Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

THE JANUARY MAN: A Year of Walking in Britain

THE JANUARY MAN: A Year of Walking in Britain
06 Mar
2018
by Christopher Somerville  •  Black Swan Publishing  •  £9.99 (paperback)

At first, it seems Somerville’s book is an ordinary walking guide. With 12 walks (one for each month of the year) it revels in landscapes and wildlife. However, with a cast of otherworldly characters, it becomes clear this book is truly about people. There are the Hoyles farmers, who with the latest glittering tech and machines, try to harvest the same amount that their fathers could without. There’s Deryck, possibly the last person to fish for salmon in the Severn estuary with an old-fashioned putcher basket. There’s Slipper, a lone figure digging in the Norfolk mudflats. For every character Somerville describes, there’s a Dickensian level of detail that could only have been gathered in person. It’s enchanting to know that there are people in Britain that might reply ‘I’m just finishing this fag, and then I’m going to dig for some old lugworms,’ if asked nicely enough.

As well as these 12 routes, there is a longer hike going on in the background. Snippets come through of the author’s relationship with his father. As a child, Somerville’s father is barely on the horizon. He’s faraway and mysterious, the kind of parent who when asked, replies ‘I work in an office’.

Come the August walk, Somerville arrives at an honest, adult friendship with his parent, who finally divulges his job (appropriately, over a pint during a walk). When Somerville describes the full nature of his father’s job and role in World War II, his writing becomes uncharacteristically straight and sombre, without embellishment. A powerful moment in a thoughtful book.

Click here to purchase The January Man: A Year of Walking in Britain by Christopher Somerville

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...

Films

The inside story about The Cave – the first feature…

Books

by Laura Waters • Affirm Press (via bookdepository.com) • £16.61 (paperback)

Books

by John Halpern, MD and David Blistein • Hachette Book…

Books

by Gavin Thurston • Seven Dials • £16.99 (hardback)

Books

by Jon Gertner • Icon Books • £18.99 (hardback)

Books

by Justin Marozzi • Allen Lane • £25 (hardback)

Exhibitions

The Great Animal Orchestra combines the audio recordings of bioacoustics…

Films

Hotel Mumbai shares a true story of heroism in the…

Films

A moving coming-of-age story about a young black man’s struggle…

Books

by Raja Shehadeh • Profile Books • £14.99 (hardback)

Books

by Caroline Crampton • Granta Books • £14.99 (hardback)

Books

by Alastair Humphreys • Harper Collins • £14.99 (hardback)

Books

by Ben Aitken • Icon Books • £12.99 (paperback)

Books

by Edward O Wilson • Allen Lane • £17.99 (paperback)

Books

by David Eimer • Bloomsbury • £20 (hardback)

Films

The uplifting story of a remarkable man who sailed the…

Books

by John Higgs • Weidenfeld & Nicolson • £20/£11 (hardback/eBook)

Books

by Lewis Dartnell • Bodley Head • £18.99 (hardback)

Books

by Richard Williams • Polity Books • £15.99 (paperback)