Chasing memories of the losses of his brother and father, the author, a young newspaper director, and his Australian wife visit the Cotswolds. On a whim they buy a cottage and Ian resigns. They slowly get to know Norman, their inscrutable and apparently terrifying neighbour; Geoff, the ebullient landlord of their eclectic local - last bastion against the encroaching gastropub - and Tom, an ex-gamekeeper, who lets Ian see something of a hidden rural culture. The delightful aspects of village life and an ever-changing landscape is evocatively captured; but it is from working with Norman on his small chaotic farm that they learn about the loss of the countryside to industrial farming and of no-longer affordable housing to the dreaded 'white settlers'. And it is shadows of the past and a seemingly segregated social world around them that begin to cast doubts on whether this is the place for them. This is a gentle lesson in taking time to confront our losses, memories and prejudices to discover a revitalised life in our own country.
A timeless, moving and uplifting tale of merriment and visceral beauty, A Place in My Country reads more like a novel and challenges for the better how we think of the English countryside.
Ian Walthew left school aged eighteen and spent six months walking across Spain, living as a tramp and following in the footsteps of the Cotswold writer Laurie Lee who wrote about his pre-civil war journey in As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning. Ian eventually fell into the newspaper industry and ended his media career as worldwide Marketing Director on the executive board of the Paris-based newspaper The International Herald Tribune. After nearly a decade living and working abroad in Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris and travelling the world he was thirty-four when he unexpectedly resigned and moved with his Australian wife Hannah to the Cotswolds.