I love the natural world and whilst my wildlife holidays to far flung places are on hold it has been a real pleasure to discover wildlife through my reading instead. My grateful thanks to Alison Menzies at Elliot and Thompson for sending me a copy of Into the Tangled Bank by Lev Parikian in return for an honest review.
Into the Tangled Bank will be published by Elliot and Thompson on 9th July 2020 and is available for pre-order through these links.
Into the Tangled Bank
Lev Parikian is on a journey to discover the quirks, habits and foibles of how the British experience nature. Open a window, hear the birds calling and join him.
It’s often said that the British are a nation of nature lovers; but what does that really mean? For some it’s watching racer snakes chase iguanas on TV as David Attenborough narrates, a visit to the zoo to convene with the chimps; for others it’s a far-too-ambitious clamber up a mountain, the thrilling spectacle of a rare bird in flight.
Lev Parikian sets out to explore the many, and particular, ways that he, and we, experience the natural world beginning face down on the pavement outside his home, then moving outwards to garden, local patch, wildlife reserve, craggy coastline and as far afield as the dark hills of Skye. He visits the haunts of famous nature lovers reaching back to the likes of Charles Darwin, Etta Lemon, Gavin Maxwell, John Clare and Emma Turner to examine their insatiable curiosity and follow in their footsteps.
And everywhere he meets not only nature, but nature lovers of all varieties: ramblers, dog-walkers, photographers; loving couples, striding singles, families; kite-flyers, den-builders, grass-loungers; young whippersnappers, old codgers, middle-aged ne’er-do-wells; beginners, specialists, all-rounders; or just people out for a stroll in the sun.
Warm, humorous and full of telling detail, Into the Tangled Bank puts the idiosyncrasies of how we are in nature under the microscope. And in doing so, it reveals how our collective relationship with nature has changed over the centuries, what our actions mean for nature and what being a nature lover in Britain might mean today.
My review of Into the Tangled Bank
One man’s foray into the world of British nature.
I genuinely think Into the Tangled Bank should be put on prescription for anyone suffering depression or loneliness because it is an absolute tonic of a book that creates happiness in the very soul of the reader. I adored it. My strength of emotional reaction comes partly because it made me feel closer to my much missed Dad. He would have loved every word of Into the Tangled Bank. Dad introduced me to the natural world and he’d have delighted in this book as much as I have. I especially enjoyed the When Nature Changes chapter because John Clare’s Helpston is the next village along from where I live in one direction and Northborough is the next along in another. Reading Into the Tangled Bank gave me a personal, human connection of the kind we all need in these uncertain times.
Into the Tangled Bank is enormously enlightening. I learnt all kinds of facts, not just about wildlife, but people from history, places and so on – quite frequently through the hugely entertaining footnotes. I think my poor husband wished I’d shut up as I kept reading snippets of information out to him that I’d found unusual, that resonated with me or that I felt described him, never mind Lev Parikian, with absolute precision. I felt I got to know the author as an individual too – and I liked him very much. His frustrations with other humans like ‘Massive Lens Guy’, his conversational style, his self-awareness and his absolutely brilliant writing made me wish I could meet him in real life and chat with him about the book.
Lev Parikian’s writing style is, quite frankly, sublime. It’s beautiful and poetic. It’s realistic and dramatic. He has the ability to convey as much meaning in a two word paragraph as he does in longer sections. It’s engaging and I hadn’t been prepared for how funny it is too. Again the footnotes come into play here where his wry observations, direct appeals to the reader and asides are fabulous. I must confess that I know little about cricket, and the Interlude is less in keeping with the other chapters in Into the Tangled Bank, but I laughed until I wept reading its ending, despite the stark description of the state of the planet.
Into the Tangled Bank is the perfect antidote to the ills of the world because it’s funny, enlightening and very entertaining. It would make a glorious present for any nature lover because it brings alive the world in which we live. It would appeal to any observer of humanity as Lev Parikian’s observations are pithy and insightful and he manages to articulate exactly what so many of us think and feel. Into the Tangled Bank is a glorious book. Don’t miss it.
About Lev Parikian
Lev Parikian is a writer, birdwatcher and conductor. His book Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear? was published by Unbound in 2018. He lives in West London with his family, who are getting used to his increasing enthusiasm for nature. As a birdwatcher, his most prized sightings are a golden oriole in the Alpujarras and a black redstart at Dungeness Power Station.