Just from the cover alone I was already conjuring up vast tracts of time, movements of people and water, as well as all the associated bits of bone, tools and burn marks on rocks.
I wasn’t disappointed. The reader is treated to a short preface where Sinel romantises over epochs and the long journey taken by both humans and landscape. He does this in a pleasingly poetic fashion by tracing the history of a humble tree.
Being written in the early part of the 20th century a few terms are explained for the lay person, these terms I believe will be generally understood, or at least familiar to the modern reader. Clarifications are all well and good if the rest of the text is up to it, and Sinel’s writing is clear and always interesting, he is both knowledgeable and enthuisastic about his subjects and it makes the book a joy to read.
Our journey goes all the way back to the land bridge, the subsequent flooding and retreating of waters, a look at the wildlife and plants over time, a breakdown of classifications of different eras and sub eras of ages, and the occupations of the islands.
The back of the book also contains maps, photos, artwork, and details of excavations to add extra depth for the reading experience. It may a little thing but it helps forge a connection and a sense of wanderlust in pursuit of the spirit of antiquity these islands possess.
The control over the area of the Channel Islands by both sea and humans becomes mildly hypnotic after a while, which is another plus point for an unexpectedly pleasurable read. This is history done right and I loved it.