The Wolf Pit by Will Cohu

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The Wolf Pit by Will Cohu

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Buy The Wolf Pit by Will Cohu at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Autobiography
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: An atmospheric look at the lives and landscape inhabited by his grandparents on the north Yorkshire moors. Recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: July 2013
Publisher: Vintage
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0099542353

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Up on the north Yorkshire Moors there’s a feature of the landscape known as the Wolf Pit. It’s thought to be a medieval trap into which wolves were driven, but as you get close to it, it’s difficult to locate, marked only by a change in the light, a slope of the ground. Will Cohu doesn’t concentrate on the pit but rather on nearby Bramble Carr, the remote moorland cottage to which his grandparents moved in 1966, almost on a whim and certainly with insufficient thought. George Brook was a manager at ICI in Billingham and Dorothy was an artist and musician. They’d been brought together by a shared love of the arts but once installed at Bramble Carr and with little more than each other for company the marriage deteriorated into dark silence.

Cohu obviously has great affection for Bramble Carr and the area which surrounds it, even retreating there after his grandparents had left when he was in personal distress. The wolf pit is an elegant metaphor for the lives his family have led, but ‘’The Wolf Pit’’ is an exploration of the love he has for them - faults and all - and for the landscape which shaped them. Or did they retreat there because it suited their natures?

Cohu spent many summers and winters at Bramble Carr - his father was in the RAF and it was his grandparents who provided the closest semblance of a home live, although they did give him love and affection. He fitted into the family life there with ease - and into the close-knit community of nearby Danby. Winters are bitter and the weather can be extreme: he tells of the shepherd probing the head-high snow drifts for his sheep, only to find later that he was standing on top of twenty of them. The pub landlord was obsessed with militaria and would happily spend his time polishing his collection of over two thousand cap badges. The village doctor was most alive when he was out on his beloved moors.

The writing is atmospheric, both with regard to the people and the landscape. Cohu captures the nuances of the mind which is out of kilter - depression runs through the family like a crack in a wall. As he looked back through the family’s history he could run his fingers down a history of marriages which were less than rewarding to either party - and the fault lines in Cohu’s own marriage gave way in the course of writing the book. I’ll confess to finding some of this very difficult reading, but for personal reasons as it evoked - with shocking clarity - memories of my own family history. It’s not facts which do this - it’s intentions and the complete lack of care about someone else’s welfare.

On the landscape Cohu’s writing is exquisite. I was constantly surprised that he could bring to life such vivid images in so few words. He’s particularly good on the winter moorland and the way that snow changes it. I’d like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals then we think that you might also enjoy The Ash and the Beech by Richard Mabey.

Buy The Wolf Pit by Will Cohu at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Wolf Pit by Will Cohu at Amazon.co.uk


Buy The Wolf Pit by Will Cohu at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Wolf Pit by Will Cohu at Amazon.com.

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