Shortlisted for the 2011 Costa Biography Award and the 2012 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize
Julia Blackburn and her husband moved to a little house in the mountains of northern Italy in 1999. She arrived as a stranger but a series of events brought her close to the old people of the village and they began to tell her their stories. Of how their village had been trapped in an archaic feudal system and owned by a local padrone who demanded his share of all they had, of the eruption of the Second World War, of the conflict between the fascists and the partisans, of death and fear and hunger of how they hid like like foxes in the mountains. 'Write it down for us,' they said, 'because otherwise it will all be lost.'
Thin Paths is a celebration of the songlines of one place that could be many places and a celebration of the humour and determination of the human spirit.
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My book of the year. Beautiful, beguiling, memorable - Edmund de Waal
Impossible to forget...beautiful and deeply humane - Sunday Times
Profoundly moving...absorbing...and compassionate... Blackburn writes beautifully and despite its sorrows, ThinPaths is full of humour and pulsating life - Scotsman
Marvellous... Her writing is as eloquent and elegant as ever - Literary Review
A lyrical patchwork of fine-grained nature writing - Independent
Reading Julia Blackburn's account of her life in a remote corner of the Ligurian mountains is like lifting a stone to find a strange, intricate, hidden world...prose that is ruthlessly unsentimental, but full of love - Intelligent Life
In Liguria Blackburn catches the last survivors, some in their nineties, in time to hear echoes of a culture that is already part of the past - Spectator
Julia Blackburn's thoughtful book has a poet's direct lyricism...a vivid, moving account - Metro
Blackburn brings her special gift for the art of place to this lyrical account of the Italian mountain village where she and her husband settled. Although she writes superbly about landscape and wildlife, it's her neighbours, and their haunting tales, who make the book sing - i
Julia Blackburn has written five books of non-fiction - Charles Waterton, TheEmperor's Last Island, Daisy Bates in the Desert, Old Man Goya and With Billie - a family memoir, The Three of Us, which won the 2009 J. R. Ackerley Award, and two novels, The Book of Colour and The Leper's Companions, both of which were shortlisted for the Orange Prize. She is the author of seventeen short stories specially commisioned by BBC Radio, a selection of which were published in My Animals and Other Family, and four radio plays, including The Spellbound Horses, which was broadcast in 2011.