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The Easternmost House

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Longlisted for the Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize Within the next three years, Juliet Blaxland’s home will be demolished, and the land where it now stands will crumble into the North Sea. In her numbered days living in the Easternmost House, Juliet fights to maintain the rural ways she grew up with, re-connecting with the beauty, usefulness and erratic terror of the natu Longlisted for the Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize Within the next three years, Juliet Blaxland’s home will be demolished, and the land where it now stands will crumble into the North Sea. In her numbered days living in the Easternmost House, Juliet fights to maintain the rural ways she grew up with, re-connecting with the beauty, usefulness and erratic terror of the natural world. The Easternmost House is a stunning memoir, describing a year on the Easternmost edge of England, and exploring how we can preserve delicate ecosystems and livelihoods in the face of rapid coastal erosion and environmental change.


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Longlisted for the Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize Within the next three years, Juliet Blaxland’s home will be demolished, and the land where it now stands will crumble into the North Sea. In her numbered days living in the Easternmost House, Juliet fights to maintain the rural ways she grew up with, re-connecting with the beauty, usefulness and erratic terror of the natu Longlisted for the Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize Within the next three years, Juliet Blaxland’s home will be demolished, and the land where it now stands will crumble into the North Sea. In her numbered days living in the Easternmost House, Juliet fights to maintain the rural ways she grew up with, re-connecting with the beauty, usefulness and erratic terror of the natural world. The Easternmost House is a stunning memoir, describing a year on the Easternmost edge of England, and exploring how we can preserve delicate ecosystems and livelihoods in the face of rapid coastal erosion and environmental change.

30 review for The Easternmost House

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    I live very close to the sea, close enough for the house to shake and sea spray to wash the widows when the full moon brings the highest of tides and there is a strong wind behind it; but with a road and a promenade separating us, and a house that has stood since the late 19th century, we feel safe and secure, for the rest of our lives at least. Juliet Blaxland’s house by the sea is rather less secure; and this book was sparked by a timely prompt, to which she responded: The house on the edge of t I live very close to the sea, close enough for the house to shake and sea spray to wash the widows when the full moon brings the highest of tides and there is a strong wind behind it; but with a road and a promenade separating us, and a house that has stood since the late 19th century, we feel safe and secure, for the rest of our lives at least. Juliet Blaxland’s house by the sea is rather less secure; and this book was sparked by a timely prompt, to which she responded: The house on the edge of the cliff was demolished this week, which means we are now the house of the edge of the cliff. She knows that her house will have to be demolished in a few years time, because the soft cliffs are crumbling under the relentless pressure of winds and tides, and so the land on which it stands will be undermined. This memoir of one of the last years spent in the house of the edge of the cliff takes the form of a journal, and each month there is an image, a well chosen piece of poetry and prose, all of the details of seasonal produce and events that you would expect a countrywoman to record – and the distance from the edge of the cliff and its change from the previous month. In some months there was no change at all, in other months there were visible losses, and over the course of the year the distance fell from 24 to 19 metres. The author wrote about that with wit and with grace. will not find the church of St. Nicholas, Easton Bavents, in your Pevsner guide to the buildings of Suffolk, nor will you you feel guilty when you repeatedly fail to be present in your pew as a regular member of the congregation, for you have the perfect excuse for missing matins on a Sunday morning: you are not a fish. As our parish church sits quietly on the seabed, part buried here, recognisable pieces of architecture there, perhaps a little buttress among the silvery bass swimming round the ruins beneath the waves, the memory of its existence adds to the sense of calm. The house on the edge of the cliff was rented, but she had grown up in the area; and this is a book about much, much more than that one house and coastal erosion. Each month’s journal records the world around her and considers a different subject. Some are clearly seasonal – there are winter storms, there is a summer night on the dunes, there is an attempt to create a crop circle – but there are others that simply reflect life in the country, and how some things have changed while others remain the same. The writing is rich and evocative, and it is also clear-sighted about the practical realities of living on the east coast and the prospects for the future. The coastal area that Juliet Blaxland knows and loves is in many ways different to my coastal home, but her writing has allowed me to come to know it well and to understand the depth of her feelings for the place she calls home. Her thoughts were wonderfully wide-ranging, she found so many different things to write about, but themes recurred: the acceptance that nature cannot always be controlled and that there are times when it much be allowed to go its own way; the the increasing speed of change and the importance of considering its consequences; and the ultimate realisation that even the longest of human lives is insignificant when compare with the lifetime of the setting of those lives. Sometimes my interest dipped a little, the quality of the writing was a little variable, but I was always engaged. I loved her voice, I loved that she was able to see beauty and charm in simple, everyday that many people wouldn’t notice, and I particularly loved that she saw hope for the future in the power of nature and the knowledge that tides must always turn. The physical book is a lovely thing, and it caught my eye in my local bookshop before it was first long-listed and then short-listed for the Wainwright Prize. I was delighted to see that progression, and I would be happy to see it progress one step further …. Its final words are, inevitably, elegaic: When our part of this nature-wrought and romantic place goes, the memory of life here will go with it. Where once Chuffy the Brindle Greyhound bombed about the beach and Cockle the Cockerel gently heralded the dawn with his rural sounds, and our skyline hens laid beautiful blue eggs, and our vegetable garden thrived, and we loved the place so much, one day, where all that had been, there will only be a particular volume of sky over the sea which will hold all these memories in its air, and the people on the beach will not know. And it catches those memories beautifully.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    I have loved the sea and coast for as long as I can remember. Every day that you visit is different because one of the numerous factors has changed and I like the dynamics of the constantly changing light and tides. I would love to watch a winter storm from the cosy confines of a secure house too. However, for some people there is too much change where the land meets the sea. On the very eastern cost of our country, erosion of the soft cliffs there is happening at a dramatic rate The house on the I have loved the sea and coast for as long as I can remember. Every day that you visit is different because one of the numerous factors has changed and I like the dynamics of the constantly changing light and tides. I would love to watch a winter storm from the cosy confines of a secure house too. However, for some people there is too much change where the land meets the sea. On the very eastern cost of our country, erosion of the soft cliffs there is happening at a dramatic rate The house on the edge of the cliff was demolished this week, which means we are now the house on the edge of the cliff. Juliet Blaxland is one of those living on this fast-changing coastline. Way back in time there used to be a village there and in 1666 the church succumbed to the waves. The battle between sea and land has continued until now. Back in June 2015, her house was 50 paces from the cliff edge. Now, it half that and getting closer year on year. One day their home will have to be demolished, they just don’t know when that day will be. It is not just a book about the frightening rate of erosion, but about living a life in a place that she loves. Moves from wider contemplations on the rewilding of landscapes that mankind has realised that they cannot control to tiny details of day to day life and how that can affect our moods. She has come to understand that we are momentary beings on a transient planet; our three score and ten on this rock are nothing when compared to the lifetime of the Earth, though it saddens her with the way that is changing so rapidly. I am not sure that I could live with that inevitable feeling that your home is going to one day fall into the sea, they can lose chunks as much 3m in one single storm. Those that wanted to live closer to the sea are suddenly much closer than they ever thought that they would be. However, Blaxland is quite philosophical about the whole thing. I really liked this book, Blaxland’s writing is evocative, whether she is writing about the roar of a storm, jugs of homemade Pimm’s or the attempt to create a crop circle. She has a deep love of the coastal landscape she inhabits. They still live there and will do until the bitter end.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sherrie

    As the title says, this book is about the last house in Easton Bavants, a village which has gradually vanished over the cliffs in Suffolk. It chronicles a year in the lives of the occupants as they watch their land disappearing. It was an interesting book, serious but also humerous, very resigned to their fate. Not so sure I would have been quite so relaxed about the inevitable.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    A truly thought provoking record of life. I am not maturely sensitive and my dreams are usually practical. This book has taught me another dimension of sensitive observation and thought and relates to a geographical area that I know. I look forward to rambles, even as an outsider, equipped with greater knowledge. Although the book tells a very local story there is very much more on offer to contemplate and offers the chance to revisit personal preconceived ideas. Thank you. I read a digital versio A truly thought provoking record of life. I am not maturely sensitive and my dreams are usually practical. This book has taught me another dimension of sensitive observation and thought and relates to a geographical area that I know. I look forward to rambles, even as an outsider, equipped with greater knowledge. Although the book tells a very local story there is very much more on offer to contemplate and offers the chance to revisit personal preconceived ideas. Thank you. I read a digital version of this book. I will now buy the hard copy version and add it to my collection of venerated books to be shared and dipped into from time to time.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nathalie (keepreadingbooks)

    We should all try to live in the countryside once in our lives. There is a growing ‘disconnection’ between town and country(side) and many misinformed ideas of what it means to be a farmer, keeper, hunter or fisherman by those who have never tried either. Blaxland shows us the harmony that exists in the English countryside – a harmony where there’s respect and love for nature, but where farming and hunting and fishing are still the basis of livelihood. Being pro- or anti-hunting here is not a th We should all try to live in the countryside once in our lives. There is a growing ‘disconnection’ between town and country(side) and many misinformed ideas of what it means to be a farmer, keeper, hunter or fisherman by those who have never tried either. Blaxland shows us the harmony that exists in the English countryside – a harmony where there’s respect and love for nature, but where farming and hunting and fishing are still the basis of livelihood. Being pro- or anti-hunting here is not a thing. Hunting is a part of life, and it’s ridiculous to even consider the alternative. It just is. And there is no cruelty in it. Nor in the farming, the fishing, the culling of herds either. Us ‘towners’ don’t know how the living, working British countryside and landscape works – and it is so easy to sit on our behinds all day and judge and condemn.* Blaxland places some emphasis on the somewhat twisted relationship many of us have with meat; we don’t mind going to the supermarket and buying packets and packets of meat, yet many would find it barbaric to see a deer being skinned or a hen being plucked or what have you (even if said deer or hen had had a good, long wild/semi-wild life). Personally, I am of the opinion that if you couldn’t kill/skin the animal yourself (and I’m talking about morals, not skills, here – of course you can’t actually kill or skin anything if you don’t know how) then you don’t deserve the meat. Think Ned Stark’s advice in Game of Thrones: if you can sentence someone to death, you should be able to carry out the sentence yourself. Her style is straightforward and matter of fact, which I always like, and she was witty to boot. The writing reminds me a lot of John Lewis-Stempel (who still does it better, though). If the language is too flowery and metaphor-heavy, you lose me. Nature is poetic and beautiful, but it is also matter of fact. In fact, I would argue that it is poetic and beautiful because it is straightforward and matter of fact. It is also a book mainly of hope for the world rather than doom, though ‘doom’ is all their existence is, living on the edge of an eroding cliff. That was a nice change. I enjoyed this, and even more the further I got, but it lacked a little something. I’m not sure exactly what, but I was missing the thrilling feeling I get when I read a really good nature book. There were also many repetitions that I think the editor should’ve picked up on – e.g., the fact that their house/land was sold by the larger estate to pay for death duties was mentioned and presented as new info no less than three times throughout the book. Nonetheless, this is a book that will make you think about things you had probably not considered before, and I learned a lot from it. Rating: 3.75 *Vegetarians should be warned before reading a certain part of the book: you may either need to go full vegan or go back to eating meat after having read it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Simon

    Exceptional in places, muddled and unfocused in others. Needs a new editor/proofreader as there's a couple of spelling mistakes and a curiously repetitive section. When it's good it's very, very good though...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ceris

    The Easternmost House is a stunning memoir, giving a wonderful sense of a rural way of life and an ecosystem that is at risk of being lost. It's joined The Outrun, The Living Mountain and (more recently) The Salt Path in my favourite nature books.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sue Steel

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca JJ

  10. 5 out of 5

    sheila peterson

  11. 5 out of 5

    Claire

  12. 4 out of 5

    Penny

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kay

  14. 4 out of 5

    Melanie (Mel's Bookland Adventures)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mrs Susan Marion Hale

  16. 5 out of 5

    Liz

  17. 4 out of 5

    Navi

  18. 5 out of 5

    Laura Macdonald

  19. 4 out of 5

    Robert

  20. 4 out of 5

    nancy follows

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

  22. 5 out of 5

    Derek

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kalen

  24. 4 out of 5

    David Wells

  25. 5 out of 5

    William Hywel Pickrell

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nicola

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alison Parsons

  28. 5 out of 5

    P W Marron

  29. 4 out of 5

    mr craig s westlake

  30. 4 out of 5

    Moira Dennison

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