The Green Hill

By Sophie Pierce

Letters to a son

Biography | Nature
101% funded
386 supporters
Edits in progress

Publication date: TBC

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Dart Map Greetings Cards

The Dart Map is a beautiful painting of the Dart Gorge in Devon by Anna Dunscombe, showing its history, wildlife and legends. A pack of 5 greetings cards, left blank for your own personal message. Plus a signed first edition hardback, ebook and your name in the back of the book.
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Limited Edition Swimming Cap

A comfy swimming cap made out of high quality silicone. Made to commemorate the Darty Dozen – a mammoth swimming and walking adventure on Dartmoor to raise money for epilepsy charity SUDEP Action. Plus a signed first edition hardback, ebook and your name in the back of the book.
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Dart Map Tea Towel

The Dart Map is a beautiful painting of the Dart Gorge in Devon by Anna Dunscombe, showing its history, wildlife and legends. Reproduced on a 100% cotton tea towel. Plus a signed first edition hardback and your name in the back
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Two Copies

Two signed first edition hardbacks, eBook and two names in the back of the book.
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Dart Map Poster

A large poster of the Dart Map painting by Anna Dunscombe. Size: 710mm x 610mm. Plus a signed first edition hardback and your name in the back of the book.
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Dartmoor Rivers Diptych

A limited edition photographic print of a Dartmoor scene by artist Alex Murdin. Plus a signed first edition hardback and your name in the back of the book.
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Visit to Dartmoor

A day out on Dartmoor to include a visit to Bronze Age stone rows and circles, an optional swim and a Luxury Picnic prepared by Sophie’s husband Alex (voted Devon Life Home Chef of the Year in 2015). Plus a signed, first-edition copy, the ebook and your name in the back of the book. [Only 3 available] Travel and accommodation not included
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Author Talk

A talk from Sophie about wild swimming, epilepsy or grief at your school, university, company or club. Plus ten signed copies. [Only 5 available] Does not include Sophie’s travel or accommodation
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Help make this book happen by becoming a Patron. Includes two copies and your name in the back.
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Devon Hamper

A Devon hamper of food made and foraged by Sophie and her husband Alex, including a pack of dried mushrooms foraged on Dartmoor, seaweed salt with seaweed foraged from the South Devon coast, sloe vodka, home- smoked cheddar, home-made Apple Chilli Jelly and Marmalade made by Sophie. Plus a signed, first-edition copy, the ebook and your name in the back of the book.

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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

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