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View Poll Results: What labourious book shall we undertake to read in September?
The Shepherd's Life: A Tale of the Lake District by James Rebanks 5 83.33%
Shirley by Charlotte Brontë 3 50.00%
A Month in the Country by J. L. Carr 4 66.67%
My Life in France by Julia Child 4 66.67%
Forty Fathoms Deep by Ion L. Idriess 3 50.00%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 6. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 08-07-2019, 07:05 AM   #1
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Vote for September 2019 • Labour of Love: Working Class


Let's select the book we'll read and discuss in September 2019.

We love new participants. We're happy for you to vote, but we'd like to request that you not vote unless you plan to join the discussion whatever the selection, in the interest of a vibrant conversation. So if you haven't posted in a book club thread yet, do please say a quick hello here or in the Welcome thread.


This is a poll. Vote for as many books as you'd like. Questions? FAQs | Guidelines Or just ask!

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The Shepherd's Life: A Tale of the Lake District by James Rebanks
Amazon US $9.99
Spoiler:
Quote:
The Shepherd's Life: A Tale of the Lake District is an autobiographical book by James Rebanks, a sheep farmer from Matterdale, Cumbria, England, published by Allen Lane in 2015.

Rebanks writes that he was moved and inspired by another book with almost the same title, A Shepherd's Life by W.H. Hudson, who wrote about sheep-farming in Wiltshire in the early years of the 20th century.

Rebanks describes the traditional way of life of shepherds on the Cumbrian fells and vales, and his determination to continue to farm where generations of his forebears had done.
306 pp.

Shirley by Charlotte Brontë
Public domain everywhere
Spoiler:
Quote:
Following the tremendous popular success of Jane Eyre, which earned her lifelong notoriety as a moral revolutionary, Charlotte Brontë vowed to write a sweeping social chronicle that focused on "something real and unromantic as Monday morning." Set in the industrializing England of the Napoleonic wars and Luddite revolts of 1811-12, Shirley (1849) is the story of two contrasting heroines. One is the shy Caroline Helstone, who is trapped in the oppressive atmosphere of a Yorkshire rectory and whose bare life symbolizes the plight of single women in the nineteenth century. The other is the vivacious Shirley Keeldar, who inherits a local estate and whose wealth liberates her from convention.
500 pp.

A Month in the Country by J L Carr
$US8.99, $C11.19, $A12.99, £4.99
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In J. L. Carr's deeply charged poetic novel, Tom Birkin, a veteran of the Great War and a broken marriage, arrives in the remote Yorkshire village of Oxgodby where he is to restore a recently discovered medieval mural in the local church. Living in the bell tower, surrounded by the resplendent countryside of high summer, and laboring each day to uncover an anonymous painter's depiction of the apocalypse, Birkin finds that he himself has been restored to a new, and hopeful, attachment to life. But summer ends, and with the work done, Birkin must leave. Now, long after, as he reflects on the passage of time and the power of art, he finds in his memories some consolation for all that has been lost.
136 pp.

My Life in France by Julia Child
US$14, CA$14, AU$10
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Quote:
The bestselling story of Julia’s years in France. ..... Julia Child was not always a master chef. Indeed, when she first arrived in France in 1948 with her husband, Paul, who was to work for the USIS, she spoke no French and knew nothing about the country itself. But as she dove into French culture, buying food at local markets and taking classes at the Cordon Bleu, her life changed forever with her newfound passion for cooking and teaching. Julia’s unforgettable story—struggles with the head of the Cordon Bleu, rejections from publishers to whom she sent her now-famous cookbook, a wonderful, nearly fifty-year long marriage that took the Childs across the globe—unfolds with the spirit so key to Julia’s success as a chef and a writer
336 pp.

Forty Fathoms Deep by Ion L. Idriess
US$4.99, CA$5.99, £3.95, AU$6.37
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Quote:
Forty Fathoms Deep is part of the story of the pearl seas of north-western Australia. In all but a few instances, I have used names well known in the pearl world of Broome, but have taken care not to hurt susceptibilities. I am conscious I have only gleaned in a field rich with romance. There is material for many books in the adventurous lives of the men who have built up the history and industry of Broome. It is to be hoped that someone more persuasive than I will induce them to sit down and write, or, failing that, sit and talk for the enlightenment and entertainment of fellow Australians.

I am greatly indebted to numerous friends in Broome who have helped me with material and who went to such pains to get for me authentic data.

Hail and farewell, with a warm heart, to Con and old Sebaro, and to all the divers and tenders and seamen who were so patient at explaining the many things I desired to see and know.

To all, a fair wind and a hungry market when the fleets put to sea!

ION L. IDRIESS.
220 pp.
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Old 08-07-2019, 08:31 AM   #2
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I eliminated Carr as I've read it and Idriess because I can't get it from the library, leaving three for which I've voted. In fact, I'll be fine with any of the five nominations.
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Old 08-07-2019, 02:48 PM   #3
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Interestingly, the Idriess is not available from AmazonUS. But is from AmazonCA. Though this is one of the few cases where it's cheaper at Kobo. (And no, it's not available at either of my libraries, though it could be recommended. )

Not having read the Carr, I went with it. And the Bronte has only the virtue of being free to recommend it, for me, though I'll read it if it wins.
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Old 08-07-2019, 04:27 PM   #4
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Not having read the Carr, I went with it. And the Bronte has only the virtue of being free to recommend it, for me, though I'll read it if it wins.
I read another novel by Charlotte B a few years ago, Villette, and I loved it, even more than Jane Eyre; it made my ten-best list. So I'd be all over Shirley.
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Old 08-08-2019, 01:09 PM   #5
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It’s a fun slate. I couldn’t limit myself to just 50% this time. Which is illogical, since with just five options, it’s practically like cancelling my vote.
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Old 08-08-2019, 02:06 PM   #6
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I’m fine with any of these which is why I haven’t voted yet. There is only one on the list that I’ve already read.
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Old 08-10-2019, 07:30 AM   #7
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So it's sheepdogs for September!
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Old 08-10-2019, 11:46 AM   #8
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Hate to say this, but if these sheep are being raised for slaughter, I can't read it.
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Old 08-10-2019, 02:24 PM   #9
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I am really looking forward to this book. A few years ago I had the wonderful experience to spend a beautiful spring day touring the Lake District with friends from the US who grew up in northern England and Scotland. Specifically, one was raised on a Lake District farm which bred cattle and raised sheep. I asked if she knew this book. She has indeed read it and says that it is very good. She says the portrayal of farming life is "spot on". She knows this farm and some of the people in the book. I was surprised to learn that James Rebanks's farm is only 3 miles from her childhood farm and in the same parish area that we visited!

On our day trip we saw the farm where she lived, did a short walk through country lanes and climbed up the fell, visited the old village church where they were married, and had a lovely lunch in an old pub next to Ullswater Lake. It was so very green and mountainous. Stunningly beautiful and so different from the other areas across England that I have visited. Because it was May and the lambing season is in April, there were sheep everywhere across the landscape. I will share a few photos. Some look similar to the cover of the book.
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Old 08-10-2019, 03:13 PM   #10
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Hate to say this, but if these sheep are being raised for slaughter, I can't read it.
This book is a realistic portrayal of farm life and it does discuss slaughter. Sheep are raised with many purposes including shearing, grazing and food production. Herdwick sheep from the Lake District have a distinct taste and were served at Queen Elizabeth II's 1953 coronation banquet. In 2013 they received an EU Protected Designation of Origin (like Champagne in France).

James Rebanks has a wonderful Instagram feed. His profile says "Shepherd. Writer. Nature-friendly farming. Lake District." He wrote another book which you may enjoy better. The Shepherd's View: Modern Photographs From an Ancient Landscape was published in 2016.

From Amazon US:
Quote:
From The New York Times bestselling author of The Shepherd’s Life, a breathtaking book of photography and wisdom that chronicles an ancient way of living that deeply resonates in our modern world. With over eighty full color photographs The English Lake District comes into full focus: the sheep competitions of the spring, the sweeping pastures of the summer, beloved sheep dogs in the fall and the harsh snows of winter. A celebration of a way of life still very much alive, The Shepherd’s View is a poetic, and artistic achievement from one of England’s most celebrated new voices.
Another related book about the area that I would like to read is Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature by Linda Lear. James Rebanks wrote the foreword to the anniversary edition.

From Amazon US:
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In this now classic biography, reissued in a new edition for the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter's birth, Linda Lear offers the astonishing portrait of an extraordinary woman who gave us some of the most beloved children's books of all time. Potter found freedom from her conventional Victorian upbringing in the countryside. Nature inspired her imagination as an artist and scientific illustrator, but The Tale of Peter Rabbit brought her fame, financial success, and the promise of happiness when she fell in love with her editor Norman Warne. After his tragic and untimely death, Potter embraced a new life as the owner of Hill Top Farm in the English Lake District and a second chance at happiness. As a visionary landowner, successful farmer and sheep-breeder, she was able to preserve the landscape that had inspired her art.
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Old 08-10-2019, 03:27 PM   #11
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It’s a fun slate. I couldn’t limit myself to just 50% this time. Which is illogical, since with just five options, it’s practically like cancelling my vote.
I so want to read all of these books! My Life in France is the one that I have already read. I read it after watching the movie Julie & Julia starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. I recommend you read the book and watch the movie if you haven't.
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Old 08-10-2019, 04:57 PM   #12
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This book is a realistic portrayal of farm life and it does discuss slaughter. Sheep are raised with many purposes including shearing, grazing and food production.
I was afraid of this. I really can't read this. I get the images in my head and can't get them out.

And before anyone wonders, I am a vegetarian, I don't wear fur or leather, I avoid animal products, etc.
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Old 08-11-2019, 04:00 PM   #13
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We enjoy Penelope Keith’s Hidden Villages television show. It is simply delightful to watch. In Series 2 Epsiode 2, she visits Cumbria.

From IMDB:
Quote:
The actress learns about life in the renowned landscape of Cumbria. The wonder of the Lake District cannot be ignored, but from Morecambe Bay to the Pennines, Penny finds there is much more to life in a Cumbrian village than tourists and tea shops, and all of it owes a great deal to the dramatic local geography. Along the way she meets a community buying its local mountain, indulges in the unique Cumbrian pursuit of hound trailing and visits the home of Sticky Toffee Pudding.
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Old 08-11-2019, 05:58 PM   #14
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I haven’t come across that programme, and can imagine it would be interesting. We had a great holiday in the UK some years ago chasing up our “ancestral homes”, ie a number of villages in Sussex and Hertfordshire where we had various agricultural labourers back in the 19th and early 20th century. We also met up with various distant cousins discovered through doing family history.
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Old 08-11-2019, 07:17 PM   #15
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It's a charming series. She meets with locals and talks about the traditions and history of the area. The type of TV show that just makes you smile and feel good about people and communities compared to so much ugliness in the news and on social media.
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