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Strands: A Year of Discoveries on the Beach Hardcover – 31 May 2012


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape; 1st edition, 1st impression edition (31 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224087452
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224087452
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 2.4 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 117,478 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Elegant memoir. For those for whom such encounters are a rare occurrence, reading this beautiful book is only a tide's whisper away from being on a beach itself and feeling the wind in your hair and the sand between your toes. (The Economist)

Compelling...well-contextualised, sharply-observed, clued up, environmentally aware and deeply researched. She writes a supple, attractive, gently ironic prose that brings alive this distinctive shoreline. (Independent)

Each sentence is as cunningly crafted as a piece of driftwood, a lyrical tribute to the meeting place of land and sea. (Mary Crockett Scotland on Sunday)

Sprackland's clean and unfussy prose, her powerful sense of atmosphere, gradually draw you in. If a book can have the appeal of a really good long walk, this one does. (Marcus Berkmann Daily Mail)

"Nature writing" is the Olympics of metaphor production, requiring technical agility and testing the writer's stamina for simile. In this respect Sprackland excels; her quick portraits of the sea's idiosyncratic cast-offs are inventive and precise.absorbing narrative. (Laurence Scott Guardian)

Book Description

An insightful and lyrical account of a year on one beach - part natural history, part meditation, part travelogue.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Kate on 3 Aug 2012
Format: Hardcover
Jean Sprackland introduces us poetically and elegantly to the hidden treasures found on English beaches. I thought this book was beautifully written and will treasure it on the bookshelf. Interesting facts and histories about shipwrecks, neolithic footprints and messages in bottles are told by a natural poet. It's a really fascinating and moving book mixing interesting information with philosophical and thoughtful commentary.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Christine on 3 Aug 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Both the sea and land have left this stretch of Lancs beach littered with objects from ancient wrecks, mysteries from the deep to human detritus, dropped tellingly, over a year. Every discovery is investigated and results examined forensically, by poet author, Jean Sprackland, leading to profound tales of forgotten lives, history of both human and nature's activites, to other places and times.. Evocotive, observant and a delight to read., Makes beachcombing into a profound and philosphocal activity as well as an art form...you will never walk a beach again without looking and learning about the human condition, our interaction with the sea, our thoughtessness. Forget volley ball and sunbathing, leave the lap top at home, gather stories from the beach this summer instead... real interaction. Christine
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Leslie N. Wilson on 28 Dec 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From the late 50s thro. to the early70s we lived in Great Crosby . Our Farther had a Co. car ( salesman ) and we spent a lot of weekends, both winter and summer on Ainsdale beach. My brother and I would collect coal washed up out of the ships bunkers that had been sunk in the channel leading to Liverpool, returnable lemonade bottles for the 3d refund, and of course lots of treasures from the tide line. I can remember us finding many of the items described in the book, except the Squirt!

In those early days the beach was still covered by 6/8ft. wooden poles sticking up out of the sand, we presumed to prevent planes landing during the war.

Behind the dunes was another very different area, low lying and marshy, in the spring a haven of wild flowers and nesting waders. We often used to find nests in the high water line, just a scrape in the sand usually with 4 brown spotted eggs.

I went to Southport Technical College, and in the Summer Holidays worked for the Council as a "Beach Cleaner Etc" according to my contract. Duties included selling Deck Chairs from a large stack, selling tickets to pitch a tent in the sand dunes ( no kidding!!!) The best job of all though was to follow the morning tide out in an old jeep, and mark anything obnoxious with a red flag for the "heavy gang " to pick up before the visitors arrived. Those early morning on the beach are some of my best memories, huge skys, air like champagne, you could see the Lake District, the north wales coast and further round Formby point,the Liverpool skyline.

We live far away now but still have relatives in the area so always pay a visit to the beach whenever we are visiting .

Jean, thank you for bringing back all these happy memories.

Best Regards,

Leslie N. Wilson.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stewart M TOP 500 REVIEWER on 30 Oct 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Beach combing or just wandering along a beach alone or in company must be one of life's great free pleasures. This is both the basis and the charm of this book.

All (nearly) of the chapters in this book could have been written about almost any beach anywhere in the world. However, the author still manages to generate a feeling of both place and uniqueness.

Things are found washed up on the beach: things that tell stories, things that remain mysterious, living things, things long dead. But the charm of the book comes form the realization that most of the stories could have been told about any beach.

So it's a book that manages to feel both local and general at the same time. It's a book that reinforces the idea that we can connect with a landscape wherever we find it - it does not have to be classically beautiful, exotic or inaccessible. We just need to spend time with it.

I'm not entirely convinced that all the material in the book is completely scientifically accurate -the section on the impact of anti-depressive drugs springs to mind here. But I am willing to forgive this, as I did not read the book on the assumption it would be a textbook.

Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Half Man, Half Book on 16 Oct 2012
Format: Hardcover
Sprackland visits the same beach time and time again, and her observations and findings over the seasons are detailed with poetic and thoughtful prose. The book is laid out in four sections that correspond with the seasons. The chapters within these sections split over all type of subjects, but atre always centred around items found or seen on this beach.

The book picks up on lots of other books that I have read, in particular Sightlines and Edgelands, Moby Duck and the Wild Places. These are all books that are written by authors who can evoke a particular time and a place effortlessly.

Well worth reading.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By helen lambert on 13 Aug 2012
Format: Hardcover
I heard part of this book when it was serialised on Radio 4. I found it fascinating and wanted the whole thing. I was telling my husband about it as he has a friend who lives by the beach the author writes about and bless him he bought us both a copy. It is about the authors exploration of a beach near Liverpool during the course of a year and how chance discoveries of the washed up flotsam and jetsam lead to intriguing stories. Some are biological, some historical and some ecological. All are very thought provoking about how we use and abuse the oceans of the world to the detriment of both ourselves and marine life. The book encourages you to take a much closer look at the environment we live in and not be satisfied with unanswered questions. When Jean finds something unusual she can't recognise she does the research; I particularly liked the tale of the sea mouse, which I had to Google so I could see one for myself.
Not only is it informative, it is a beautifully written book. I whole heartedly recommend it.
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