29 July 2021, The Tablet



The Secret History of Here: A Year in the Valley
(CANONGATE, 384 PP, £20)
Tablet bookshop price £18 • Tel 020 7799 4064

A few lines from Walter Scott might seem more appropriate to introduce Alistair Moffat’s Borders narrative, but a famous quote from Joan Didion comes first to mind: “A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.” And then requires amendment, dropping “claims”, “wrenches”, maybe even “radically”, all of which might work for California, for there is nothing quite so effortful in Alistair Moffat’s journal of a year spent in and around his home, the Henhouse, in a rural glen near Selkirk.

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