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Leonie Charlton’s captivating memoir: Marram

On the inside of the windowsill is a stem of Marram Grass I found in the saddlebags after the trip. It is sharp and lucent. It reminds me of how I’d felt coming home, bright and still after all those slow-spent hours in the marram and cotton grass.”

There is something ageless about Marram: It is a collection of snapshots, woven together over the course of a journey and carefully placed beads: almost like breadcrumbs of traced memories. The pace is gentle travelling by pony, allowing deeper connections, both between Leonie and her friend Shuna, the people they encounter along the way, with their ponies, the past and the land itself.

David Gange, author of The Frayed Atlantic Edge, puts it beautifully in the Foreward: “To take a pony through Atlantic islands is therefore to enter the richest of worlds. To travel slowly, in ways constrained by weather, terrain, and other species, is to reconnect with the many things that a society formed round city and car quarantines us from. I’m not sure there’s any better way of expanding our capacity for empathy with those who live or lived outside commercial, urban, fossil-fuel societies, than undertaking a journey such as Leonie’s.”

Indeed, even the title: “Marram” is perhaps symbolic. The roots of the marram grass bind and hold the sand dunes fast. Our first line of defence against the rising tides. Beautifully written: every word matters.

Marram is the story of how I found new relationships with my mother and myself. It is also a love story of place, not just of how environment renews and nourishes us as human beings, but also of how our wakefulness, our attentiveness, may give something back in return. We leave behind footprints steeped in appreciation, and perhaps the best gift of all to the sand and peat, two sets of smooth footprints.”

About the Author:

Leonie Charlton travelled extensively as a child, living in England, Africa, Wales and Scotland. She has worked as a cowgirl in Australia, an English teacher in Japan, and her degree in Hispanic Studies took her to Catalonia for two years. Marram is her first full length book, although her fiction and poetry have appeared widely in magazines and online.

Marram (Sandstone Press 2020), Waterstones’ April 2022 Scottish Book of the Month, is available to buy here:

Leonie Charlton

Leonie Charlton