Book Reviews

Landlines by Raynor Winn

This is Raynor Winn’s third book, following on from The Salt Path and The Wild Silence. If you have read these previous books, you will be familiar with her story and her husband Moth’s struggle with corticobasal degeneration, a Parkinson’s-like disease. Moth’s health is declining, and they decide to walk the Cape Wrath Trail, over two hundred miles of tough terrain through Scotland’s remotest mountains and lochs. This may sound counter intuitive for a man who can barely walk in a straight line, but they discovered that long distance walking dramatically improved Moth’s symptoms in the past.

Winn beautifully describes the landscapes they traipse through – you can smell the heather, hear the waterfalls and feel the bites of the insistent midges!

The author doesn’t shy away from voicing her dismay at the effects of climate change on the landscape, and the impact that humans have had since time immemorial. In Scotland alone there is only one percent of the old forest remaining.

After completing The Cape Wrath Trail, they continue to walk through England, and can’t help but notice the lack of biodiversity around them as farmers turn to intensive monoculture farming. It’s easy to accuse Winn of being preachy as she observes the effects of climate change. But she and Moth are immersed in the landscape and the loss of habitat and wildlife is inescapable, and heartbreaking.

Landlines records one couple’s journey through an (at times) harsh landscape, battling not only the elements but their own physical limitations. Throughout it all, they rely on each other’s strengths, both physical and emotional. It is a portrait of a marriage that has withstood the worst that life can throw at it, and still they manage to share a look, and know what the other is thinking. It is a testament to the power of love, and the restorative power of walking!

Reviewed by Gaby Meares
Murder on a Monday Reading Group

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Landlines by Raynor Winn

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