Alone on a remote mountaintop one dark night, a woman hears a mysterious voice.
Propelled by the memory and after years of dreaming about it, Jini Reddy dares to delve into the 'wanderlands' of Britain, heading off in search of the magical in the landscape.
A London journalist with multicultural roots and a perennial outsider, she determinedly sets off on this unorthodox path. Serendipity and her inner compass guide her around the country in pursuit of the Other and a connection to Britain's captivating natural world. Where might this lead? And if you know what it is to be Othered yourself, how might this colour your experiences? And what if, in invoking the spirit of the land, 'it' decides to make its presence felt?
Whether following a 'cult' map to a hidden well that refuses to reveal itself, attempting to persuade a labyrinth to spill its secrets, embarking on a coast-to-coast pilgrimage or searching for a mystical land temple, Jini depicts a whimsical, natural Britain. Along the way, she tracks down ephemeral wild art, encounters women who worship The Goddess, falls deeper in love with her birth land and struggles – but mostly fails – to get to grips with its lore. Throughout, she rejoices in the wildness we cannot see and celebrates the natural beauty we can, while offering glimpses of her Canadian childhood and her Indian parents' struggles in apartheid-era South Africa.
Wanderland is a book in which the heart leads, all things are possible and the Other, both wild and human, comes in from the cold. It is a paean to the joy of roaming, both figuratively and imaginatively, and to the joy of finding your place in the world.
"Warm, open-minded and endlessly curious, Jini is an ideal guide to Britain's more unusual places and people. Wanderland is a truly engaging exploration, full of heart and soul."
– Melissa Harrison
"What a wonderful book Wanderland is! A witty, gentle, original and very modern quest for the magical (not the mythical) in Britain's landscape, which both made me laugh and moved me. I wish Roger Deakin could have read this book, for he would surely have recognised a kindred spirit in Jini Reddy."
– Robert Macfarlane
"Curious and tenacious, Jini learns to accommodate both solitude and the gifts of chance, discovering at last a new way of being, a new way of seeing, a new way of listening to the complex voices of this archipelago – animal, aerial, human and other-than-human."
– Katharine Norbury
"With an unusual but timely eco-spiritual edge, and an alluring blend of memoir and nature-writing this touches on themes of identity and belonging as it charts how a restless spirit fell in love with her native land."
– Caroline Sanderson, Editor at The Bookseller
"Wanderland is extraordinary, unique even, standing apart from recent books about the British countryside [...] .. She is, she declares, lovesick: at times her prose has a dreamy, almost erotic charge."
– Ben Hoare, Countryfile