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Otter Country: In Search of the Wild Otter Hardcover – 6 Sep 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books; 1st Edition edition (6 Sept. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847084850
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847084859
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.9 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 214,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Hardcover
This is a jewel of a book by someone who is devoted to wildlife and knows how to get up close to it! I bought Otter Country because I have always loved otters and like many people have never seen one in the wild. The author not only shows you how to find otters but also her descriptions of witnessing this elusive animal are so well written that they are totally hypnotic. Darlington helps you to feel what it really feels like to encounter an otter, and as the sightings approach you tingle with excitement. All the hype about this book is true. The book is also packed full of beautiful descriptions of the British landscape and the chapters explore some wonderful parts of the country, even including some built up urban areas where you would never expect otters to be. It's a truly thrilling read and I couldn't put it down! The otter moments are awesome and after I finished reading I was gutted it was over and wanted to read it all again. It made me laugh out loud and it made me cry, and most of all it made me want to run to my nearest river and start looking for otters. Buy it for somebody for birthday or Christmas - it will make it magical.
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Format: Hardcover
There is much to love about this beautiful book: the way it shows the writer's personal quest, the quality of the research, the elegant writing, the sheer sense of engagement with these elusive animals that the reader is drawn into. I deeply appreciated the accounts of those rare encounters with the otters--peeping through the windows of a motor caravan, standing in waders in a bog, in freezing winter next to a lake in Wales. "Whenever we encounter extraordinary wild creatures, it takes a few moments to adjust. Our senses register a strangeness for a split second. The we might feel shock, as a prickle of recognition goes through our body." And even when the writer doesn't actually take us to meet otters face to face we grow familiar with their prints and their splaints and their habits. We are taken alongside the writer in her quest. As she tells us, "Whether I see it or not, holding it in my imagination requires something of me that is greater than all the weight of experience and scientific knowledge that I've been accumulating..." This book deserves all the praise it is receiving.
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