- Published: 29/06/2017
- ISBN: 9781847085184
- 368 pages
Love of Country
The Hebrides hold a remarkable place in the imaginations of Scotland and England. On the outer edge of the British Isles and facing the Atlantic Ocean, these iconic islands form part of Europe’s boundary. Because of their unique position, they have been at the centre of a network of ancient shipping routes which has led to a history of cultures colliding and merging. Home to a long and rich Gaelic tradition, they have attracted saints and sinners, and artists and writers, inspiring awe and dread as well as deep attachment.
Over six years, Madeleine Bunting travelled to the Hebrides, exploring their landscapes, histories and magnetic pull. With great sensitivity and perceptiveness, she delves into the meanings of home and belonging, which in these islands have been fraught with tragedy as well as tenacious resistance. She finds that their history of dispossession and migration played a part in the British imperial past. And perhaps more significant still is the extent of the islands’ influence on ideas of Britishness. Love of Country shows how the islands’ history is a backdrop for contemporary debates about the relationship between our nations, how Britain was created, and what Britain has meant – for good and for ill.
[An] excellent book... [Bunting's] depth of engagement gives authenticity to the writings and substance to the arguments... Almost the perfect marriage of physical travelogue to the inner landscape of political ideas and cultural reflections that makes this such a super read. I cannot think of a more intellectually challenging or rewarding travel book in recent years... Love of Country is in every way a richer, more mature work than Bunting's award-winning 2009 memoir, The Plot. I expect it to bring her prizes and fame
Mark Cocker, New Statesman
[Bunting's] crisp and luminous prose is the ideal medium to capture the ambiguities and dichotomies of the landscape; between ever-shifting sea and unfathomably old rock... Bunting has a keen eye for a story... [and her] great achievement with this book is to weave these elements together rather than concentrate on particular examples... When writing about the natural world - particularly the ocean - her prose reaches its own kind of lyrical epiphany. It seems to me that if the "new nature writing" [...] is to be something more than Fotherington-Thomas from the Molesworth books swooning over tormentil and machairs, then it requires Bunting's engagement with questions of politics, religion history, culture and our emotional responses... [A] splendid, precise and gracious book
Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday
Rich in detail, richer in writing: the elegiac Love of Country is one of the year's best, taking Madeleine Bunting through her old Hebridean haunts
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