Author: Delia Owens
I finished reading this book yesterday and have struggled all day today in writing this blog because I do not know where to start writing or how to write about this absolute masterpiece.
The book was proposed as a reading by a colleague as part of the project book club I formed following my research into networking. I was pleased with the proposal as I do like novels, but what I realised after reading this book, and having recently read the Island Home (another masterpiece by Libby Page I wrote about HERE), is that I seem to enjoy books that tackle living in the nature and most of all, water! As Lorna says in the Island Home, she longs for mountains, and I then realised I long for the water. The same feeling happened here, I was able to identify with Kya, the main character, because of her love of water, nature and wildlife. I indeed love water as I grew up on the coast, I have eight cats and go almost every day to feed swans and ducks at the nearby pond. When the wildlife recognises me at the pond and starts swimming fast towards me, screaming and waving wings or when a swan goes on his last legs and waves his wings gloriously with a neck thickened up showing happiness or ducks run towards me if they are outside, those moments are priceless and gives me a sense of a life well lived.
Therefore, I could understand why Kya managed to survive living alone when her whole family abandoned her and why she managed to survive in the wild and remain kind even if she was not trustworthy of humans and was afraid of them. Why would she not be? Why would anyone not be considering all wars, genocide and the absolute domination humans exercise over nature and each other?
This is a story of living with nature, from nature and for nature, and as such, it has an ecofeminist element, which I enjoyed beyond words. But it is also a story of loneliness and evidence humans are social creatures and long for companionship. Whilst Kya has found companions in gulls, she feeds every day and who come as soon as they see her recognising her as my ducks and swans recognise me, she also longed for human contact only to get disappointed and abandoned so many times that she no longer knew how to be consoled or recognise that some people have been there for her. The loneliness she feels is written so well that it is palpable, and I teared up several times reading this book, particularly when speech was escaping her for a while or when her feelings of abandonment were described. Delia Owens is a true writer with incredible talent. I do not recall when I felt so much for the book, apart from the Island Home, which hit home and opened a massive reflection but that was different. Here, we feel loneliness and can imagine how we would feel if we found ourselves alone with gulls in the marsh afraid of humans.
The book is also a story of prejudice and racism as the only two humans who help Kya throughout her life are a Black couple who face discrimination and racism thus Kya also finds identification with them as she also faced false rumours and prejudice as a ‘marsh girl’. But, it is first and foremost a story of living with nature, beautiful companionship and love wildlife and animals give to humans unconditionally and the celebration of humanity that derives from living with nature and wildlife.
Beautiful. Astonishing. Don’t say you lived your life well without reading this!
Thank you for reading.
Topić, M., Carbery, C., Arrigoni, A., Clayton, T., Kyriakidou, N., Gatewood, C., Shafique, S., & Halliday, S. (2021). Women and Networking: A Systematic Literature Review (1985-2021). #WECAN report. Leeds: Leeds Beckett University. https://eprints.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/id/eprint/7951/1/WomenAndNetworkingLiteratureReviewAM-TOPIC.pdf