of earth and stubble.’’

Honestly!

I started this book under my very own flimsy-made- but I’m -proud-of -it canopy in my balcony (and canopies of any kind are simply non-existent in the centre of Athens, let me tell you…) and finished it in our summer house in the mountains of Arcadia, in Peloponnese. Nature is everywhere, its love generously provided. It is time we learned to respect it and cherish it.

‘’A moment to give you hope, to remind you that in the vast gulf between the two extremes of engagement there is more good than ill, that if you chip away, show enough people the magic of a dolphin or a hobby or even the dunnock on the path, the tide will, against all the odds, make a turn for the better.’’

Many thanks to Alison Menzies, Lev Parikian and Elliott & Thompson for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.