Monday, 6 October 2008

Rural gentrification and the impact of agribusiness and 'lifestylers' on the countryside - a NZ perspective.

A book I have written called A Place in My Country (which will be available in the U.S.A. in Spring 2009 I am told) has received a new review this weekend from a New Zealand newspaper, the Christchurch Press.

I'm struck by how the reviewer thinks this book about the impact of industrial farming and 'lifestyler' incomers will resonate with New Zealanders, even though the book is set in the Cotswolds, England.

Indeed, I have received emails from readers in the U.S.A., Canada, France, Australia and New Zealand, let alone from all over the U.K, saying how the experiences recounted in my book are reflected where they live and speak volumes to the fact that 'rural gentrification' is a worldwide experience in the developed world, for good and bad.

Lisa Pruitt

All these blogs can be found on the Farm Blogs blog roll under General Resources - search on these blogs for the label 'Rural gentrification'.

Susan Schneider

Anyway, here's a review of my book from New Zealand, but I'd love to hear of your experiences, views and opinions on rural gentrification. You can write to me at ian AT


‘Who hasn't thought, occasionally, of chucking it all in and starting up a new life in the country?

After years in France climbing the corporate ladder, Ian Walthew finds himself back in his native England and, with a working life looming in London, does just that, although it must be said more by accident than by design..On a whim, he and his wife buy a cottage in the Cotswolds – surely one of -England's prettiest regions.

Walthew is something of a burnt-out case when they arrive, and the story of this book is as much one of his own regeneration and coming to terms with his past, as it is an account of a life in the country.

As Walthew adapts to his new situation, it is his neighbour, Norman, a struggling, small-scale farmer (who barely acknowledges the new arrivals in the first few months) who gradually becomes the focal point of much of their day-to-day existence. Having lived what could be seen as a fairly typical modern life, flitting around the world for work and leisure, Walthew has his eyes opened to his own country by a man who has rarely left the area.

Through Norman – and his hard, battling, rustic life – Walthew develops a greater appreciation of what is there, and, just as importantly, what is being lost as the rural landscape – both social and physical – is irrevocably altered by 'progress'. It is a disappearing life – traditional farms pushed aside by bigger operations and developers catering to affluent lifestylers.

Walthew is not a hopeless romantic – he is well aware of the economic forces at work. But you can't help but feel that on many scores he's absolutely right, and while the country may be economically richer, it will be socially poorer as Norman and the likes are gradually squeezed from the land.

Well written and well constructed, this is an enjoyable, funny, often poignant book, and one that will resonate with many New Zealanders.'
Christchurch Press, October 2008

A Place in the Auvergne
A Place in My Country
Ian Walthew

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