Hugh Warwick has a remarkable talent. `A Prickly Affair: my life with hedgehogs' is a funny, informative, moving and entertaining book that I would never have imagined buying for myself. (After all, I'm a singing teacher - why would I want to learn about hedgehogs?) And now I find myself persuading all my friends to read it! Warwick has managed to combine a magpie mind, a gift for story and comic timing, an encyclopaedic knowledge of all things hedgehog, insights into evolution, and an ability to convey a coherent picture of humanity's place in the planet's ecology, and how the life and fortunes (fair or foul) of hedgehogs reflect our pattern of relating to the actual world and non-renewable resources.
This is a book you could give anyone, for any special occasion, or just for the sheer joy of giving someone a book.
While I still think that people who run animal rescue shelters, or fill their home with stray fauna, are still probably eccentric or obsessed, and have a slightly lop-sided view of humans (not all of us are wicked animal abusers ...), they do have a point. In our quest to have everything our own way and one hundred percent convenient and comfortable, we do untold and inexcusable damage to our own habitat, the environment that we need to understand and respect if we are not to paint ourselves into an evolutionary corner. And the hedgehog kingdom is a perfect example from which to learn about how to re-establish a healthier relationship with the countryside and our planet.
But this is emphatically not a `preachy' book. It is hilarious, touching, personal, engaging, and fascinating. I look forward to whatever topic Hugh Warwick chooses next to write about. I don't care what it is, or how irrelevant I think it is to me or anybody else. I shall buy the book.