Sunday book review – Summer edited by Melissa Harrison

51z+j9nWlYL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_It must be summer because I am picking elderflowers from which to make champagne. Spring is over, and if you are a birder then you are now in the position of suspecting that any passage wader on your local patch is already heading south after a nest failure (it’s really already autumn!).

This anthology is one of the three siblings to Spring previously reviewed here. It’s the same model and the same editor and gives a similar amount of pleasure.

At the risk of repeating myself (but you’ll either not have seen it or forgotten it, I know) I enjoyed the modern writers in this volume as much as the ‘famous’ writers included too. Having enjoyed her piece in Spring I sought out Nicola Chester in here and she didn’t disappoint,. Young Zach Haynes writes well of a local pair of rare birds and his remark ‘There is no way of knowing when they will be back again, so I spent a good while watching them‘ could apply to all wildlife sightings.

The big names included here include George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Gilbert White, Laurie Lee and Charles Dickens. But the range of voices and perspectives is broad and pleasing.

Just remember ‘the richest, fullest time of year is when June is wearing to an end when one knows without the almanac that spring is over and gone‘ but who wrote that and which county did he, for it was a he, assign as the place to enjoy it?

Considering that spring is the best, the very best, easily the best, by far the best, season, I think summer just edges it in the quality of writing.

If we have a summer, grab this book, a cool drink, a sun hat and a quiet place – and enjoy!


Summer: an anthology for the changing seasons, edited by Melissa Harrison, is published by The Wildlife Trusts.


Inglorious: conflict in the uplands by Mark Avery is published by Bloomsbury – for reviews see here.

Behind the Binoculars: interviews with acclaimed birdwatchers by Mark Avery and Keith Betton is published by Pelagic – here’s a review.

A Message from Martha by Mark Avery is published by Bloomsbury – for reviews see here.

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6 Replies to “Sunday book review – Summer edited by Melissa Harrison”

  1. At the risk of sounding pedantic Mark, your elderflower creation will be sparkling elderflower. 'Champagne' is only produced in the eponymous French region by three specific grape varieties.

    No doubt it will be delicious nonetheless!

  2. There's plenty more spring to come.
    The Wood Pigeon has achieved a remarkable behavioural adaptation to become one of our most successful birds. "... It is the largest of our pigeons and very beautiful ... there is an odd look in its eye which suggests perpetual astonishment."
    "I have noticed in certain birds a revival of song in the latter part of June ..."
    If Grey of Fallodon is not in this book he should be.

  3. I had to google that extract... and was sad to read the next sentence, "The cuckoo ceases to weary us with its incessant call". Far from wearying me, it's three years since I heard a cuckoo!


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