Within a single year Jim Perrin, the eminent writer on landscape and nature, suffered two catastrophes: his son committed suicide and his wife died of cancer. West does far more than record and explore these shattering experiences, however, for the very act of writing becomes for Perrin the cathartic means of working through his grief. And just as living close to nature and to the landscape had been central to his relationship with his son and is wife, observant walks and rock-climbs now become integral to his solitary journey towards healing, and enable him to understand better the trajectory of his own life from its beginnings.
In celebrating the lives of two well-loved individuals and mourning their deaths, West becomes a sustained meditation on the nature of life, loss and the process of grieving. The emotional, instinctive comfort that Perrin gains from wild places through the changing seasons is deepened by the understanding and intellectual solace he derives from his wide reading, from poetry to philosophy and theology, until finally he is able to glimpse joy even within the intensity of grief. Part autobiography weaving past, present and future, part poetic meditation with echoes of Rousseau and Thoreau, often anguished, often leavened with wit and laughter, West is a unique reflection on the human condition.
'Its hand grasps your heart so violently as to leave thumbprints.'