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Otter Country: In Search of the Wild Otter [Kindle Edition]

Miriam Darlington
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Over the course of a year, Miriam Darlington travelled around Britain in search of wild otters; from her home in Devon to the wilds of Scotland; to a sanctuary in Suffolk credited with saving British otters from extinction; to Cumbria, Wales, Northumberland, Cornwall, Somerset and the River Lea; to her childhood home near the Ouse, site of Virginia Woolf's drowning, and the source of her watery obsession.

Otter Country follows Darlington's search through different landscapes, seasons, weather and light, as she tracked one of Britain's most elusive animals. During her journey, she met otter experts, representatives of the Environment Agency, conservationists, ecologists, walkers, Henry Williamson's family, Gavin Maxwell's heir; zoo keepers, fishermen, scientists, hunters and poets. Above all she learnt how to track and be around otters, and that the stillness required to actually see this shy animal can bring many unasked-for wonders.

Written in mesmerising, magical prose, Otter Country will establish Darlington as a prominent voice in the new generation of British nature writers.

Product Description


‘You don't have to be an otter fanatic to love Darlington's book... Otter Country is proper nature writing, revealing as much about the writer's obsession with otters as of the animal itself and leaving us in awe of both -’ Sir John Lister-Kaye

‘Wonderful... her book is equal to its subject’ Carl Wilkinson

‘Beautifully evocative... Written in prose as sinuous as the creatures themselves... Otters apparently enjoy a rather illustrious club of fans. Readers of Ms Darlington will be glad she is among them’

‘Sharply observed and lyrically written’ Jason Goodwin

‘Beautifully written... A truly mesmerising and inspirational read’

‘The author is a teacher and poet who writes beautifully and informatively... I have no hesitation recommending this book’

‘Darlington is consistently an agreeable companion - inquisitive, but never a know-it-all, and frequently funny... I challenge anyone not to find [her] writing buoyant and inspirational’ David Profumo

‘A passionate journey, travelled beautifully’ Paul Evans

‘Otter Country captures the raw beauty of the landscape, distilling knowledge from some of the most renowned experts’

‘The writing is sublime ... a piece of sheer joy’

‘Miriam Darlington has written a personal tale of burning quest for one of the most charismatic of all our animals. It is a beautiful book full of sensuous lyricism, but it is also an important contribution to British writing on otters, a tradition in which this country is especially rich’ Mark Cocker, author

‘Otters are one of British conservation's success stories, and this wonderful book is their anthem. The strong clear writing, fascinating research and warm personal voice make it a lovesong not only to otters but to Britain’ Ruth Padel, author

‘Seeing an otter in the wild is one of the most precious and magical wildlife experiences that these islands have to offer, and Miriam Darlington captures that magic perfectly’ Neil Ansell, author of 'Deep Country: Five Years in the Welsh Hills'

‘Miriam Darlington belongs with writers like Mark Cocker and Paul Evans at the peak of the genre. If a better nature book is published this year, I would be very surprised’ Jim Perrin, author of 'West: A Journey through the Landscapes of Loss'

‘This is a diary of utter devotion where landscape is interpreted as otter-text, its messages elusive but traced with deep sensitivity’ Jay Griffiths, author

‘A book to restore that sense of nature red in tooth and claw and our place in amongst it... I turned the last page of Otter Country full of admiration’

‘I was immediately captivated. Darlington is a poet and her prose has a wonderful flow and lyricism... Her passion and forensic attention to her subject are infectious’ Julia Brigdale

‘This book will have you creeping along river banks and lying quietly by pools’

‘The known and loved landscapes of her past and present are evoked with as much care as she gives to her musteline quarry’ Esther Woolfson

‘Beautifully produced... a worthy successor to Tarka and Ring of Bright Water’ John Harding

‘It follows in the tradition of Gavin Maxwell and Henry Williamson, and stands comparison with both... Delightful’ Stephen Moss, Books of the Year

About the Author

MIRIAM DARLINGTON was born and brought up in Lewes, Sussex. A prize-winning poet, she taught French and English for twelve years, before becoming a full-time writer in 2007. Her poetry collection Windfall was published in 2008. She writes a regular monthly column in The Times: Nature Notebook. She lives in Devon with two children, one dog, two cats, four chickens and her husband.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1533 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (6 Sept. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008R96SLQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #77,392 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning! 12 May 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It is hard to sum up all the qualities of this stunningly beautiful, well written, thoroughly researched and highly readable book, other than by saying it is simply one of the finest books I have read in a long time, and engrossed me from the start.
Miriam Darlington is an accomplished poet whose deft observations of animals and nature are always engaging, and in Otter Country, her first venture into the world of prose, she doesn't disappoint. Split roughly into regional sections, as the author visits various parts of the country in search of the elusive animal, the book provides a fascinating overview of natural Britain, from the "True North" of Scotland, to the "wide curve of sand and mountainous dunes" of Northumberland, with its "gnarled, windblown hawthorns," taking in the Lake District and the surprisingly wildlife-rich canals of east London, to the "glittering river Dart" and the idyllic sounding environs of the author's local area, England's south-west.
There is a lot of thoughtful, insightful poetry and nature writing emanating from this part of the country right now, with writers like David Caddy, Mandy Pannett and Alice Oswald bringing the ancient land-and-water-scapes to life, and Miriam Darlington's fluent style of writing, non-judgemental observations and obvious love of wild animals fits perfectly into this poetic melting pot.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best nature book this year 30 Nov. 2012
By Marc
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
On the cover of Otter Country is a puff from Jim Perrin 'If a better nature book is written this year I would be very surprised.' As we approach December I think we can be safely say he was right. Otter Country is a delight; beautifully crafted, passionate and authentic, it chronicles Darlington's quest not just to observe but to understand the otter - and in so doing to discover more of herself. And it's this aspect - the willingness to place herself and her responses into the narrative - that I enjoyed so much. Too many supposed new-nature books use the landscape as a prop for the author's ego - reams of research material supported by a fleeting visit to the 'wild' (the much lauded Edgelands is a classic example). Otter Country is the real deal - Darlington's lifetime obsession is genuine, so too her initial naivety; her need for help, empathy and patience in understanding her subject - Otter Country is as much inner journey as outward quest. All this and exquisitely written too - I read it in a weekend, then again a month later - a rare event for me and further endorsement if it were needed.

Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Book on Otters 10 Sept. 2013
Darlington has a thing about otters, bordering on an obsession with them. In this book she shares that obsession. The otter was almost made extinct in this country, and were only made a protected species in 1978. Since then they have made an amazing recovery, assisted by the cleanup of the river systems across the UK, and there are signs of otters in a lot of rivers across the UK, provided you know where and how to look.

In this book she travels all around the country in search of the elusive otter, and meets with people who are possible more obsessed that her, including James Williams, author ofThe Otter Among Us. She goes to the Cardiff University to meet the people on their Otter Project, where they perform autopsies on otters that have been killed, mostly on roads, and collect DNA data from these unfortunate creatures.

There is not so many actual experiences of her encounters with otters, as she says they are elusive, and are often active at night, but this is as much about the experience of being close to the wildlife of the rivers and estuaries, and being immersed in the fantastic landscape of Western Scotland. But as she looks for evidence, she finds their trails and spraints in many places close to home and whilst on her travels. The few encounters that but she does document the few that she has.

This is also a book about the wider natural environment of the UK, whilst we do not have the same mega fauna of Africa, it is still a fascinating country that we live in, in terms of wildlife. I liked the writing style, it is very evocative and she gives you a wonderful sense of place.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely book- a great gift for otter lovers 11 Dec. 2012
By Jonas
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought Otter Country: In Search of the Wild Otter as soon as it came out in September 2012 and was immediately taken by the brilliantly evocative writing combined with a clear contemporary analysis of the state of the otter in the UK. The author describes Scotland, Northumberland and the Lake District with a skilfully poetic air. The book also has a great narrative structure and is also a page-turner. A highly recommended read for all nature lovers- eco-criticism of the highest order.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Believe the hype ... 7 Sept. 2012
By James
I bought this speculatively after reading the rave Guardian review that said the author had immediately catapulted herself into the company of the nature writing greats with this book - and they got it just about spot on! This is a great read - part journey across the country in search of the author's beloved otter and part excavation of this animal's literary past, this is really readable and rewarding stuff.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A book filled with beautiful prose and insightful information about...
A book filled with beautiful prose and insightful information about one of the UK's more elusive animals. Read more
Published 22 days ago by EllSimp
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant on so many levels
I gobbled up this book and am already planning to re-read it at a more leisurely pace. Brilliant on so many levels; the gorgeous prose, the author's sensitive connection with the... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Rachel
2.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to place the intended audience.
I wanted to like this book but it falls awkwardly between the line of an informative, resource book and a personal tale about the authors relation with otters and her attempts to... Read more
Published 4 months ago by James Warner Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars I found this an excellent book, well written and absorbing
I found this an excellent book, well written and absorbing. Usually I'm skeptical of the 'in search of' type book, but this is not an 'in search of' book like all the others, its... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Peter Rutt
5.0 out of 5 stars True Otter tradition!
A fabulous read for anyone who loves Otters and the natural world. Bought for a friend in Scotland who was absolutely thrilled, she has otters swimming in front of her house - so... Read more
Published 13 months ago by S G Cross
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book.
Miriam's total engagement with the subject together with her extraordinary way with words made this a beautiful and gripping read. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Rosemont
4.0 out of 5 stars Dive into Otter Country
This beautiful and readable book is the story of Miriam Darlington's continuing obsession with Britain's wild otters. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Wild Hare
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful
This is a truly lyrical account of Miriam's quest not only to find otters throughout mainland UK but to become otterfied in the process. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Cowgirl
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful account
This is a very elegantly written book. It's never sentimental but an honest and thought-provoking account of the life and times of a single species, but it's also a meditation on... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Puffin
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetry in Motion
I loved this book. The descriptive passages particularly held my attention. One description of a wintry riverscape so enthralled me that when, on my train journey, I looked up... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Brimstone
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