Monday 5 September 2022

Thunderstone - Nancy Campbell

‘It was believed lightning would not strike a house that held a thunderstone. And so these fossils were placed on top of clocks, under floorboards, over stable doors . . . But there are some storms that thunderstones cannot prevent.’

In the wake of a traumatic lockdown, Nancy Campbell buys an old caravan and drives it into a strip of neglected woodland between a canal and railway. It is the first home she has ever owned.

As summer begins, Nancy embraces the challenge of how to live well in a space in which possessions and emotions often threaten to tumble – clearing industrial junk from the soil to help wild beauty flourish. But when illness and uncertainty loom once more, it is this van anchored in the woods, and the unconventional friendships forged off -grid, that will bring her solace and hope.

An intimate journal across the space of a defining summer, Thunderstone is celebration of the people and places that hold us when the storms gather; an invitation to approach life with imagination and to embrace change bravely. 

What did I think?

Having loved Fifty Words for Snow, I was keen to read more of Nancy Campbell's writing and her latest book Thunderstone is her true story.  I don't often read memoirs as I find they take me too long to read, and I have 'so many books, so little time', but I read Thunderstone in two sittings.

Nancy's Campbell's writing is as beautiful as ever and the rhythm of the book is as natural as breathing as it flows from month to month, observing the changing seasons.  I feel completely honoured that Nancy has shared her story with me (and all the other readers of her memoir, of course).  At times it's heartbreaking but Nancy's resilience and fortitude gives her the strength of character to overcome any difficulty.  

There's a strong sense of community in Thunderstone and I loved how the barge folk welcomed Nancy and her little caravan into their fold.  Nancy's friendship with Sven is wonderful to read and some of their entertaining interactions often had me laughing out loud.  Some of the stories really shouldn't have been funny but it really is the way she tells them!

Written with raw honesty and beautifully poetic observations, Thunderstone is an exceptional memoir and one I wouldn't hesitate to recommend.  It was my absolute pleasure to read it.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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