Welcome to Halfman, Halfbook for my stop on the Blog Tour for Fledgling by Hannah Bourne-Taylor and published by Arum Books.
About the Book
Read the powerful account of one woman’s struggle to reshape her identity when all normality has fallen away.
When lifelong bird-lover Hannah Bourne-Taylor moved with her husband to Ghana seven years ago she couldn’t have anticipated how her life would be forever changed by her unexpected encounters with nature and the subsequent bonds she formed.
Plucked from the comfort and predictability of her life before, Hannah struggled to establish herself in her new environment, striving to belong in the rural grasslands far away from home.
In this challenging situation, she was forced to turn inwards and interrogate her own sense of identity, however in the animal life around her, and in two wild birds in particular, Hannah found a source of solace and a way to reconnect with the world in which she was living.
Fledgling is a portrayal of adaptability, resilience and self-discovery in the face of isolation and change, fuelled by the quiet power of nature and the unexpected bonds with animals she encounters.
Hannah encourages us to reconsider the conventional boundaries of the relationships people have with animals through her inspiring and very beautiful glimpse of what is possible when we allow ourselves to connect to the natural world.
Full of determination and compassion, Fledgling is a powerful meditation on our instinctive connection to nature. It shows that even the tiniest of birds can teach us what is important in life and how to embrace every day.
About the Author
Hannah Bourne-Taylor graduated from the London College of Fashion, with a First in Photography in 2008. She became an equine photographer with photographs exhibited in the Royal Academy and solo exhibitions in London and New York. From 2013 – 2021 Hannah lived in rural Ghana with her husband who ran the ‘Right to Dream’ charitable foundation. She worked within the charity’s media team producing a documentary series on gender equality in celebration of the foundation’s girls’ programme, the first of its kind in Africa. Since 2019, Hannah has ghost written and edited several books, including working closely with Anne Glenconner on her bestselling Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown.
Almost four thousand miles from her home in southern England lies the house that she lived in, in Ghana. It is located very close to the 0-degree latitude and longitude intersection and is so utterly different to anything else that she was used to. She was with her husband who was running a sports foundation. He has all the various permits needed to work there, but being a trailing spouse, someone who was not allowed any paid work in the country.
Her residence permit was vividly marked ‘dependent’. To say that she was lonely and lost was an understatement. She clung to little treats, such as a spoonful of marmalade each day as a reminder of home and happier times. It was supposed to be an adventure, but the warning from her parents about what could go wrong and the snakes that could kill her should she happen to come across them was just terrifying.
One thing that did lift her was the return of the swift from their long journey back from Europe. She stood out in a rainstorm waiting for them to arrive and soon after the rain stopped they appeared in the sky screaming and acting like aeronautical hooligans as they flew far too close to everything. As the sun set, she turned for home and as she approached the school, she saw a man poking under the eaves, she saw something fall and after he had left went over to see. There was a tiny swift in amongst the debris. She tried to help it, but it didn’t want to leave her hand. She made a snap decision and took it, home.
I didn’t fully realise it at the time, but it was not just the bird’s life at stake. Somehow, it was also mine.
This was the moment that it changed for her in Ghana, this new beginning with this swift gave her a purpose and the goal of getting this bird back into the air with its fellows. It would not be the first bird, she would end up caring for a mannikin finch after. It is a heartfelt memoir about one woman’s loneliness in another country and the way that she manages to cope with being far from home and family. Bourne-Taylor is very open and honest about her feelings all the way through the book and I think that she writes well in this, her debut. We all take different things from immersion in the natural world and this is how it gave as much to her as she gave back to it.
Don’t forget to visit the other blogs on the blog tour
Buy this at your local independent bookshop. If you’re not sure where your nearest is then you can find one here
My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things for arranging a copy of the book to read
The publisher is here