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

Miriam Darlington
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
RRP: 20.00
Price: 13.33 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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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: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 206,278 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
11 of 11 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
Format:Hardcover
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful 10 Oct 2013
By Cowgirl
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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. Her scholary credentials are very evident in the shamanic-like transformation she so ably describes from otter-obsessed to otter-informed, her occassional otter encounters culminating in her becoming as one with otters in their watery world. I look forward to being taken on another journey with Miriam's next book!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Book on Otters 10 Sep 2013
Format:Hardcover
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 7 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 9 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 10 months ago by PenM
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 10 months ago by Wild Hare
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 11 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 11 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 11 months ago by H. Beaton
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful Book
This book is a wonderful read. Well written in an easy style that brings the content of the book come to life. A book that all nature lovers should read.
Published 12 months ago by Ellie
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story!
Lovely relaxing book if you like otters, tho at one point I wondered if she would ever find one, but loved it!
Published 12 months ago by walby
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely book
A lovely book, beautifully written, which has kindled my interest in otters and made me want to learn more. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Debra
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