Arts & Culture Opinion

Book Review: A Hopeful Manifesto for Change – Karen Lloyd’s Abundance: Nature in Recovery

Beth Barker's final book review for 2021 comes in the form of Abundance: Nature in Recovery, a collection of literary essays by Karen Lloyd, a writer from the Lake District in the North of England.

As we entered the autumn season, the shelves of bookshops were flooded with fresh literary talent. One book that stood out was Abundance: Nature in Recovery, a collection of literary essays by Karen Lloyd. With the climate crisis becoming increasingly urgent, the publication of this book felt particularly important and necessary.

Abundance is a work of art in which the literary and natural worlds collide. For many, nature writing can be overwhelming, but Lloyd’s writing is refreshingly accessible. The book’s purpose is to explore abundance and loss, in part concerning itself with the damage done to our environment. Lloyd writes:

“When I turn on the news or read a newspaper, I am assailed by all the losses in the natural world. The natural world is being flushed out.”

The book opens with a bold question: what kind of future will our children and grandchildren have on this planet? The reader gets the feeling that in this book, we’re going to find out. Throughout several essays, signifiers of change are explored, from the toxic algal blooms in the Lake District National Park to the ferocious Storm Desmond and floods that ensued. While these events and occurrences draw our attention to the ever-pressing ecological crisis, causing us to dwell on them is not the author’s intention.

“Something in my neural pathways blocks me when I try (admittedly not very hard) to imagine what things will be like for my boys – for my two young adult sons – and for their one-day families. Will they have families? Is it OK to continue having families?”

Abundance, I believe, is a book partly about hope and partly about seeing things in a new light. Told through joyous narratives that weave between well-researched facts and personal experiences, Lloyd’s essays provide a manifesto for change. She believes the solution to our problem is to reconnect with and repair our relationship to the earth – to encourage the alignment of humans and the natural world. As well as documenting the disasters we face, Lloyd also draws our attention to the incredible work done by conservationists and calls for education reforms to make natural education a priority.

Among other things, Lloyd’s work exudes a pure love for nature and what it has to offer us as individuals, communities and as an entire species. Whether it’s wolves, whopper swans, damselflies or beavers, these essays are full of passionate explorations of the world around us. Wild swimming and woodland hikes remind us that there is so much beauty to enjoy outside of our echo chamber – seeing it might just change our perspective entirely. “Let’s seed the idea of return through the seeding of languages that wander through the world. If we want it, all we need to do is imagine it into being: 3… 2… 1… go. Hearts and minds. What you don’t love, you can’t save. Save what you love.”

Karen Lloyd is a writer and environmental activist from the Lake District. Abundance: Nature in Recovery was published in September by Bloomsbury. You can purchase it here.


Words: Beth Barker 

Beth Barker is a writer and blogger from Blackpool. She is the co-host of Up North Books, a podcast celebrating books and writers from the North of England. 

Beth wanted to contribute a monthly review to NRTH LASS in order to shine a light on Northern women writing great books. The North is very much underrepresented in publishing and she hopes a monthly review throughout 2021 will showcase the talent Northern women have to offer.

For more book reviews and insights on publishing in the North, follow Beth on Instagram and Twitter.

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