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Otter Country: In Search of the Wild Otter [Hardcover]

Miriam Darlington
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 Sep 2012
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 Cumbria, Wales, Northumberland, Cornwall, Somerset and the River Lea; to her childhood home near the Ouse, the source of her watery obsession. Otter Country follows Darlington's search through different landscapes, seasons, weather and light, as she tracks one of Britain's most elusive animals. During her journey, she meets 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 learns 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 establishes Darlington as a prominent voice in the new generation of British nature writers.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (6 Sep 2012)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1847084850
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847084859
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 18.6 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 200,795 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

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 (Oversteps Books). She writes for The Countryman magazine, Resurgence and Archipelago. She lives in Devon with two children, one dog, two cats, four chickens and her husband.

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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 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 Sep 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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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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dive into Otter Country 19 Oct 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This beautiful and readable book is the story of Miriam Darlington's continuing obsession with Britain's wild otters. While another Richard reviewing the volume was disappointed that Otter Country was not a straight ahead account of the natural history of the otter, there is much to be learned about this elusive mammal from this book because what Miriam Darlington has spent much of her life doing is immersing herself both figuratively and literally into the otter's watery world. Every birder knows about 'jizz', the characteristics and feel of a species or family, that helps with identification - this book gives a real sense of the 'jizz' of the otter.

As the author recounts her forays to some of Britain's wildest places, she imparts information on otter biology and the story of its remarkable recovery, but this book is also an exploration of hers and our relationship with the (natural) world, a book about values. The otter is her entry point to a better understanding and perhaps the best way to describe Miram Darlington's relationship with the otter is to use Philip Pullman's concept of the daemon.

The book is beautifully written and that Mirian Darlington is also a poet is evident on every page. The writing is fluid and few books I have read have captured the essence of these island's watery habitats better than Otter Country.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 16 days 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 1 month 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 9 months ago by S G Cross
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous!
An awesome account of Darlington's adventurous quest to track down wild otters in the watery places of Britain. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Mad about wildlife
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 12 months ago by PenM
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 12 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 13 months ago by Puffin
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Book on Otters
Darlington has a thing about otters, bordering on an obsession with them. In this book she shares that obsession. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Half Man, Half Book
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 13 months ago by Brimstone
2.0 out of 5 stars Sorry, but...
As someone that knows otters well I was very excited about reading this book, thinking that this would be some sort of love letter to otters and one that I would wholly appreciate,... Read more
Published 13 months ago by H. Beaton
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