Synopses & Reviews
The New York Times bestseller and International Phenomenon
One of the Top Ten Books of 2015, Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times.
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, his family have lived and worked in the Lake District of Northern England for generations, further back than recorded history. It's a part of the world known mainly for its romantic descriptions by Wordsworth and the much loved illustrated children's books of Beatrix Potter. But James' world is quite different. His way of life is ordered by the seasons and the work they demand. It hasn't changed for hundreds of years: sending the sheep to the fells in the summer and making the hay; the autumn fairs where the flocks are replenished; the grueling toil of winter when the sheep must be kept alive, and the light-headedness that comes with spring, as the lambs are born and the sheep get ready to return to the hills and valleys.
The Shepherd's Life is the story of a deep-rooted attachment to place, modern dispatches from an ancient landscape that describe a way of life that is little noticed and yet has profoundly shaped the landscape over time. 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, his parents and grandparents, a people who exist and endure even as the culture - of the Lake District, and of farming - changes around them.
Many memoirs are of people working desperately hard to leave a place. This is the story of someone trying desperately hard to stay.
“Rebanks’s family has farmed sheep in the hills of the lake District, in northwestern England, for some six centuries. The work, detailed lovingly in this memoir, has changed little… Rebanks is concerned with the survival of the landscape, of the life that it has fostered, and of its inhabitants’ view of the world.” The New Yorker
“Captivating... A book about continuity and roots and a sense of belonging in an age that's increasingly about mobility and self-invention. Hugely compelling” Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“It's bloody marvelous.” Helen Macdonald, New York Times bestselling author of H IS FOR HAWK
About the Author
James Rebanks runs a family-owned farm in the Lake District in northern England. A graduate of Oxford University, James works as an expert advisor to UNESCO on sustainable tourism. He uses his popular Twitter feed - @herdyshepherd1 - to share updates on the shepherding year. The Shepherd's Life is his first book.