editor's choice

What’s in a hill? Tom Cox’s latest offering


We love Tom Cox. He’s rapidly become a favourite author, his writing poignant, funny, entertaining. Like many, we first encountered him via his musings on the much missed The Bear and his other fabulous felines. His subject matter is wide-ranging, from music to witches, toads to his shouty dad. His latest book, Ring the Hill, is beautiful in pretty much every way. A gorgeously produced edition with a very fine illustrative cover, it celebrates hills.

A hill is not a mountain. You climb it for you, then you put it quietly inside you, in a cupboard marked Quite A Lot of Hills where it makes its infinitesimal mark on who you are…

Although each chapter deals with a certain kind of hill, as with Cox’s other writing, it’s not just about admiration of the central subject, a knoll, tor or cap. Cox weaves his usual magic and we’re spellbound by stories of his grandmother, swimming, the Magic House and even, thank God his wonderful cats, Shipley, Ralph and my beloved The Bear, all tragic eyes, with the soul of a French philosopher. Still hills are the star. They’re just not the only story.

Ring the Hill is a book very much of its time. It complements Robert Macfarlane’s lyrical Underland, another book I can’t recommend enough for its sheer beauty.

These are books you go back to time and time again, dipping in and finding new things to marvel at. Books to take walking – yes up a hill – and read, head against a tree, marmite sarnie in hand, or on a lovely train journey, meandering its way through the countryside, where there’s time to stop and stare. Books that celebrate, educate. Books written with great heart. How can one not fall in love?

Oh, and another reason: there are leaping hares on the endpapers.


Ring the Hill | Tom Cox | Unbound | hardback | £16.99 | 3 October 2019

Please support your local bookshops and libraries

To follow Tom or any of his cats, living and not of this earth, please go to his site.

See also:The beauty of Tom Cox’s landscape’; ‘Meet Tom Cox




Acknowledgements: Book text © Tom Cox 2019. Photo of The Bear (we just had to), used for publicity reasons only. This review is published as part of the virtual book tour. Many thanks to lovely Anne Cater and to the publisher for supplying a review copy. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

See also: ‘My Judy Garland life’;In the Absence of Miracles‘; ‘By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept’; ‘Yvonne Battle-Fenton’s Rememembered‘; ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised‘; ‘We should all be feminists‘; The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’;Permission by Saskia Vogel‘; ‘Lisa Ko’s The Leavers, Dialogue’s brilliant debut; ‘RW Kwon’s The Incendiaries’; ‘Beauty in translation – Roxanne Bouchard’s French Canadian noir‘; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”‘; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love).

Select Q&As/interviews: Amanda Saint‘;‘Ausma Zehanat Khan’; Mary Balogh‘; ‘Louise Voss’; ‘Lilja Sigurðardóttir’; ’Tom Cox’; ‘Vanda Symon; ‘Gunnar Staalesen’; Some like it hot – the joy of Carole Mortimer, award-winning novelist


Film: The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) – a Billy Wilder classic?; Night Mail (1936), changing the face of British film; A Colour Box by Len Lye (1935); The Splendour of George Stevens’ Giant (1956).

This review is © 2019 by The Literary Shed. All rights reserved. All opinions are our own. We welcome your feedback and comments. If you wish to reproduce this piece, please do contact us to request permission. Thank you so much.



Tags : , , , , , , , , ,