Thin Paths, By Julia Blackburn


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Julia Blackburn's travel books bring an artist's touch to non-fiction.

In 1999, she found – thanks to her Dutch husband's hiking – an old house in a remote hillside village in Liguria, north Italy: "a mixture of north Wales and the west coast of Majorca". In a patchwork of fine-grained nature writing, conversations and rapturous rambles, Thin Paths recounts the couple's embedding amid this ancient landscape and ageing people. As a "time of illness" brings sadness, this beautiful book morphs into a meditation on mortality; on "how incomprehensible it is that someone lives and then dies".