To be published on 18 January 2022, with 32 full colour illustrations by Bernard Bowerman from the first edition.
At last she reached the brow of the hill … now the country opened out below her and she looked down into a wide and lovely valley … Still patched with snow the little fields spread like a carpet below her and here and there a farmhouse with barns and golden ricks was clearly seen. Across the plain ran, straight as a ruler, a railway line and she saw a toy train puffing and crawling across the picture.
Malcolm Saville’s classic novel from 1946 is about eleven-year old Jane’s discovery of nature and country life during a year spent convalescing on her uncle’s farm, after having been dangerously ill in post-war London. The novel is also a record of rural England eighty years ago, written by one of the great twentieth-century English nature writers.
The Introduction is written by Hazel Sheeky Bird of the University of Newcastle.
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This novel was written while Saville was extending his range as a writer, alongside his very successful Lone Pine adventure series, and nature anthologies for children. Moor End Farm, where Jane spends a year discovering the birds and animals living around her, is based on a farm in Wheathamstead, Hertfordshire, where Saville had lived. Inspired by the experiences of Saville’s own god-daughter, this marvellous novel is full of the wonder of discovery, as well the happiness of regaining health, making friends, and learning to love the natural world.
We sent a copy to Mya-Rose Craig, aka Birdgirl, the promnent UK environmentalist and ornithologist, and she loved it. ‘A beautifully illustrated story of an eleven year old London girl’s year of convalescing in Hertfordshire in 1946. Her experiences are delightful. A traditional story but easily relatable for modern young people.’
‘Malcolm Saville’s new-to-me authorial voice is here guiding and instructive, but never patronising in its tone; his writing as crisp and sweet as an old-fashioned apple — childlike in its wonder, but never childish, filled with details that elevate his simple story into something gentle and wise. The full-colour reproductions of Bernard Bowerman’s beautiful illustrations from the first edition are refreshingly nostalgic in their simplicity, each built around a limited, austerity palette. (After the original publication in 1946, later editions were black & white throughout.) Together, words and images bring into sharp, loving focus the landscape and wildlife, livestock and farming rhythms of a rural twelvemonth, as seen through the eyes of eleven-year-old town child Jane. ‘ – The Unhurried Reader
‘Jane’s Country Year will appeal to anyone interested in rural life in the 1940s, the countryside or the natural world. It also ties in with present days concerns about the environment, sustainability and the preservation of the countryside. As Uncle William remarks at one point, ‘And so you see Janey how ’tis that everything that came from the soil goes back into it at last’. I thought it was utterly charming.’ – What Cathy Read Next