Shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction 2022
Polly Morland was clearing her late mother’s house when she found a battered paperback. Opening it, she was astonished to see an old photograph of the remote, wooded valley in which she lives. The book was A Fortunate Man, John Berger’s classic account of a country doctor working in the same valley more than half a century earlier. This discovery led Morland to the doctor who serves that valley community today, a woman whose own medical vocation was inspired by reading the very same book as a teenager. Interweaving the doctor’s story with those of her patients, reflecting on the relationship between landscape and community, and upon the wider role of medicine in society, a unique portrait of a twenty-first century family doctor emerges in A Fortunate Woman.
‘Polly Morland is a journalist and film-maker with a kindly, dramatic writing style and a feel for the human story . . . [A Fortunate Woman] deepens our understanding of the life and thoughts of a modern doctor, and the modern NHS, and it expands movingly to chronicle a community and a landscape – “the valley” itself is a defining feature of people’s lives.’ Kathleen Jamie, New Statesman
‘Morland writes about nature and the changing landscape with such lyrical precision that her prose sometimes seems close to poetry’ Christina Patterson, The Sunday Times
‘I was consoled and compelled by this book’s steady gaze on healing and caring. The writing is beautiful.’ Sarah Moss
‘Polly Morland and Richard Baker have more than done justice to the original John Berger book – and produced a work that stimulates the eye and mind in equal measure.’ Alain de Botton
Giving Pain a Voice
A lone doctor hares down a country lane in his Land Rover, his thumb jammed on the horn to warn the oncoming traffic that he’s not stopping. A woodman’s been pinned to the ground on a remote...Read more