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Summary

From James Rebanks, the Herdwick Shepherd, comes The Shepherd's Life, a story of the Lake District and its people which could redefine the literature of rural life.

Some people's lives are entirely their own creations. James Rebanks' isn't. The first son of a shepherd, who was the first son of a shepherd himself, he and his family have lived and worked in and around the Lake District for generations. Their way of life is ordered by the seasons and the work they demand and has been for hundreds of years. A Viking would understand the work they do: sending the sheep to the fells in the summer and making the hay; the autumn fairs where the flocks are replenished; the gruelling toil of winter, when the sheep must be kept alive, and the lightheadedness that comes with spring, as the lambs are born and the sheep get ready to return to the fells.

These modern dispatches from an ancient landscape tell the story of a deep-rooted attachment to place, describing a way of life that is little noticed and yet has profoundly shaped this landscape. In evocative and lucid prose, James Rebanks takes us through a shepherd's year, offering a unique account of rural life and a fundamental connection with the land that most of us have lost. It is a story of working lives, the people around him, his childhood, and his parents and grandparents, a people who exist and endure even as the world changes around them. Many stories are of people working desperately hard to leave a place. This is the story of someone trying desperately hard to stay.

James Rebanks is the Herdwick Shepherd, whose account of shepherding has a strong following on Twitter (@herdyshepherd1). His family has farmed in the same area for more than 600 years.

©2015 James Rebanks (P)2015 Audible, Ltd

Critic reviews

"Affectionate, evocative, illuminating. A story of survival - of a flock, a landscape and a disappearing way of life. I love this book." (Nigel Slater, author of Toast and the Kitchen Diaries)
"Bloody marvelous." (Helen MacDonald, author of H is for Hawk)
"May well do for sheep what Helen Macdonald did for hawks." ( Guardian)

What listeners say about The Shepherd's Life

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Brilliant

What about Bryan Dick’s performance did you like?

I loved the narration of this book. I thought he had the right tone and emotional attachment to the subject. For such a gentle book the narrator made it compelling listening.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

The book takes you through a whole gamut of emotions, from laughter, sadness, anger and compassion. Makes you reflect on what a wonderful landscape we are privileged to live in and how hard the people who shape our landscape have to work just to exist.
You also have a sense of how the farmer really cares about his flock and the animals general well being.

Any additional comments?

Not my usual sort of book but would urge anyone who loves the outdoor life to have a listen/ read.

9 people found this helpful

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CAPTIVATING - IN CAPITAL LETTERS

This book shortened so many car journeys. I have learned so much about the life of a Shepherd and have an even greater respect for their way of life. Living in the lowlands of eastern England I never realised how soft we were over here.
The writer and any Fell Farmer has my total respect. A fantastic book and in the same class as Heelis and Wainright.

8 people found this helpful

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Excellent!

A superb book, beautifully and passionately written.A moving insight into the world of the Cumbrian hill farmer..Highly recommended..

7 people found this helpful

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Disappointed

I really wanted to like this book. I was genuinely interested to learn about the life of a shepherd but I found myself arguing with the author or making comments in response to his surly assertions. I am clearly one of those townies that he resents so much, and I wanted to tell him that my life was also very tough in different ways, and I would’ve willingly swapped places with him when I was young. However I persevered and near the end of the book he did seem to mellow. Obviously many people love this book but I am one of the exceptions. Sorry.

5 people found this helpful

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True insight into British farming history

I would recommend this book to anybody who has the slightest interest in British food production, rural living, and the effects of the modern world, on this way of life. Great listen.

5 people found this helpful

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Has changed the way I see farming

An amazing book - brilliantly read. Really eye-opening - and very affecting. I am so glad I read this - really original and unexpected.

5 people found this helpful

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It's good being a shepheard

This is an excellent book for those who know that the sunday joint once had legs, a tail and a head and the hard graft that went in to the rearing and nurturing of that which is on the plate in the first place. However this story is more than just the life of a shepherd. It's more than a memoir or autobiography. It touches on the deeper issues of overcrowding, the changing landscape for good or evil and the benefits or not of compulsory education. It is not judgemental but asks some interesting questions through the writer's own experiences of his own life. It is not a book for the sentimental or the squeamish. Farming is a business not a pet passtime. I gave this book such a good rating because it is deep and frank read with a great deal of emotion with some coarse language thrown in. Very graphic.

11 people found this helpful

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Genuinely Brilliant

An utterly authentic and compelling book about a man and his way of life. I recommend it enthusiastically. Few books are written so well about work. Throw away your management manuals and try this. It may not speak of the office, but the lessons are thereto be learned. And aside from that it's a great story about life, the purpose of education and the place of work and family.

4 people found this helpful

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Yawn of the not so wild.

This guy has such a chip on his shoulder about not being thought to be stupid. Ironically he goes on to display his ignorance of all things not sheep and denigrate them as meaningless, lazy, dishonest.
I work on the land myself and understand that it is a luxury, a privilege and let’s be honest, a taxpayer funded one. Sheep farming traditionally is great, lamb tastes great but is not noble or essential. Also he’s really boring.

2 people found this helpful

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farmer elitism

the sense of entitlement makes it very difficult to empathise. didn't dispell any of my supposed assumptions about farmers.

2 people found this helpful