3.5 out of 5 stars

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

Every village of any note used to have its church, pub and pond, but it has been a long while since I have seen a pond in a village, and even though some have become clogged with silt, there are still a substantial number left. Even a small pond can support a surprising amount of life. There are the obvious frogs and toads and the other amphibians, but on top of that, there are all the insects and invertebrates, leeches, and all manner of birdlife. Mammals too rely on ponds for water and opportunities to eat some of the other wildlife there.

A pond is Bigger than a puddle and smaller than a lake and John Lewis-Stempel is fortunate to have a pond on his farm in Hereford, and he begins this book from a frogs eye view while swimming in there. This book takes us from the layers of mud and silt at the bottom that protects all manner of creatures in the depths of winter, past the plants and the insects that feed there to the surface and the creatures that stop by for the life-giving water. He slips a small amount of that water onto a slide and sees the world that the first naturalists first saw through a microscope.

This is another very readable book by Lewis-Stempel. He mixes in prose and poetry and I liked the seasonal / diary format of the book and the way he compared the aquatic life in France with the pond on his farm in Hereford. I did feel that this wasn’t quite as good as his previous books, though that said, he has a very high bar to reach each time. Still worth reading though for his beautiful prose and sharp observations.

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