Monday, 9 June 2014

Book Review: Herbaceous by Paul Evans

‘Herbaceous’ is the first in a new series from rising star of independent publishing: Little Toller Books, whose passion for reviving forgotten classics of nature writing has developed into a gift for unearthing fresh, distinctive voices in the genre. Paul Evans’ personal pedigree is equally impressive with a résumé that includes gardener, performance poet, playwright and radio presenter, but who is perhaps most widely known for his long-running contributions to the Guardian’s Country Diary column. Within the pages of this slim volume is audacious, delicious writing: blurring prose and poetry, blending detailed observations of the natural world with skilled evisceration of the human condition. The book is eloquently organised (as well as elegantly illustrated in Kurt Jackson’s drawings) through the changing colours of the floral seasons, into short, self-titled chapters on selected species of herbaceous plants. The result is a secret garden of deep, dense word-foliage that deserves to be savoured slowly and visited repeatedly, where the seeds of wild ideas are nurtured through carefully tended language. Evans reveals himself as a master of expanded metaphors, embroidering subtle meaning onto vivid mental imagery, equally evoking emotions, curiosity and an exquisitely poignant sense of time and place.

Review for BBC Countryfile Magazine (August edition)