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Summary

Take a journey into our ancient past. Explore a long-lost landscape and gradually discover the minds, beliefs and cultural practices of those souls who lived on these lands thousands of years before you.

Travelling the length and breadth of Britain, James Canton pursues his obsession with the physical traces of the ancient world: stone circles, flint arrowheads, sacred stones, gold, and a lost Roman road. He ponders the features of the natural world that occupied ancient minds: the night sky, shooting stars, the rising and setting sun. Wandering to the farthest reaches of the islands, he finds an undeciphered standing stone north of Aberdeen and follows the first footsteps on the edge of a long-lost Ice Age land in the North Sea.

As Canton walks the modern terrain, slowly understanding the ancient signs that lie within and beneath it, he weaves a gentle tale of discovery, showing how, beyond the superficial differences of lifestyle and culture, the ancient inhabitants of the British Isles were much closer to the present-day ones than we might imagine.

©2017 James Canton (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic reviews

"Intensely alive to the landscape; its pasts, people and creatures." (Robert Macfarlane)

Praise for James Canton's Out of Essex:
"Some landscapes are silent, others as eager to communicate as the shades in Homer's underworld. But not everyone has the gift of hearing what they are saying. James Canton's involvement with Essex is long and deep, and in this book of walking, remembering, and reflecting, he picks up echoes from many writers who are connected to its villages, towns and surrounding countryside.... His pilgrimage to the past is full of surprises and always enjoyable, as he reinvigorates the familiar scene and recovers unfamiliar associations." (Marina Warner, chair of the Man Booker International Prize 2015)
"Canton...is a stalker of literary ghosts, following traces across the Essex countryside that might lead him to the writers who might have lived and worked among these landscapes." (Times Literary Supplement)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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Ups and Downs like the paths he walks

What did you like best about this story?

The range and breadth of how he writes about finds and facts, e.g. how it impacts him personally, the characters involved, the stories that go along with it all.

What about James Canton’s performance did you like?

He has a very delicate approach which matches what in some parts is quite a whimsical take on the author's experiences.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Exploring and Experience

Any additional comments?

I really liked this book, but it seemed a bit up and down in terms of how it took my interest. Some bits were really impressive and most was very interesting, but a few bits sunk into wiffle waffle and lacked the 'grounding' -- pun intended! -- in terms of his take on his experiences which the majority of the book conveys.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Painful plodding through the past

This potentially could have worked. No, it would have worked but for the author's reading style.

There are some interesting notions, but the combination of unqualified musings and surging vocal style make the whole thing very painful to listen too. The book itself is probably easier to work with, but I can't help but feel that the whole experience would have been transformed with a reading containing more gravitas than whimsy.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Enjoyable

Good to chill out to and an overall worth while listen to if your into this period of time of the British Isles.

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  • E. K. Gronek
  • 28-05-18

Waxing poetic about the past

Romanticizes the past. Only delivers a few new nuggets and insights. Beautifully written, but short on meaty content.