This Luminous Coast
Publication March 2011
Hardback 220mm x 165mm
with black and white photographs by the author throughout
Winner of the 2013 New Angle Prize for Literature.
First prize winner in the Nature and Placecategory at the 2011 EDP/Jarrolds East Anglian Book Awards
Short-listed in the Best Non-Fiction Book 2011 category by the Writer's Guild of Great Britain
"One of the most beautifully produced modern books I have ever handled, inspiredly illustrated and designed" - Robert Macfarlane
Over the course of a year, Jules Pretty walked along the edge of the East Anglian bulge, completing 400 miles on foot and a further 100 miles in a variety of boats. This is a coast that is about to be lost: not yet, perhaps, but soon. A thousand years ago a king commanded the waves to retreat to show human futility in the face of nature. Others built sea walls and estuary defences. Small stretches of cliffs provided natural protection, as did shingle heaped into banks. Sea walls were raised, yet still churches, houses and whole settlements fell into the sea.
This process continues inexorably. In 50 to 100 years it is possible that no landscapes by the sea will survive quite as they are today. What, some may ask, is there to lose?
This Luminous Coast is Jules Pretty's exhilarating but disturbing answer to that question. Pretty, a noted East Anglian academic and environmentalist, takes the reader with him on a journey over land and water, over sea walls of dried grass, beside stretched fields of golden cereal, alongside white sails gliding across the intricate lacework of invisible creeks and estuaries, under vast skies that are home to curlews and redshanks and the outpourings of skylarks.
"I read this book with growing enjoyment and admiration. It is a model of what close observation can bring to the best of English topographical writing. Combined with an acute ear for the local and the particular" - Ken Worpole, author of 350 Miles: An Essex Journey
"This Luminous Coast combines an acute awareness of the threats posed by environmental change with a wonderful eye for the scenes and stories of the East Anglian coast, resulting in a work which will instantly join a very distinguished line of books based on walks, from H D Thoreau to W G Sebald, all now recognised as speaking through their particular locations to universal concerns."
- Peter Hulme, Professor in Literature, University of Essex
This Luminous Coast