The Consolation of Nature:
Spring in the Time of Coronavirus
Michael McCarthy, Jeremy Mynott and Peter Marren
15th October 2020
Hodder Studio hardback, £14.99
Also available as an audiobook and ebook.
A moving and intimate portrait of nature during the lockdown spring of 2020 – the first book to document the environmental impact of this world-historical event
‘These three distinguished writers are all steeped in the natural world, yet each is of highly individual sensibility and comes from a very distinct part of the country. For all the differences between them, they have produced a book of fundamental unity with a singular conclusion: that coronavirus and all its consequences reveal the central importance of nature to the British as a nation and to humans as a species. Their message could not be more timely.’
‘The book is an entrancing testament to nature’s power to restore us to ourselves. To read it is to open your eyes to everything around you, from an egg-laying butterfly to the value of cowpats. In the company of three generous naturalists, you wander down a Lovers’ Lane of close observation plus humane imagination, into the tangled bank of wild and hidden life that still goes on, despite all we have done to it, in our countryside and parks. The Consolation of Nature is a consolation in itself.’
‘A powerful and moving reflection on the solace brought by nature and its power as a balm for stressed-out lives… as McCarthy points out, access to green space is unevenly distributed, with millions, especially in poorer areas, missing out.’
Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP
‘What joy – three of our greatest nature writers in one book! What they felt under lockdown is surely what we all felt, that primal need to be out in nature – balm for body and soul. There’s acute and beautiful observation on every page, thrown into exquisite relief by the poignancy of the circumstances. Against the backdrop of anxiety and doubt, their experiences bear witness to the inspiring and ever-hopeful lesson that nature can heal itself – and us – if we let it.’
Isabella Tree, author of the bestseller Wilding
‘As expected from these three authors, it is beautifully written, but it is also extremely evocative.’
Martin Harper, Global Conservation Director of the RSPB
‘This has to go into many Book of the Year lists – it is so beautifully written.’
Mark Avery, Britain’s premier wildlife blogger
‘The best tribute to spring since Edward Thomas’s In Pursuit of Spring… A spell-binding paean to the best and worst spring ever which shows how deeply Nature absorbs, stimulates and nurtures us.’
Nature’s worth and consoling power is one of the greatest lessons of the coronavirus, says first book on the pandemic and the environment.
One of the greatest lessons of the year of the coronavirus is the value of nature to all of us, according to the first major book on the covid-19 pandemic and the environment.
It is the natural world above all which is helping enormous numbers of people get through the difficult months of disease and lockdown and stress, according to The Consolation of Nature – Spring in the Time of Coronavirus, by Michael McCarthy, Jeremy Mynott and Peter Marren.
The three well-known nature writers, close friends but living in widely separated, contrasting parts of the country, have produced a stunning account of the spring of 2020, which was probably Britain’s most remarkable spring ever.
In an astonishing and tragic paradox, it was not only the period of the lockdown, and of the worst of the calamitous disease, but also the most beautiful springtime ever recorded, with more sunshine than any previous comparable season.
While life in the human world was hitting the buffers, life in the natural world was flourishing as never before – and many thousands of people turned to it for relief, the three writers show, in one of the most lyrical and minutely-detailed portraits of a spring ever produced.
The Consolation of Nature treats the pandemic in the context of the larger challenges to the natural world and what may be our last opportunity to respond with green solutions.
Michael McCarthy is one of Britain’s leading environmental journalists, formerly environment correspondent of The Times and environment editor of The Independent. He has won a string of awards for his writing, including the Medal of the RSPB, for ‘outstanding services to conservation.’ His book Say Goodbye to the Cuckoo (2009), a study of Britain’s summer migrant birds, was widely praised; The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy (2015) was shortlisted for the Wainwright Prize and the Richard Jefferies Prize.
Jeremy Mynott is the author of several books on wildlife and nature. Birdscapes: birds in our experience and imagination (2009) was described by one reviewer as ‘the finest book ever written on why we watch birds’. His latest book, Birds in the Ancient World: Winged Words (2018), was shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize and was a TLS ‘Book of the Year’. He is a classical scholar, Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge and former Chief Executive of Cambridge University Press.
Peter Marren is a nature writer and commentator, author of Bugs Britannica, Rainbow Dust, Chasing the Ghost and many other books on British plants, insects, and the countryside. He won the BSBI President’s Prize for Britain’s Rare Flowers, which was also runner-up for the Natural World Book Prize. He was awarded the Thackray Medal for The New Naturalists by the Society for the History of Natural History. His satirical column in British Wildlife magazine, Twitcher in the Swamp, has a cult following.
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