Today I am delighted to be hosting the blog tour for the wonderful Ring the Hill by Tom Cox.
A hill is not a mountain. You climb it for you, then you put it quietly inside you, in a cupboard marked ‘Quite A Lot Of Hills’ where it makes its infinitesimal mark on who you are.
Ring the Hill is a book written around, and about, hills: it includes a northern hill, a hill that never ends and the smallest hill in England. Each chapter takes a type of hill – whether it’s a knoll, cap, cliff, tor or even a mere bump – as a starting point for one of Tom’s characteristically
unpredictable and wide-ranging explorations.
Tom’s lyrical, candid prose roams from an intimate relationship with a particular cove on the south coast, to meditations on his great-grandmother and a lesson on what goes into the mapping of hills themselves. Because a good walk in the hills is never just about the hills: you never know where it might lead.
I’ve been a follower and admirer of Tom’s writing for quite some time now. I fell in love with his cats whilst following their antics on facebook and twitter, was unnerved and chilled by his collection of creepy short stories in Help the Witch and came to know him and our wonderful country a little better in 21st-Century Yokel. He also writes regularly on his website and I have to say that each and every article is thought-provoking and interesting. I feel that if I was ever to meet him in real life I would possibly feel like I was seeing an old friend. He is possibly used to this reaction from complete strangers though as his following seems to be growing and growing.
His latest book is a kind of memoir. Ring the Hill, as it states in the synopsis, is about hills, or is it? I received my copy on Friday. Although I knew that I would be writing this piece for the blog tour, I felt that I didn’t want to be rushed with my reading. It is such a delight to delve in to. Tom writes beautifully and he conjures up the most wonderful images of his world… no, our world, the world we often miss when we’re always busy, never just stopping and taking it all in.
He is incredibly knowledgeable, humourous (I loved how he described being outdressed by Clarence the pheasant!) and has such a connection with our world and nature that you can’t help but feed off of his enthusiasm. When he moves into a house he invests himself completely in the area and through his books brings them to us with a smattering of history and also anecdotes from his own adventures. After reading 21st-Century Yokel, it was a joy to hear about his parents again. I especially love the way his dad always TALKS IN CAPITAL LETTERS. At the root of it all is real affection and it is, as always, lovely to read. One of my favourite sections was reading about Steve and Johanna and their pilgrimage to the Tor, a place I have seen many times when driving towards the West Country and a place I have visited once. His books make me want to get out and explore this beautiful country even more. I also want to go out and buy an OS map for my local area and get out and explore it too. It’s amazing how much we miss just by ‘living’ somewhere. Who knows what I might discover… Tom always reawakens my interest in the world immediately surrounding me. We miss so much as we wonder through life with our noses pointed towards our phones or rushing from one task to another, Ring the Hill reminds us to stop and take a breathe. Wonderfully written and beautifully illustrated this is absolutely perfect for the coming autumnal evenings.
About the author
Tom Cox lives in Norfolk. He is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling The Good, The Bad and The Furry and the William Hill Sports Book longlisted Bring Me the Head of Sergio Garcia. 21st-Century Yokel was longlisted for the Wainwright Prize, and the titular story of Help the Witch won a Shirley Jackson Award.
You can follow Tom on Twitter at @cox_tom
Thank you to the lovely Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.