The unabridged, digital audiobook edition of Robert MacFarlane's The Old Ways, a major new book from one of Britain's finest nature writers about landscape and the human heart. Read by Roy McMillan.
In The Old Ways, Robert Macfarlane sets off from his Cambridge home to follow the ancient tracks, holloways, drove-roads, and sea paths that form part of a vast network of routes crisscrossing the British landscape and its waters, and connecting them to the continents beyond. The result is an immersive, enthralling exploration of the ghosts and voices that haunt old paths, of the stories our tracks keep and tell, of pilgrimage and ritual, and of song lines and their singers. Above all this is a book about people and place: about walking as a reconnoiter inwards, and the subtle ways in which we are shaped by the landscapes through which we move.
Told in Macfarlane's distinctive and celebrated voice, the book folds together natural history, cartography, geology, archaeology, and literature. His tracks take him from the chalk downs of England to the bird-islands of the Scottish northwest, and from the disputed territories of Palestine to the sacred landscapes of Spain and the Himalayas. Along the way he walks stride for stride with a 5000-year-old man near Liverpool, follows the 'deadliest path in Britain', sails an open boat out into the Atlantic at night and crosses paths with walkers of many kinds - wanderers, wayfarers, pilgrims, guides, shamans, poets, trespassers, and devouts.
He discovers that paths offer not just means of traversing space, but also of feeling, knowing, and thinking. The old ways lead us unexpectedly to the new, and the voyage out is always a voyage inwards.
©2012 Robert Macfarlane (P)2012 Penguin Books Ltd
It took me a little while to get used to the 'voice' of this book. Very descriptive, reflective, introspective, I'm not sure how best to describe it. It conjured some rich word pictures but at times it seemed to require too much concentration and I'm sure I missed some of the detail. I don't want to be over negative; It did keep my interest and I really enjoyed the journey.
Could have done without the literature review at the beginning (first hour or so) but once this is dispensed with the author explores the concept of "old ways" in a fascinating and literary manner. Part adventure, part travelogue, part natural science. Hard to define, very enjoyable.
I had really high hopes for this listen, I am sorry to say I found it disappointing. The general concept is an exciting one, many British walks to explore and narrate an audible commentary on. Alas this book is more like a thesaurus at some points. I actually felt it to be pretentious. Some of the sentences are so long and the author has an irritating over use of adjectives. Also, it jumps around onto different topics which make it tricky to follow. He starts rambling about stuff which is nothing to do with what he started off describing. The narrator does a sterling job trying to make the 'strings' of words sound comprehensible. Another positive is that you get plenty of hours listening for your 1credit. I would say it's one of those Marmite books, love it or hate it.
The audiobook was excellent. I have bought the print version - the first time I have done this after listening to an audiobook - because of the wealth of references and my need to revisit parts of this book.
I cannot recall a book in all my years of reading that has been this dull. I tried and I tied to carry on but each minute dragged. I could not endure beyond 45 minutes.
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