Book news and reviews – November 2015

Words by:
Yusef Sayed
Featured in:
November 2015

Lincolnshire The Glorious County is a new photographic survey of the city of Lincoln and varied surrounding landscapes and communities throughout the county. Compiled by Peter and Janet Roworth, the book provides up-to-date information to those new to the county. Published by Halsgrove.

Well-known county history writer Stephen Wade has recently published the pamphlet Lincolnshire Murder Stories with Bradwell Books, with incidents ranging from classic tales of Tom Otter and William Button to more recent crimes that reveal a grisly underbelly to Lincolnshire’s past.

Author Christina James will visit Bookmark in Spalding on 17th November at 7.15pm to discuss her latest crime thriller, The Crossing which is set in and around the town. To reserve tickets, contact Bookmark by telephone 01775 769231 or see instore.

Published by Five Leaves Publications, Price £9.99

The inspiration of the Lincolnshire landscape is here expressed in words, rather than photographs. Collecting several poems by each of a number of contemporary writers familiar with the county, editor Rory Waterman has done a commendable job of bringing the possibilities of poetry, in response to the county’s sights and sounds, up to date.

Each set of poems is prefaced by a brief autobiographical note by the writer, revealing the different ways in which the area has made a lasting impression, even on those who no longer reside in Lincolnshire, or have come to the county as outsiders. The first contributor, Alison Brackenbury writes with an often sombre tone, signalling that the collection will avoid throughout the sort of overt romanticism that might be expected. The language repeatedly conveys the ruggedness of Lincolnshire’s natural features and the faces and features far from the madding crowd. Pastimes, traditions and personal memories are interwoven with a particular emphasis on nature and the transitory.

The familiar elements of the county, though, from the RAF planes passing overhead, to the work of the farm labourers and the remnants of the earlier Roman visitors are referred to. The poems of Joel Stickley, Lincolnshire’s Poet Laureate of 2011 are perhaps a good place to dive in for those who do not read verse regularly, not only for the narrative clarity of his writing, but to note the various county events and occasions to which he lent his words.

Published by Green Plover Books, Price £24.95 (hbk)

The widescreen format of Jon Fox’s study of Lincolnshire may not lend itself to easy filing on the bookshelf, but this seems entirely in fitting with the author’s aim. In setting out to present the landscape of Lincolnshire in all its contours, Fox wishes to avoid the usual pigeonholes that outsiders so commonly assign – the flat fens and rolling Wolds – in their underestimation of the area. Moreover, the dimensions allow Fox’s photographs to capture the expanse and tonal complexity of what might appear to passersby as just another rural scene.

While the historical characteristics of the country’s town centres risk being effaced by commercial franchises, large areas of the countryside still reflect the larger forces of natural development and agricultural traditions. In this sense, the county continues to provide an antidote to the rampant urbanisation elsewhere. Many of Fox’s photographs also reveal the markers of a more religious past, with churches of all shapes and sizes.

The balance of text and image in the book is well-judged, providing informed historical knowledge and information about each distinct feature of the county with journalistic notes on current issues facing the county’s land. Fox deserves praise, too, for keeping all of his most majestic full-page photographs free from the interference of overlaid captions. Though perhaps at odds with the merely PR-minded trying to generate tourism in the county, Fox’s numerous shots of bruised, stormy skies looming over the vivid farmlands create a striking, almost abstract arrangement of bold colours and capture the uniqueness of Lincolnshire’s views.

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