Updated: Nov 1, 2019
Welcome back to another review by your armchair reader: The Wild Book Spy
Where to start with this extraordinary book? It self-describes as ‘encounters with plants, stars and animals,’ but this does not prepare the reader for the helter-skelter ride that lies within!
Amy Leach is a magician of the imagination – juggling images, ideas, facts and fancies in a heady mixture of intuitive observations and love of nature.
A seemingly slender piece in its outward dimensions, the interior is like Dr Who’s Tardis expanding to take the reader on a journey to the edges of the universe or a dive deep into the micro cosmos. There are sparkling thoughts on some of the great questions of life in this little book but there is humour also to be found within its complex halls – when talking of jellyfish fish, for instance:
‘the man-of-war , for example, appears to be one individual, like Leo Tolstoy; but it is actually many individuals living together as a colony, like Leo Tolstoy.’
Her kaleidoscope mind seeks connection and juxtaposition everywhere:
‘On baby wrens hatched in a hanging flower basket, the sun shines through silky leaves and flapping flowers and glittery rain, which inspires earthed worms to unearth themselves.'
For me, one of the most moving meditations was a chapter called 'The Round-Earth Affair. In it,Leach describes in her signature lyrical prose, how a community is transformed by the creation of a small park within its boundaries. As the park grows and takes root so does its effect on the local residents:
'When she (nature) is planted across the street, we are fastened with desire: we cannot relinquish butterflies and return to uninterrupted road.'
Ultimately this book should be read in small and savoured morsels both to fully absorb the magic that lies within and to appreciate the delight in life and nature that is its inspiration. A book to bring joy, perhaps, on cold winter nights.