Tuesday 18 February 2020

Book Review ~ Under the Stars by Matt Gaw

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Elliot & Thompson
20 February 2020

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Moonlight, starlight, the ethereal glow of snow in winter ... When you flick off a switch, other forms of light begin to reveal themselves.

Artificial light is everywhere. Not only is it damaging to humans and to wildlife, disrupting our natural rhythms, but it obliterates the subtler lights that have guided us for millennia. In this beautifully written exploration of the power of light, Matt Gaw ventures forth into darkness to find out exactly what we're missing: walking by the light of the moon in Suffolk and under the scattered buckshot of starlight in Scotland; braving the darkest depths of Dartmoor; investigating the glare of 24/7 London and the suburban sprawl of Bury St Edmunds; and, finally, rediscovering a sense of the sublime on the Isle of Coll.

Under the Stars is an inspirational and immersive call to reconnect with the natural world, showing how we only need to step outside to find that, in darkness, the world lights up.

What did I think about it..

I rarely go out after dark any more, and so I too fail to notice the impact of the night and how the elements look so very different in fading light. In Under the Stars, the author takes us a journey from the dark into the light with a special lyrical magic brought to life by his powerful description of the night sky and of how this exploration, not only made him appreciate the beauty of the night, but also how in using his senses in a different way it gave him a much greater awareness of everything he saw and experienced.

The author writes with warmth and delicate balance, explaining everything he saw and felt with a fine eye for detail and a joyous pleasure at the mystical pull of observation. Filled with a plethora of facts that you never knew you needed to know, Under The Stars is a real feast for all the senses. The author takes us on an enlightening journey, from the lure of moonlight in coastal Suffolk, the gaudy brightness of the city of London, the sheer brilliance pulled from the natural light over dark skies, and the ethereal splendour of starlight over The Isle of Coll in the Inner Hebrides, there is so much to enjoy in this beautifully written exploration of the night sky in all its majesty and unique glory.

There is so much we take for granted in our world, that we fail to recognise the beauty of nature as it surrounds us and it’s only when we take away the obvious can we appreciate what is there for us to see if only we would take the time to slow down and really look to see what’s happening when we allow the night sky, and nature, to speak directly to us.

Recommended : ✅ Absolutely if you enjoy nature, star gazing, moon gazing or just reading a beautifully written observational book about the natural world.

Under the Stars is published in ebook and hardcover by Elliot and Thompson on the 20th February 2020

About the Author

Matt Gaw is a writer, journalist and naturalist who lives in Bury St Edmunds. His work has been published in the Guardian, the Telegraph and the Times. He works with the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, edits Suffolk Wildlife, currently writes a monthly country diary for the Suffolk Magazine and is a director of the Suffolk Festival of Ideas.

Twitter @MattGaw


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