The Way Home by Mark Boyle, read by Gerard Doyle
It was 11:00 pm when I checked my email for the last time and turned off my phone for what I hoped would be forever.
No running water, no car, no electricity or any of the things it powers: the internet, phone, washing machine, radio, or light bulb. Just a wooden cabin, on a smallholding, by the edge of a stand of spruce.
The Way Home is a modern-day Walden – an honest and lyrical account of a remarkable life lived in nature without modern technology. Mark Boyle, author of The Moneyless Man, explores the hard-won joys of building a home with his bare hands, learning to make fire, collecting water from the stream, foraging, and fishing.
What he finds is an elemental life, one governed by the rhythms of the sun and seasons, where life and death dance in a primal landscape of blood, wood, muck, water, and fire – much the same life we have lived for most of our time on earth. Revisiting it brings a deep insight into what it means to be human at a time when the boundaries between man and machine are blurring.
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I find it hard to explain why I enjoyed this so much. It’s far from exciting and the story jumps around a lot, not just within the author’s own life, but also between his development of the smallholding and the islanders of the Blaskett Isles. I think my enjoyment stems from the openness of the author. He is very aware of his faults but also proud of his achievements. He doesn’t try to glorify his struggle without modern technologies but neither does he romanticise his new life.
He also openly acknowledges his struggle to live his new life without technology but also exist in the modern world. At times he must make compromises in order to see his parents and to help his neighbours. He’s also starting from scratch so in order to become established he needs to use the proceeds or results of modern technology.
The reader in this case brings a lot to the experience. I believe I enjoyed this more as an audiobook than I would have as a regular book. Once I became used to his pronunciation and tone, his voice added to the story making it a richer and more enjoyable experience.
Header image source: fossbytes.com