25/04/2007

Running for the Hills (by Horatio Clare)

I was recommended and lent this book by someone who thoroughly enjoyed it. Horatio Clare has written a memoir: carefully constructed from his own recollection, conversations he's had and diaries he's read. He charts the time when his parents, young and idealistic, bought a rather run-down farm in Wales and attempted to make it work.

It was indeed a very well-written book, full of careful observations and would probably be of great interest to anyone who likes farms, or who is interested in biographies in general. Unfortunately, I'm not one of them. I like biographies that have a lot of human interest - with a bit of humour too, if possible - such as those by James Herriot or Gervase Phinn.

But there was very little of that in 'Running for the Hills'. Instead there were detailed descriptions of farming life, some of it rather horrific, and a strangely dispassionate account of the disintegration of the author's parents' marriage.

I found myself struggling to hold interest in the first few chapters, waiting for something to happen. Then I began skimming to find more 'story'. Then I skimmed faster... I'm quite good at skimming, so I did spot a few passages where the children related to one of their parents, and quite enjoyed those parts. But I probably skimmed at least two-thirds of the book, and found it all rather sad in the end.

For those who like biographies it's a highly acclaimed book, and I certainly thought it was very well-written. There just wasn't anything much to hold my interest personally.

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