The Shepherd's Life

  • by James Rebanks
  • Narrated by Bryan Dick
  • 7 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The instant number-one international best seller.
Some people's lives are entirely their own creations. James Rebanks' isn't. He's the first son of a shepherd who was the first son of a shepherd himself; his family have lived and worked in the Lake District of Northern England for generations, further back than recorded history. It's a part of the world known mainly for its romantic descriptions by Wordsworth and the much-loved illustrated children's books of Beatrix Potter.
But James' world is quite different. His way of life is ordered by the seasons and the work they demand. It hasn't changed for hundreds of years: sending the sheep to the fells in the summer and making the hay; the autumn fairs where the flocks are replenished; the grueling toil of winter when the sheep must be kept alive, and the lightheadedness that comes with spring, as the lambs are born and the sheep get ready to return to the hills and valleys.
The Shepherd's Life is the story of a deep-rooted attachment to place, modern dispatches from an ancient landscape that describe a way of life that is little noticed and yet has profoundly shaped the landscape over time. In evocative and lucid prose, James Rebanks takes us through a shepherd's year, offering a unique account of rural life and a fundamental connection with the land that most of us have lost. It is a story of working lives, the people around him, his childhood, his parents and grandparents, a people who exist and endure even as the culture - of the Lake District and of farming - changes around them. Many memoirs are of people working desperately hard to leave a place. This is the story of someone trying desperately hard to stay.

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What the Critics Say

"It's bloody marvelous." (Helen Macdonald, New York Times best-selling author of H Is for Hawk)
"Captivating.... A book about continuity and roots and a sense of belonging in an age that's increasingly about mobility and self-invention. Hugely compelling." (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

The Author Wears His Life As A Heavy Mantle

To me this book is burdened by a strong and at times harsh sense of judgmental and contentious attitudes, personal stands and beliefs. The story is not linear but instead circles around and around the same tales told and issues redressed. Due to this style of writing the reader hears the same themes repeated--intensely--with a force that made me wince.

There are moments of beauty in the writing--but these were not enough to counter the general feeling of hostility that rushes out at the listener as the book progresses. Some of this may be due to the tone of the narrator. However, I think in the end it is the message not the messenger that gave me pause. To me, an angry and sad book that is more about blame and setting the record straight than anything else.

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- Sara "Avid Reader"

A good story, well told

I have an Australian Shepherd dog and thought whimsically that this would be a fun book to read -- even if it were awful, I would hear stories about dogs herding sheep. I was SO surprised to be completely swept up into the story and looking forward to every minute I spent with it. The narrator has the right accent and reads very well so the story moves effortlessly through all the different examinations of this world I knew nothing about in part of England that had originally introduced to me by Arthur Ransome in his children's books.

James Rebanks has passion for his work, the ability to communicate that passion and do it with excellent writing and insights. Yes, I did enjoy the part about the dogs but now have a great deal of interest and background in sheep -- a species I have always loved anyway. Don't let this one slip by.
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- Molly-o "English major. Love to read"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-22-2015
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio