Earthed by Rebecca Schiller

4 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Lots of people have dreamt of moving away from the city and taking over a smallholding to grow their own food and keep a few chickens and live out their version of the good life. I have occasionally considered it myself too. But it is hard work, plants do not grow with a few minutes of care each day, you need to graft to get the bountiful harvests that you see others producing.

Rebecca Schiller turned her fantasy into a reality back in 2017 when they moved to a smallholding. The stark reality of that dream became evident after a while when the list of things to do each and every day grew to monstrous proportions and with it an overwhelming sense of not being able to cope with any of the challenges that life was throwing at her.

Over breakfast something small finally tips me off that ledge – the one that I have been balancing on for quite some time.

This is the story of her life on that small plot of land and is an open and occasionally a brutally honest account of her suffering from all manner of mental health issues whilst trying to hold together a smallholding, her marriage and her family. Her mental health is something that she struggles with to a greater or lesser extent throughout the book, whether it is dealing with the mini family crisis that crops up with children or just facing the endless daily tasks. There are moments of happiness, small things that raise a smile like the first fruits or fresh eggs and the warmth of a summer day.

I need this smallholding to be a simple, easy, happy family affair with a greenhouse that has all its panes. But it is not and this kind of life has never been like that and never will be. The phrase ‘simple life’ wasn’t coined by anyone who tried to live it

Even though the subject matter might not be for everyone I thought that this was well written. I am sure we only get a flavour of her suffering and the pain that she was causing to her husband, Jared whilst she was ill. I liked the dash of history of her plot of land that is a part of the book, it helps to earth her and is a reminder that we are merely custodians of this planet. I wasn’t sure about the fictional elements as she imagined the women who once worked the land to feed their families. Even though it could be quite bleak at times, there is a positive message here too, partly that modern medical treatments can and do work when the professionals know what is wrong, but also that a connection to a landscape can keep you rooted.

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1 Comment

  1. Liz Dexter

    I have to say trying to grow vegetables, feeling I needed to help us be more self-sufficient, being crap at it and coming up with 4 portions of beans at £15 per portion last year did upset me more than it should have! It was a blessed relief to decide not to try this year. So I can see how a smallholding plus wobbly mental health might not be the best idea. I don’t fancy the fictionalised bits in this, though.

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