4 out of 5 stars

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

He was beginning to think that his relationship with Alice was the one but all too soon it unravelled. Left alone, the thoughts in his head that had affected him since childhood began to return. Depression, guilt, religious confusion, abuse and the conflicts of his bi-sexuality, they were back again. This time he had a place of refuge where he could go to, Epping Forest. It was a place that would draw him back time after time.

It didn’t provide all the solace and comfort he needed though, some of that he would find in the arms of men and women after his relationship finished. Epping Forest is a place of secrets, there is obviously something about it that attracts a darker personality and it has a reputation for a place that men could go to find partners, especially when homosexuality was illegal. However, rather than finding demons in the woods, Turner used that time spent in the natural world to excise his own and it gives him the inspiration to begin to investigate a family secret from a few generations ago.

The ancient timbers of Greensted know no hypocrisy or bigotry, but are prayers carved from nature, as sacred as hymns.

The blurb describes this as an original book, and throughout a lot of the book, I’d be tempted to agree. Turner writes with a wonderful eye for detail and even though this is a very raw, honest and open memoir you do have to be broadminded for this. He asks searching questions of himself about his sexuality and how society treats those that do not fit conventional stereotypes. But the understorey of his memoir is the forest, how it lifts his mood when he visits, so much so that he ends up volunteering there. It is a great companion to Strange Labyrinth which is Will Ashon’s take on the same place and shows how people can have a deep attachment in a very different way to a place.

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