cover image The Story of My Heart

The Story of My Heart

Richard Jefferies, as rediscovered by Brooke Williams and Terry Tempest Williams. Torrey House (Consortium, dist.), $21.95 (240p) ISBN 978-1-937226-41-1

This new edition of Jefferies’s 1883 autobiographical work aims to introduce a new generation to a prolific and passionate nature writer who died in 1887 at age 38. The husband-and-wife team of Brooke and Terry Tempest Williams, both environmental activists and authors, first discovered Jefferies’s work in a dusty corner of an old Maine bookstore. Alongside the reprinted text, they give valuable context, arguing that despite the book’s Victorian origins, it has continued resonance with today’s spiritual and ecological concerns. Jefferies’s musings consider man’s place in the world, the soul, and nature’s role as a source of comfort and inspiration. His writings may be overwrought and repetitious for some; the real revelations come from Terry’s foreword and from Brooke’s commentaries, presented in chapters alternating with Jefferies’s own. Like Jefferies, Brooke invokes his own experiences in order to better understand the world. Jefferies, as Brooke notes, had his share of admirers and intense critics—Rachel Carson purportedly kept two copies of the book at her bedside; others deemed it “utterly chaotic” and “barely comprehensible.” But both Brooke and Terry give a sense of cohesion to Jefferies’s writing, and leave readers with much to ponder about our own chaotic, fast-paced, work-obsessed world. (Nov.)