The lure of the magical is hard to resist.
I really, really loved Wanderland. It’s gentle, honest and full of hope - just a joy to read. Jini Reddy gives an open and authentic account of her journey to find connection with the land, exploring new and hidden places around the UK. It feels like a really special book in its warmth and authenticity, and I’ve found it pretty tricky to write a review that captures any part of this; I would really just recommend reading it yourself if it sounds even remotely like the sort of book you’d enjoy.
After an uncanny experience on a solo camp high in the Pyrenees, Jini finds herself searching for ways that the land is speaking to her. She doesn’t feel she fits into any of the different groups of nature enthusiasts, so she strives to carve out her own path – following her instincts and trying to search out some communion or experience to give her a better understanding of this other world, existing so closely alongside the one she already knows.
Jini’s journey takes her to labyrinths and lost springs, and to islands off the coasts of Scotland and Northumberland. She explores myth, history and magic, and in doing so gives a valuable reminder of how much wonder is still there to be found in the British landscape. I loved the balance of exploring these places whilst also exploring her own beliefs and cynicism.
Jini writes with honesty, openly sharing her questions and her doubts, her feelings of loneliness and connection. My background – and my relationship with the landscape – is very different to Jini’s, but her journey for connection felt deeply resonant for me. Her voice is genuine and reassuring, and it’s easy to imagine yourself just on a long walk with a friend when reading through this, as if Jini is chatting away to you.
At its heart, this is a book that really sings with compassion – for herself, for those she travels with, for readers looking for some sort of comfort, and for the land itself. And I really appreciated that Jini doesn’t attempt to answer every question raised by her journey. She leaves plenty of paths open for the reader to wander down, long after finishing the book.
I’m here to remember the power of tangible, physical nature, staring me in the face. The spirit of nature, alive in the salty sea, the clammy seaweed on the shore, the rocks, the marram grass, the birds in flight. Sometimes what is here in front of us is all we need.
Predominantly climbing/outdoors literature, mountaineering history and nature writing.