This is a joy of a book, thanks as much to Barnes's love of nature as his love of literature. Without asking for a return to some barely remembered bucolic England, that beloved staple of Regency films, before the evils of industrialisation set us on the slow road to global suicide, he nevertheless believes in tapping into that primal element in us that recognises the natural world's life-enhancing gifts.
Perhaps rather obviously posing his own life in rural Suffolk against his experiences travelling in Africa andIndia, Barnes still weaves a kind of magic with lyrical descriptions of a typical British spring, while debating the Enlightenment's legacy of rationality and Darwin's theory of evolution. Like all gifted preachers, he's after our souls and is quite shameless in his methods to catch them, even to the extent of roping in his young son to go badger-watching with him, for that father-son moment that makes us all go "ahh". It worked; I did.