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On Gallows Down

"Taking in social history and the author’s profound impulse to protect the rural landscape, this brilliant blend of memoir and nature writing weaves a stirring story of resistance and hope."

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LoveReading Says

LoveReading Says

This is a memoir about family, motherhood, environmental protest and most importantly nature. It’s full of evocative sights, sounds and smells of the North Wessex Downs (coincidentally where Unsettled Ground is also set). Nicola charts the beginnings of her awareness of what was happening to the nature around her during the 1980s and the protests at Greenham Common and then later her involvement in the movements to stop the desecration of Twyford Down and the construction of the Newbury bypass. Throughout the course of the book Nicola discovers who she is, what changes she can personally bring about in the landscape, and how to raise her children to be aware of the world around them. While this is a political book, it is the truly stunning writing that brings it alive and made me feel that, alongside Nicola, I was also watching the badger cubs and the moles, seeing the red kites circle, and hearing the nightingale, and most of all, waiting with her for the cuckoo’s return.

Selected by Claire Fuller, Our Autumn 2022 Guest Editor. Click here to read the full Guest Editor Piece.

 

Passionate and poetically compelling, Nicola Chester’s On Gallows Down is a rich and rewarding must-read for nature-lovers, and for readers who adored H is for Hawk

Charting a life lived in - and through - rural landscapes, Chester writes with a painterly eye. Her descriptions of nature and wildlife are staggeringly evocative - sensory, but never overblown or sentimental. Rather, her style has an elegant, measured beauty as she tells a personal story of protest and resistance, of a profound connection to the earth and nature, to offer a story of hope and connectedness in fractured times.

Chester shares her experiences during the days of the Greenham Common protests, her experiences as a new mother rearing her children in the ways and words of nature, and her journey to protesting environmental destruction, a journey she’s still consummately committed to. Birds, especially, play a vital and beautiful role in the book, as they do in the author’s life - their migratory cycles, their movement and influence, her fights to combat the destruction of habitats. Moving, stirring, stuff.

Joanne Owen

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