Led By the Nose
A Garden of Smells
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Not since Laurie Lee or Flora Thompson has a writer captured the smells and moods of the English countryside in the manner of Jenny Joseph’s Led By The Nose. The nation’s favourite poet has tended her “rural slum” in the Cotswolds for decades and her calendar of a year in her garden grows into an evocation of a personality that is uniquely literary, often leading the reader off her garden path with the sharply sly humour of her famous old woman who wears purple. Jenny Joseph’s memoir of a year in her garden through the sense of smell captures the feel of each month, as well as the flow of the gardening year (the chores to be done, the joy as your garden blossoms). The calendar of a year in her garden displays a personality that is eccentrically loveable, a wilful personality with her own individual outlook on life. The book’s unfolding of Jenny Joseph’s personality is just one of its many delights. Jenny Joseph focuses on the sense of smell, powerfully evoking memories and images that only a writer of her originality and perception could capture in the full range of thoughts and feelings a garden can stir in us. As one critic has said of Jenny Joseph’s work: “Her back garden, like Emily Dickinson’s, has room for most of what one can imagine about the world.” Led By The Nose has the unconventional viewpoint, sensual awareness and sharpness of observation to make it a classic of English writing.