Gossip from the Forest | Granta

  • Published: 06/06/2013
  • ISBN: 9781847084309
  • 129x20mm
  • 368 pages

Gossip from the Forest

Sara Maitland

Fairytales are one of our earliest and most vital cultural forms, and forests one of our most ancient landscapes. Both evoke a similar sensation in us – we find them beautiful and magical, but also spooky, sometimes horrifying.

In this fascinating book, Maitland argues that the two forms are intimately connected: the mysterious secrets and silences, gifts and perils of the forests were both the background and the source of the fairytales made famous by the Grimms and Hans Christian Andersen. Yet both forests and fairy stories are at risk and their loss deprives us of our cultural lifeblood. Maitland visits forests through the seasons, from the exquisite green of a beechwood in spring, to the muffled stillness of a snowy pine wood in winter. She camps with her son Adam, whose beautiful photographs are included in the book; she takes a barefoot walk through Epping Forest with Robert Macfarlane; she walks with a mushroom expert through an oak wood, and with a miner through the Forest of Dean. Maitland ends each chapter with a unique, imaginitive re-telling of a fairytale.

Written with Maitland’s wonderful clarity and conversational grace, Gossip from the Forest is a magical and unique blend of nature writing, history and imaginative fiction.

A beautiful, thoughtful book... Maitland is incredibly good at taking us with her on journeys through the woods, as she examines her emotional responses... damn near perfect

Rebecca Armstrong, Independent

Wonderfully enthusiastic... Maitland [writes] gleefully of crystal brain fungi and the 'strange smokey shimmer' of bluebells. Her relish is infectious

Oliver Laing, Observer

Lyrical and imaginative... A walk through the woods with Maitland offers more refreshment than a vacuum flask of tea... An enchanted spinning wheel of a book, it turns the world around it into gold

Victoria Segal, Guardian

The Author

Sara Maitland is the author of numerous works of fiction, including the Somerset Maugham Award-winning Daughters of Jerusalem, and several non-fiction books about religion. Born in 1950, she studied at Oxford University and currently tutors on the MA in creative writing for Lancaster University. She lives in Galloway.

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