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The Living Mountain

A Celebration of the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland
Length: 4 hrs and 54 mins

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Publisher's Summary

In this masterpiece of nature writing, beautifully narrated by Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton, Nan Shepherd describes her journeys into the Cairngorm mountains of Scotland. There she encounters a world that can be breathtakingly beautiful at times and shockingly harsh at others. Her intense, poetic prose explores and records the rocks, rivers, creatures and hidden aspects of this remarkable landscape.

Shepherd spent a lifetime in search of the ‘essential nature’ of the Cairngorms; her quest led her to write this classic meditation on the magnificence of mountains, and on our imaginative relationship with the wild world around us. Composed during the Second World War, the manuscript of The Living Mountain lay untouched for more than 30 years before it was finally published.

©2019 Nan Shepherd (P)2019 Canongate Books Ltd

Critic Reviews

"The finest book ever written on nature and landscape in Britain." (Guardian

"Reading [The Living Mountain] seems to me to explain why reading is so important. And odd. And necessary. And not like anything else. There is no substitute for reading." (Jeanette Winterson)

"Most works of mountain literature are written by men, and most of them focus on the goal of the summit. Nan Shepherd's aimless, sensual exploration of the Cairngorms is bracingly different." (Robert MacFarlane)

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  • Elizabeth P. Fowler
  • 10-06-19

Timeless evocation of a mountain range

Nan Shepherd's classic work on the Cairngorm range is beautifully read by Tilda Swinton with the ecstasy of the writer herself. (Only a Scot could tackle all the Gaelic names so nicely!) Because the style is poetic and meditative, however, it should probably be read rather than heard. The superb Robert MacFarlane (from whom I first learned of the book) adds context to the work, and Jeanette Winterson contributes a personal perspective.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Diana
  • 05-09-19

magical and absorbing

Took a little time to get into but the more I listened, the more I was caught up in the beautiful prose and intriguing viewpoints, and now want to listen to it all over again. Loved Tilda Swinton's narration which was part of the beguilement.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Naomi
  • 28-07-19

beautiful and profound

what a wonderful audiobook. I'm about to start over listening again because there is so much here to absorb and enjoy

4 people found this helpful

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  • Jimmy Mc Donnell
  • 05-11-19

Nature writing at it's very best.

On my third listen of the LIving Mountain. Tilda Swinton's narration is understated, insightful, nuanced and maintains a rhythm entirely suited to the prose. If you have spent much time walking landscapes and observing life therein this book will take you on a dream like journey that I hope you will find as engrossing as I did. Enjoy.

3 people found this helpful

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  • tina
  • 03-08-19

really wanted to like this but struggled

Had read so many positive reviews of this and had fond memories of being up the Cairngorms as a kid but really struggled to stick with this. Might try again when I can't physically get up the hills.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Mrs M E Burstow
  • 03-02-20

Mesmerising

A wonderful listen, which is more like beautiful poetry. Definetly a book to listen to again and find new elements to enjoy.

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  • macleanJohn
  • 29-02-20

Aaaaaaaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhhh!!!!! Ruined!

Just listened to yet another mangled name, in this case 'Skeeehallion'
Nothing personal Tilda, but there must be a million more suitable readers, perhaps not famous, available.
Shame, it really spoils the reading. Should be listened to with a Scottish burr.

1 person found this helpful

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  • J. Drew
  • 24-03-20

Story or observation of a mountain beautifully read by Tilda Swindon

This book is a beautifully written set of prose that could almost be poetry to describe the mountains of the Cairngorms. The writer writes beautifully about the mountain and her experiences of living within its grasp and power. However, I personally found the book to be a bit dull. I love walking along mountains and I’ve walked some of the greatest treks and I can understand her sentiments, but it didn’t quite grip or enthrall me. Sometimes, the tales of the people who lived under the mountains and the rather sad events that happened to some of the walkers that were written down in the introduction I found moving, haunting and interesting. But for descriptions for mountains or walks, I prefer Robert McFarlane (who writes a lovely introduction) book ‘the old ways’ - I can see where he got the idea for running barefoot from. The audiobook is beautifully read by Tilda Swinton.

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  • anne hunt
  • 09-03-20

A remarkable book !

I have a treasured copy of this book which I return to again and again for comfort and inspiration. Tilda Swinton was the perfect choice to produce the audible version and I will treasure this as much as the paperback. In this age of mass tourism where we feel the need to go everywhere and see everything this book is a lesson in how to slow down and really experience the world around us .

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  • Natalie
  • 28-01-20

Exquisite

I plan to trek in the Cairn Gorm now.....it will be my second trip! as I've just finished my first trip with Nan Shepard.
So vivid was this journey into the living mountain that I feel so much more relaxed after the book, as one would after a beautiful holiday immersed in nature.
It took a little while to get onto the rhythm of the book, as it takes one time to get into the rhythm of a good trek into the mountains, but worth persisting, the rewards will be many.
The afterword by Jeanette Winterson on the essence of reading is so pertinent today that it alone deserves a review...5 stars , of course.

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  • A. V. S.
  • 20-01-20

Outstanding writing, brilliantly narrated

I cannot exaggerate how much I enjoyed listening to this book, as a result of both the captivating, precise and transporting manner in which Nan Shepherd writes, and the perfectly measured, cool and sensitive narration by Tilda Swinton. A pairing made in heaven. Robert MacFarlane's afterword is a wonderful summary of all the reasons why The Living Mountain is such an exquisite example of nature writing. I can't recommend it enough.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-09-19

Thoghtful

I loved the mountains she loved, although I have never been there, and may never visit.