Review published on May 15, 2017.
The hare is one of those elusive animals that is rarely seen. These creatures have a completely different way of living to the similar looking rabbit, a creature that they are frequently mistaken for. The book begins with chapters on the natural history of the mountain hare and the common hare, full of the details that they have gleaned about the way that they live and rear their young. There are a couple of chapters on the way that they were hunted for food, including some recipes and the way that they were sadly hunted purely for the sport.
However, the majority of the book is filled with fascinating stories and details of the way that the hare has been a part of imagination and our culture, stretching way back to ancient myths and cave art. The authors look at of the folklore associated with the animals, look at the tales behind them supposedly changing into witches, and the stories that connected the hare to the moon, fire and other tricks that it could play.
Evans and Thomson’s book is a rich account of this enigmatic creature. It is not so strong on the science and natural history of the hare, but they have brought together the vast number of myths and legends that the hare has been associated with and made it a fascinating read. Their interviews with people from all walks of life in the country have given us a direct link to a long forgotten way of life and it is a reminder of when seasonal change was just that. This reissue of a classic not only is timely as more people looking to discover further aspects of the countryside. One for every natural history bookshelf.
Paul Cheney 3/3
The Leaping Hare by George Ewart Evans and David Thomson
Faber & Faber 9780571336050 pbk Apr 2017