10 Magnificent Quotes From The Shepherd’s Life

James Rebanks, the author of ‘The Shepherd’s Life’ captures the eloquence and beauty of the land his family has been on since 1420 in this novel. After clashing into modern day technology when he started a Twitter account, Rebanks shares his story of growing up in this storied landscape in what is considered to be his memoir. Here is a look at some of the best quotes from ‘The Shepherd’s Life.’

“And then we do it all again, just as our forefathers did before us. It is a farming pattern, fundamentally unchanged from many centuries ago. It has changed in scale (as farms have amalgamated to survive, so there are fewer us of ) but not in its basic content. You could bring a Viking man to stand on our fell with me and he would understand what we were doing and the basic pattern of our farming year. The timing of each task varies depending on the different valleys and farms. Things are driven by the seasons and necessity, but not our will.”

“As writers have long noted, it is an intimate landscape on a human scale. Whitewashed farmhouses hug the fell sides just beneath the ancient common land of the fells. Other farmsteads dot the valley floor on higher ground, or riggs, that rise from the rushes of the sodden land in the valley bottom, including the one where my grandfather lived. We are one of maybe 300 farming families who sustain this landscape and its ancient way of life.”

“Books were considered a sign of idleness at best and dangerous at worst.”

“He joined the ranks of the great uprooted, but educated, English middle class. He suspected, rightly, that his old friends thought him a ‘snob’. But he made new friends, middle-class ones, who read books and did middle-class things like climbing, walking and daydreaming of adventures in foreign lands. But you can’t help feeling that he was always a little isolated in his new world, never quite fitting in – a little lonely, his cleverness like a millstone around his neck.”

“It is a curious thing to slowly discover that your landscape is loved by other people. It is even more curious, and a little unsettling, when you discover by stages that you as a native are not really part of the story and meaning they attach to that place.”


“Later I would understand that modern industrial communities are obsessed with the importance of ‘going somewhere’ and ‘doing something with your life’. The implication is an idea I have come to hate, that staying local and doing physical work doesn’t count for much.”

“So theirs was not like Hollywood movie love; more like the love between crocodiles.”

“The only way out was to go back the next year and buy his sheep and pay over the odds to make up for it, so he did. Neither of these men cared remotely about “maximizing profit” in the short-term in the way a modern business person in a city would; they both valued their good names and their reputations for integrity far more highly than making a quick buck. If you said you would do a thing, you’d better do it.”

“This crappy, mean, broken-down school took five years of my life. I’d be mad, but for the fact that it taught me more about who I was than anything else I have ever done. It also made me think that modern life is rubbish for so many people. How few choices it gives them. How it lays out in front of them a future that bores most of them so much they can’t wait to get smashed out of their heads each weekend. How little most people are believed in, and how much it asks of so many people for so little in return.”

“We don’t give up, even when things are bad. We pay our debts. We work hard. We act decently. We help our neighbours if they need it. We do what we say we will do. We don’t want much attention. We look after our own. We are proud of what we do. We try to be quietly smart. We take chances sometimes to get on. We will fail sometimes. We will be affected by the wider world… But we hold on to who we are.”

Are you curious what other readers thought about with ‘The Sheperd’s Life.’ Here is a great book review that captures the profoundness of this novel.

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