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.
Jini Reddy is an award-winning author and journalist. Born in London to Indian parents from South Africa, she was raised in Montreal, Quebec, and now makes her home in the UK. Jini has a B.A. in Geography, an M.A. in English Literature and, increasingly, a passion for writing cross-genre, non-fiction narratives relating to landscape, travel, spirituality and culture. Her byline has appeared in the Guardian, TIME, The Times, The Sunday Times Style, The Sunday & Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, National Geographic Traveller, Resurgence & Ecologist and many other publications. Her first book, Wild Times, was published in 2016, and she is a contributor to the bestselling Winter: An Anthology for the Changing Seasons and Women on Nature.
– Shortlisted for the 2021 Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year Award
– Shortlisted for the 2020 Wainwright Prize for UK Nature Writing
"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
"A breath of fresh air."
"[An] effervescent exploration [...] Reddy's engaging narrative has an assurance and humour which both charm and convince."
– Elizabeth Dearnley, The Times Literary Supplement
"Witty and engaging."
– Tom Robbins, Financial Times, Best mid-year reads of 2020
"An honest, contradictory and refreshing take on nature writing."
– Conde Nast Traveller
"Funny and touching."
– The Mail on Sunday
"Candid, soulful and uplifting search for natural magic."
– The Lady
"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
"A page turner."
– Sunday Express 'S' Magazine
"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
"She rejects the stereotypes placed on people of colour, and crafts a beautiful story of self-discovery and exploration of the natural world."
– Brown Girl magazine
"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 (Editor's choice in The Bookseller)
"Wanderland is a skilfully crafted and touching memoir of self-discovery inspired by Britain's wild places."
– Mark Whitley, The Countryman
"A joyous celebration of the beauty we can see and the magic we can't."
– Tay Aziz, BBC Wildlife
" [...] doesn't just open your eyes to the Isles' mystical history, but also your mind to the possibilities of what spirits may be lurking there."
– Wanderlust magazine
"In this funny, touching book [...] we are left with a sense that Reddy really has made contact with something deep within herself that feels entirely new and special."
– Kathryn Hughes, Mail on Sunday
"Her easy style, genuinely questioning approach and willingness to take a wry look at her own self all carry the reader along in an engaging and often delightful tale."
– Stephen Moss, Resurgence & Ecologist