Dart Map Greetings Cards
Limited Edition Swimming Cap
Dart Map Tea Towel
Dart Map Poster
Dartmoor Rivers Diptych
Visit to Dartmoor
Swim Safari With Sophie
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In The Green Hill, Sophie Pierce writes about the sudden death of her son Felix with an aching and gentle honesty. Struggling to come to terms with the loss not only of the young man he was, but everything that he would eventually become, she finds herself overwhelmed not only by grief, but also by love. Her writing is illuminated by a remarkable attention to the beauty and consolation of the natural world, and by the wisdom and tenderness which has been so painfully acquired. This is a book that will be a great comfort to those who need it. Sarah Perry, author of The Essex Serpent and Melmoth.
In 2017, Sophie Pierce’s life changed forever when her 20-year-old son Felix died suddenly and unexpectedly. Thrown into a new world of loss, she had to find a way to keep on living. In a series of letters to her son – composed during walks and swims taken close to his grave on The Green Hill in Devon – Sophie learns how to live in the landscape of sudden loss, navigating the weather and tides of grief. In the surroundings of Dartmoor and the South Devon coast she finds ways to continue the bond with Felix, both in her mind and with physical activity; actively mourning, rather than grieving.
The book celebrates the natural landscape and the role it plays in our lives and relationships, as well as looking at how we think about our own mortality. The Green Hill, Felix’s burial place by the River Dart, comes to symbolise the issues that become important in the journey of grief: nature, beauty, a sense of place, and the passing of the seasons.
The story starts when Sophie is on her way to Leicester to see Felix perform in a play at university. When she arrives, he is not at their meeting place. It transpires that he is in fact lying dead in his room. Sophie later learns that he has died from SUDEP – sudden unexpected death in epilepsy. The devastating effect this has on Sophie’s life is explored in the book which tells her and Felix’s story through letters she writes to him after his death, and first-person narrative. There are two storylines, present and past, the present uncovering how she deals with this unimaginable blow, and the past incorporating memories of Felix’s life. Through these strands the reader builds up a picture of the relationship between mother and son, and what happens when this broken by death.
The book shows how Sophie finds ways to continue the bond and recreate her relationship with Felix, both in her mind and with physical activity: pen on paper, needle on the fabric of the clothes he wore, and swimming and walking. She learns to focus on the landscape around her, the plants and trees, the rivers of Dartmoor and the sea off the South Devon coast, to somehow ‘be’ with him again.
What does it mean to experience sudden loss? And how do we mourn?
Grief is a universal experience that has gained new and acute urgency in recent times, with the world thrown into uncertainty by a seemingly invincible virus and by climate change. Suddenly, we feel ill equipped for the future. The Green Hill is one woman’s story of finding a way out of trauma and loss.
Picture credit for photo of Sophie at the start of the video: Frankie Mills