Book Review: Apples and Orchards since the Eighteenth Century by Joanna Crosby and Finding the Fox by Andreas Tjernshaugen

I do like to keep an eye out for books that I think will be really interesting and when I saw a post on Facebook by Joanna Crosby about her new book 'Apples and Orchards since the Eighteenth Century' I thought it sounded like just the sort of book I like.

This is an academic  book and therefore priced accordingly, it is not cheap retailing at around £76.  Here is where I have to say I have not paid for this book nor have I been paid to write this review.  My words and opinions are my own.  I have a strong interest in social history and my subject area is sociology so this book was something I would want to read.

Joanna writes clearly and accessibly with talking us through why the apple matters in British history and culture before taking us into the discussion about what is an apple; which is not quite as easy as I had imagined.  I also have to hold up my hands to admit that I did not know that apples are not native to the UK which is in itself why this book is so important.  We see apples as something distinctively British and (I really want to say core) central to British identity.  Joanna talks us through all this, the how and the whys this has come to be.

The discussion on what makes an orchard and the orchard's influence on our gardens, both grand and not so grand is also very enlightening.  Joanna then moves on to the development of the apple across the world, the identification of varieties and the protection of those varieties through national societies and networks.  Joanna tells that that apples do not grow true from seed, to keep a variety it has to be grafted.

The more apples were grown commercially the more the politics around them grew.  The discussions around importing food and the cost thereof are not dissimilar to the discussions we have today about buying local.  Joanna tells us that our supermarkets sell us imported apples alongside British varieties and that we can only buy what is offered to us through selling outlets.  Of course we can grow our own but orchards are declining in the UK and domestic gardens are getting smaller/being paved over.  

Joanna talks the impact of Brexit and apples and the development of community orchards as the ability to have fresh fruit in a cost of living crisis gets more and more difficult.  This books bring the history of the apple up to the present day.

I know it is not cheap, but it is really interesting and an important contribution to the knowledge of the history of apples.

Apples and Orchards since the Eighteenth Century by Joanna Crosby is published by Bloomsbury Academic

Finding the Fox by Andreas Tjernshaugen
I was sent this book to review so I have not paid for it, I have not been paid to write this review and my words and opinions are my own.

This is a delight of a book.  Andreas, as his name might suggest, is Norwegian and this book is translated by Lucy Moffat into English.  It is a very easy read, it flows well and I like Andreas's style of writing.  The book is part his own observations of foxes, with some charming black and white photographs and part research.  So there is good solid information about foxes about there nature and their impact on our culture and well as the joy that Andreas obviously has for them.  The book is based in Norway but when Andreas is talking about urban foxes there is much that is similar - including the knowledge that it is hard to shoot urban foxes.  I felt a sense of relief at this; I am one of those wimpy townies who enjoys seeing foxes in my garden, even though they do dig up my plants, leave stinky poo and bury odd things like gloves and loaves of bread where I least expect it. 

I really enjoyed this book, it is the right mix of charm and knowledge.

Finding the Fox is published by Greystone Books and can be found on internet booksellers.

Take care and be kind.
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  1. Both books look interesting--the first because of the history and the outcomes of the apple's spread to most populated parts of the earth, the second because of personal interest in foxes for many years. Also, we've recently had a fox living in our back woods on our small suburban back yard. Thanks for recommending these books.


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