Travelling the length and breadth of Britain, James Canton pursues his obsession with the physical traces of the ancient world: stone circles, flint arrowheads, sacred stones, gold, and a lost Roman road. He ponders the features of the natural world that occupied ancient minds: the night sky, shooting stars, the rising and setting sun. Wandering to the farthest reaches of the islands, he finds an undeciphered standing stone north of Aberdeen and follows the first footsteps on the edge of a long-lost Ice Age land in the North Sea.
As Canton walks the modern terrain, slowly understanding the ancient signs that lie within and beneath it, he weaves a gentle tale of discovery, showing how, beyond the superficial differences of lifestyle and culture, the ancient inhabitants of the British Isles were much closer to the present-day ones than we might imagine.
Praise for James Canton's Out of Essex:
"Some landscapes are silent, others as eager to communicate as the shades in Homer's underworld. But not everyone has the gift of hearing what they are saying. James Canton's involvement with Essex is long and deep, and in this book of walking, remembering, and reflecting, he picks up echoes from many writers who are connected to its villages, towns and surrounding countryside.... His pilgrimage to the past is full of surprises and always enjoyable, as he reinvigorates the familiar scene and recovers unfamiliar associations." (Marina Warner, chair of the Man Booker International Prize 2015)
"Canton...is a stalker of literary ghosts, following traces across the Essex countryside that might lead him to the writers who might have lived and worked among these landscapes." (Times Literary Supplement)
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By mazc on 07-01-18
Ups and Downs like the paths he walks
What did you like best about this story?
The range and breadth of how he writes about finds and facts, e.g. how it impacts him personally, the characters involved, the stories that go along with it all.
What about James Canton’s performance did you like?
He has a very delicate approach which matches what in some parts is quite a whimsical take on the author's experiences.
If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?
Exploring and Experience
Any additional comments?
I really liked this book, but it seemed a bit up and down in terms of how it took my interest. Some bits were really impressive and most was very interesting, but a few bits sunk into wiffle waffle and lacked the 'grounding' -- pun intended! -- in terms of his take on his experiences which the majority of the book conveys.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
By mrmalaya on 23-04-18
Painful plodding through the past
This potentially could have worked. No, it would have worked but for the author's reading style.
There are some interesting notions, but the combination of unqualified musings and surging vocal style make the whole thing very painful to listen too. The book itself is probably easier to work with, but I can't help but feel that the whole experience would have been transformed with a reading containing more gravitas than whimsy.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful