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Meadowland

Narrated by: David Thorpe
Length: 6 hrs and 37 mins
4.6 out of 5 stars (69 ratings)

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Summary

Meadowland gives a unique and intimate account of an English meadow’s life from January to December, together with its biography.

In exquisite prose, John Lewis-Stempel records the passage of the seasons from cowslips in spring to the hay-cutting of summer and grazing in autumn, and includes the biographies of the animals that inhabit the grass and the soil beneath: the badger clan, the fox family, the rabbit warren, the skylark brood and the curlew pair, among others. Their births, lives, and deaths are stories that thread through the book from first page to last.

©2014 John Lewis-Stempel (P)2014 Soundings

What listeners say about Meadowland

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Interesting book ruined by the narrator

Had to give up and buy the book as the narrator is incredibly irritating and unsuited to the text. He randomly emphasises the wrong syllables and words and appears to have no understanding of the text whatsoever. Such a shame, as this could have been a great audiobook.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Frustrating read.

Is there anything you would change about this book?

The mismatch between the reader's performance style and the text.

While this is not a contender for a contemporary classic of nature writing, (John Lewis-Stempel is ok but no polished, prose stylist) the first person perspective is an engaging landsman's account based upon diary entries and is full of little treasures.

Unfortunately David Thorpe is miscast. His rather emphatic, workmanly rendition sounds like a youthful townie rather than the mature countryman writing about deep connection to place and regional context. There's a prevailing sense of tonal inauthenticity throughout I found difficult to ignore.

I suspect a modest authorial lyricism is also somewhat submerged by this reading. I'm not looking for a Hovis voice-over, but the soul of Mr. Lewis Stempel is that of an authentic contemporary son of the soil, and his account balances unsentimental truth with an admiration for the visionary perspective offered by predecessors picking up pen as plough. So there's a gentle grace to it which has been somewhat downplayed in this particular audio version. Pity.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Meadowland?

At one point the author is obliged to reap the field using a scythe. The spirit of the experience is beautifully captured I thought.

Would you be willing to try another one of David Thorpe’s performances?

Yes, but only if I thought the type of book was compatible with his style.

Was Meadowland worth the listening time?

Certainly.

Any additional comments?

Fans of this sort of stuff would probably be better off reading the book for themselves.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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England oh Albion

To live in England & not see the country would be a great shame, hence have this as your trip to England.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The wonders of nature spoilt by the narrator

Note to narrator: This is a story about the wonders of the English countryside, not an episode of Top Gear.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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An evocative & enlightening diary of country life

I've read this book in one sitting and then listened to it over a year so as to embrace the seasonal changes he describes so beautifully. I love his disdain for lawns, those 'green deserts marinated in chemicals' and it's easy to see why when he explains (sometimes brutally) the vast life that thrives in his Hereford farm. As well as seasonal change, there's historical change too. Long gone are the days of tweed and bacon sandwiches depicted by James Herriot, now the modern vet is dressed like a 'forensic scientist', determining whether his beloved cows will live or die. Some readers may find the odd description a little jarring in terms of shooting and death. But I found this pragmatic and refreshingly honest to the realities of rural life - and I'm a vegetarian.

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delightful

like "the country diary of an edwardian lady" but fully fleshed out. The life of the flora and fauna of a farm through one year. Thoroughly enjoyable.

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Entertaining and informative

I loved listening to this story of a Meadow with all the changes that it goes through over the course of a year. I felt the narrator told the story well and as I listened I could really visualise the scene. I found it very informative too and caught myself thinking “Oh I didn’t know that” more than once.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Compromised

My listening was marred by repeated sections and sentences sounding as if bad editing clipped the start of the first word (I played it at x1). Book took-off when about animals, but for me 'earthed' when about plants. This is when then book could so much have gained by having illustrations.