Read the powerful account of one woman's struggle to reshape her identity when all normality has fallen away.
When lifelong bird-lover Hannah Bourne-Taylor moved with her husband to Ghana seven years ago she couldn't have anticipated how her life would be forever changed by her unexpected encounters with nature and the subsequent bonds she formed. Plucked from the comfort and predictability of her life before, Hannah struggled to establish herself in her new environment, striving to belong in the rural grasslands far away from home. In this challenging situation, she was forced to turn inwards and interrogate her own sense of identity, however in the animal life around her, and in two wild birds in particular, Hannah found a source of solace and a way to reconnect with the world in which she was living.
Fledgling is a portrayal of adaptability, resilience and self-discovery in the face of isolation and change, fuelled by the quiet power of nature and the unexpected bonds with animals she encounters. Hannah encourages us to reconsider the conventional boundaries of the relationships people have with animals through her inspiring and very beautiful glimpse ofwhat is possible when we allow ourselves to connect to the natural world. Full of determination and compassion, Fledgling is apowerful meditation on our instinctive connection to nature. It shows that even the tiniest of birds can teach us what is important in life and how to embrace every day.
Hannah Bourne-Taylor is an author and photographer who moved to Ghana with her husband in 2013. She has worked for her husband's foundation, Ghana-based Right To Dream, to produce a film on gender equality in celebration of the charity's girls' program, and divides her time between Ghana and the UK.
"A while back, Hannah Bourne-Taylor [...] got in touch with me to ask for advice about hedgehogs [...] It was a bouncy and entertaining chat, which ended with her saying she had also written a book. Would I like to read it? I said yes, but with a slightly sinking heart, as I have too many books to read d already. However, two sittings later, I finished one of the best books I've read in ages. Fledgling is superficially about Bourne-Taylor attempting to rear two young birds while living in Ghana as a ‘trailing spouse' accompanying her husband in his work. The book is humorous [...] and she casts an illuminating poet's eye surroundings too. But what really surprised me was how swiftly I was drawn into the darker aspects of her experience, because, like many of us, she feels the natural world intensely and this pain is palpable when cruelty and carelessness cause suffering, or when life is needlessly snuffed out [...] This book is nurturing, honest, painful, beautiful and rewarding."
– Hugh Warwick, Resurgence & Ecologist 336, January/February 2023
"Fledgling is a marvellous and moving book. Heart-rending and heart-mending, it kindles a fierce love and sense of protection for the wild, making connection with other species the hearth of home."
– Julian Hoffman
"A story of hope told through encounters with nature far from home, Fledgling gladdens the heart."
– Stephen Moss
"A tender, passionate and absorbing memoir, shot through with love for the natural world."
– Lev Parikian
"A touching book with a good eye for the particular."
– Tessa Boase
"Returning to England from Africa, Hannah Bourne-Taylor has to remind herself that she is a human. At the end of the this haunting and joyously immersive book, the reader will need to do the same. The eyes through which we see the world are not just human eyes; the joys and terrors not just those of our own species; the barrier between us and them utterly stripped away."
– Richard Girling
"Through the story of Fledgling, Hannah Bourne-Taylor expresses the deep compassion towards other species which we all must all learn if we are to reverse the current catastrophic loss of biodiversity. Her observations remind us of the value of every life, whether of bird, pangolin, scorpion or human"
– Esther Woolfson
"Utterly charming. A book about love and longing, and the necessity of being needed. Nature lovers will find so much to move them in this warm-hearted, uplifting book."
– Cal Flyn