Today I’m joining the Book Blog Tour for Deeper Into The Wood by Ruth Pavey. Following the success of Ruth’s previous memoir A Wood of One’s Own, that introduced readers to her four acres of land and wood in the Somerset Levels, Ruth’s second book shares further stories, observations and challenges of managing her wood.
Over twenty years ago, Ruth Pavey bought four acres of scrub woodland above the Somerset Levels and set out to improve the lush haven for birds, insects and all manner of wildlife. Beneath the shade of the trees she spent two decades planting, she now reflects on the fate of her wood.
As steward, she has witnessed nature’s forces shifting and the abundance of species dwindling rapidly. When the rabbits suddenly vanished, she knew it was time to take a closer look at the undergrowth and what she could do to preserve the legacy of the wood for generations to come.
Deeper Into the Wood recounts a year in the life of an amateur naturalist working with wildlife experts to interpret the language of the land. Ruth’s hand-drawn illustrations accompany her lyrical prose, which demonstrates an appreciation for the local people and their history. This is one woman’s story of inspiration, conservation, and a love of place.
Living not far from the Mendips and Somerset Levels I was keen to read this local non-fiction memoir. The beautiful book cover, which is one of Ruth’s drawings, is also reflected throughout the book. The author shares hand-drawn illustrations of what she sees during the changing seasons.
At the beginning of the book, Ruth Pavey provides a useful introduction as to how she came to own woodland. Ruth’s second book provides an enchanting look at her four acre wood and the changes she sees.
I enjoyed reading about the wildlife in and around the wood. From hares to rabbits, all manor of birds and even the sheep employed to work their magic in the wood.
I love to arrive and find the sheep ensconced. They settle in quickly and get on with being sheep, drumming their pathways between their preferred spot up in Long Hill Orchard and lower down by the gate, where Laura, their keeper, puts out water and molasses-with-salt lick for them. To my eye they enliven the scene.
Each chapter also provides insight into Ruth’s research of the history and previous owners of her wood. Delving into the archives, interviewing locals, Ruth uncovers some fascinating history, local stories and geology about the area.
At times it is heart wrenching to read the disappearance of wildlife and plants. Ruth raises the serious issues we are facing with climate change and the impact we humans are having on nature and wildlife.
Following Ruth’s observations and honest opinions, it’s like reading a personal journal. You really get a sense of how she’s feeling throughout the year about her wood. Feelings of gratitude and respect for nature, as well as concerns about the future. It’s truly inspiring reading how Ruth continues to push forward, to care for and protect her little wood. Often calling on experts for guidance or advice, Ruth strives to learn more nature skills to help support the woodland.
As a serious gardener, Ruth’s writing contains lots of detailed descriptions on different species of plants, trees and wildlife, which at times I struggled to follow as a novice gardener. A quick search on Google soon helped me, as a novice, identify or visualise what Ruth was describing. This made for an interesting journey of discovery that I really enjoyed.
Three Take Aways
- Ruth shared the story and some interesting facts about the oldest remaining Bramley Apple Tree. This led me to discover that in 2002 The Tree Council selected 50 trees as The Great British Trees, in honour of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.
- Climate change is undoubtedly a main worrying factor for us all. However, Ruth’s observations have shown that the more immediate causes of loss are the destruction of natural habitats. Also, the effect of intensive agriculture, and of the international trade in live plants and animals
- It is recognised that a global problem needs tackling on a global scale. However, that shouldn’t stop us all doing what we can to contribute. At the end of the book Ruth shares a simple example of what we can all do to help. Insects are low down in the natural food chain, meaning they are vital. By allowing a patch of grass, or flowers to grow and go to seed, we can support nature and wildlife.
A thought provoking and inspiring account of one woman’s practical challenges and responsibilities of owning woodland in the UK.
A beautifully written, enchanting read. Ruth shares detailed descriptions of a year managing the woodland.
Although Deeper Into the Wood is Ruth’s second book, following on from A Wood of One’s Own, this can quite easily be read as a standalone book. I hadn’t discovered this author previously, but I had no problems reading book two.
This book would make a lovely gift for nature lovers and serious gardeners.
Where To Buy
Further Book Info
- Published Date: 27th May 2021 (Paperback + eBook)
- Publisher: Duckworth Books
- Page Count: 272
About The Author
Ruth Pavey is a writer and journalist.
She has written about contemporary fiction, art, craft and garden history for The Observer, The Guardian and The Independent. Now the Gardening Correspondent for the Ham & High (Hampstead and Highgate Express).
Ruth attended the Rusking School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford, and a selection of her illustrated works are included in A Wood of One’s Own, her debut memoir that was a Sunday Times Best Book of the Year and longlisted for the Wainwright prize.
Blog Tour Organised by
Random Things Tours
Thanks to Anne @randomttours for inviting me on the tour for Deeper Into The Wood. Also thanks to Ruth Pavey and Duckworth Books for my copy of the book for an honest review.
Related: Don’t miss Ruth Pavey’s previous book
A Wood of One’s Own – Ruth Pavey
After years spent living amid the thrum of London, Ruth Pavey yearned to reconnect with the British countryside and she endeavoured to realise her long-held dream of planting a wood.