Oh, this was such a beautiful, nourishing, calming read. I read it in a few short sittings, the narrative captivating me in a way nonfiction books don’t often manage to. Enchantment’s blurb describes it as ‘a balm for our times’, and that certainly matches my experience of reading it – as if something buried in these words has started healing something that I didn’t really know needed healing. The language Katherine May uses is soft and lyrical, and I found some of her sentences flowing over me and wrapping around me in much the same way a spell would.
I swim to enter into the midst of something that joins me to everything, everywhere, in all time.
Seeking change and a softening, Katherine May goes in search of enchantment, of wonder, of ‘a better way to walk through this life’. Enchantment, she says, is essential for us to feel connected: to each other and to the earth. She explores the magic of earth, water, fire and sky, letting attention and rituals show her a different way of connecting, of finding enchantment.
I was so excited to read this. Wintering has been on my radar for ages although I haven’t quite managed to get round to reading it yet. Katherine May was the keynote speaker at the CIEP’s annual conference last September. Her talk was beautiful – soothing, empowering and comforting – so I was looking forward to spending more time with her words.
I was relieved to find that her words were just as beautiful written down. Enchantment is full of rich and careful language; almost every sentence has something of value in it, some nugget of gold to take away and turn over in your mind. And the richness of language feels like the perfect reflection for the beauty in the world that Katherine May is discovering and exploring and sharing.
That is what I am searching for: the chance to merge into the wild drift of the world, to feel overcome, to enter into its weft so completely that sometimes I can forget myself.
But that is a lofty goal when I can barely shift my mind into motion.
I was captivated by her idea that enchantment is essential: not just a nice feeling to have occasionally, but something we need to regularly experience. She’s right, I think, and it’s easy to see how far modern society has slipped away from these ideas of enchantment and connection. I also particularly appreciated how clear and candid her voice is; reading this felt like being told a very gentle story by an old friend.
It's a book I can see myself returning to again and again when life feels too chaotic or unsteady, and Wintering has certainly been bumped much higher up my TBR list now. I’m really looking forward to seeing what Katherine writes next – what other adventures of the mind and soul she takes us on.
(With thanks to NetGalley and Faber & Faber for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.)
Predominantly climbing/outdoors literature, mountaineering history and nature writing.