Having started in the middle of this book, I’ve just passed the end and returned to the beginning.
Award-winning short story writer Sara Maitland released her book in November 2012 to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the Grimms’ first collection of fairy tales and stories. In the book, she walks a different British forest/woodland each month and writes a literary version of a related fairy tale.
Maitland’s knowledge and understanding of our native British woodlands is both first class and first-hand. She states in her book that you can’t know a wood by reading about it, and she shows that she has an intimate and deep connection with the various forests she visits in the changing months and seasons. Her wealth of information and above all, passion and love, of the forests really brings them to life and sparks a desire to go out and get to know my own local landscape all the more. She shows how important it is to get children into the woodland, and gives several suggestions of how this might be achieved for everyone’s benefit.
She also has a deep wisdom of the stories she tells. Again, she says you can’t know a story by reading about it alone – and she shows that she knows these stories as deeply and intimately as she knows the woods. She’s lived and breathed them, embodied and ensouled them. Maitland has won awards for her short story writing, and has recently had three of her fairy tale stories read aloud on Radio 4, but it doesn’t matter how many times she tells or retells them, she always seems to find a fresher, deeper, newer understanding of these ancient tales.
This book is a rich and sumptuous collection of Matiland’s favourite stories and favourite woodlands, with insightful links between them.
The first chapter is Maitland’s walk through Airyolland Wood in March – so if you want to read this book from beginning to end, now’s the time to start it!