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From the publisher
‘A brilliant book about another side of working-class life, not a tower block in sight. Clever and honest, tackling slavery, loss and aspiration with humour and candour. I loved it’ KIT DE WAAL
‘A wonderful book, beautifully conceived’ ADAM NICOLSON
‘Thoughtful, moving, honest’ CAL FLYN
Work in the countryside ties you, soul and salary, to the land, but often those who labour in nature have the least control over what happens there.
Starting with Rebecca Smith’s own family history – foresters in Cumbria, miners in Derbyshire, millworkers in Nottinghamshire, builders of reservoirs and the Manchester Ship Canal – Rural is an exploration of our green and pleasant land, and the people whose labour has shaped it.
Beautifully observed, these are the stories of professions and communities that often go overlooked. Smith shows the precarity for those whose lives are entangled in the natural landscape. And she traces how these rural working-class worlds have changed. As industry has transformed – mines closing, country estates shrinking, farmers struggling to make profit on a pint of milk, holiday lets increasing so relentlessly that local people can no longer live where they were born – we are led to question the legacy of the countryside in all our lives.
This is a book for anyone who loves and longs for the countryside, whose family owes something to a bygone trade, or who is interested in the future of rural Britain.