When BBC Radio 4's Material World programme announced a search for the UK's top amateur scientist, little did anyone expect that the winning experiment would comprise one of our humblest garden pests. Ruth Brooks posed this question: Do snails have a homing instinct?
The nation was gripped by the unexpected thesis and by Ruth's online diaries, which catalogued her trials and tribulations as she got to grips with these slimy little gastropods.
A Slow Passion is Ruth's story, with anecdotes and misadventures galore. What starts out as a ruthless vendetta against the snails that are decimating her hostas becomes a journey of discovery into the whys and wherefores of snail life. When Ruth dumps a group of the worst offending snails in a far-off wood, she decides to paint their shells with nail varnish, just to see what happens. And guess what, they come back home.
This is the beginning of an obsession that sees the grandmother-turned-scientist prowling about and pouncing on the snails in her garden, sneaking off on night-time missions to repatriate bucket loads of painted snails, reading up on the sex-life of snails (which turns out to be unexpectedly romantic) and, eventually, sending off the application to a national competition for home science.
With charming illustrations, A Slow Passion is a sweet, funny and surprising investigation into the hidden life of snails, which will change the way you look at the smaller (and slower) things in life.