This is an unusual, inspirational book. It?s about allotment gardening, but its not just a book of good growing advice (though there?s plenty of that). The first clue is in the subtitle: ?Life, Land and the Pursuit of Happiness?. Its author is a financial journalist, and the themes of ownership and value run through the book. I?m someone who regards the financial pages as instant compost fodder, so it?s a testament to the power of her writing that these sections held me as spellbound as the bits about compost. Her thesis is simple: allotments are a powerful metaphor for, and a powerful way of getting back in touch with, the things that really matter. ?They teach us that the only asset that we do really own, is what we do with time we are allotted, while our season lasts. That?s it. That?s the bottom line. We are what we grow, and we can be as rich as we feel.?
This book grew out of the columns Antonia Swinson wrote about her Edinburgh allotment for New Consumer and then for the Scotsman. Like many books which rework newspaper columns, there are compromises; it?s arranged seasonally, but the individual columns span several years, so the perspective shifts from novice to seasoned gardener and back again. This can be forgiven. A good column is a uniquely satisfying thing, and this book is a wonderful resource to dip into. Antonia Swinson writes lyrically and engagingly, whether she?s discussing Adam Smith or heritage potatoes. Her book will make you rethink your work-life balance and put you back in touch with your inner gardener ? while providing some excellent advice on the big issues, like composting, along the way. Treat yourself to a copy.
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