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Summary

The author of the beloved number one best seller The Shepherd's Life returns with a stirring history of family, loss and the land over three generations on a Lake District farm. 

James Rebanks was taught by his grandfather to work the land the old way. Their family farm in the Lake District hills was part of an ancient agricultural landscape: a patchwork of crops and meadows, of pastures grazed with livestock and hedgerows teeming with wildlife. And yet, by the time James inherited the farm, that landscape had profoundly changed. The men and women had vanished from the fields; the old stone barns had crumbled; the skies had emptied of birds and their wind-blown song.

English Pastoral is the story of an inheritance: one that affects us all. It tells of how rural landscapes around the world were brought close to collapse and how the age-old rhythms of work, weather, community and wild things were lost. But this elegy from the Northern Fells is also a song of hope: of how, guided by the past, one farmer began to salvage a tiny corner of England that was now his, doing his best to restore the life that had vanished and to leave a legacy for the future.

This is a book about what it means to have love and pride in a place and how, against the odds, it may still be possible to build a new pastoral: not a utopia, but somewhere decent for us all.

©2020 Rebanks Consulting Ltd (P)2020 Audible, Ltd

Critic reviews

“Remarkable.... A brilliant, beautiful book.... Eloquent, persuasive and electric with the urgency that comes out of love.” (Sunday Times

“One of the most important books of our time. Anyone who cares about our land - indeed, anyone who buys food - should read this book. Told with humility and grace, this story of farming over three generations - where we went wrong and how we can change our ways - is at the forefront of a revolution. It will be our land’s salvation.” (Isabella Tree) 

“A heartfelt book, and one that dares to hope.” (Alan Bennett) 

What listeners say about English Pastoral

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One of the most important books I’ve ever read

I live and work as a vet in the British Countryside amongst farmers who are struggling to make ends meet - in a community where the small mixed farms are the worst affected. This book voices everything I feel passionately about in a rational and yet moving tale. Brilliant and highly recommended.

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Really beautiful

What a pleasure this book is. An interesting insight of farming through my lifetime. This book is so valuable as an accurate and heartfelt account of a farmers aspect of industrial style farming. What caused the changes and how things are changing again. I was overwhelmed by the tenderness and passion. I am thrilled to know that farming today can be turned around a little at a time and tweaked back into something more acceptable and environmentally friendly. We all have to play our small part, Reading this book is a start. Changing our habits is our commitment to our children's future. Well done James, for all you've done and all you are doing for the future. This book is something to be proud of.

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everyone should read this.

As a farmers son.....please read this! its perfect and amazing and moving and motivational. Perhaps my favourite book ever.

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Essential reading, beautifully written

When I started listening I immediately knew that this book was so full of important information that I wanted a hard copy for reference. I also knew that as soon as it was finished I would go straight back to the beginning and listen again. The book simply spoke to my heart. There’s nothing more I need to say really.

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Timely and needed

This is a powerful, honest story of one farmers awakening to the issues of modern farming practices and how he changed his approach. It hits your emotions hard, but it needs to. We all share a responsibility to support our farmers to make the choices that best benefit our environment and this book illustrates why this is so important. This book will move, anger and inspire in equal measure. It is timely and needed. Bryan Dick's narration is also perfect for this book.

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Awesome Book

A wonderful, inspiring listen. It covers old farming methods, the changes brought about and the problems it brought. But there is a message of hope. No easy solutions, but a calling for a better understanding.

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Insightful

Superb, my husbands great grandfather and generations before him farmed at Thackthwaite and Watermillock so I will intrigued to see if I could get an insight into their lives and James dud not disappoint. what an insightful, thought provoking book about how our habits and purchases really do impact on everything around us.

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A Brilliant Second Book!

Having read the first book, I had great expectations and wasn't disappointed! A very inspiring and uplifting book with many lessons we could all use to 'improve' in small ways for a greater good. interesting for anyone interested in the English Landscape in particular the English Lake District. As a frequent visitor these two books alone have given me a greater respect for those decent Farmers who work that landscape we all enjoy. Thank you.

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Excellent.

Honest, engaging, informative. An important message told from the heart. Highly recommended for farmers, ecologists and anyone wanting an insight into what's happening to the British countryside.

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An Absolute Gem of a book

This book is exquisitely written and read with genuine feeling. It will transport you to the heart of the Lakeland fells and allow you to experience the countryside through the eyes and heart of a man who passionately loves it.