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Tarka the Otter (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Henry Williamson , Jeremy Gavron
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

7 May 2009 Penguin Modern Classics
In the wild there is no safety. The otter cub Tarka grows up with his mother and sisters, learning to swim, catch fish - and to fear the cry of the hunter and the flash of the metal trap. Soon he must fend for himself, travelling through rivers, woods, moors, ponds and out to sea, sometimes with the female otters White-tip and Greymuzzle, always on the run. Eventually, chased by a pack of hounds, he meets his nemesis, the fearsome dog Deadlock, and must fight for his life.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (7 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141190353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141190358
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 228,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'The supreme writer of the English countryside' - Christopher Somerville, Daily Telegraph

About the Author

Henry Williamson is regarded by many as Britain's finest nature writer. He was born in London in 1895 but his work is rooted in the north Devon countryside where he went to live after being deeply affected by his experiences in the First World War. He published some fifty books, a mix of country stories, most famously Tarka the Otter and Salar the Salmon, and autobiographical fiction, including the fifteen-volume novel cycle, A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight. He died in 1977.

Jeremy Gavron is the author of five books, including The Last Elephant: An African Quest, and three novels, Moon, The Book of Israel, which won the Encore Award, and An Acre of Barren Ground.


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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bright future for otters? 15 July 2009
By Greshon
Format:Paperback
A whole different kettle of fish from wildlife novels by other authors, such as Watership Down and the Duncton chronicles. In fact, reading this really sheds light on just how fantastical those other books are. This, on the other hand, attempts much more to get inside the skin of a 'real' creature - in this case an otter. Tarka and the other creatures that inhabit the book, not as intelligent as those fantasy rabbits and moles, are believable as animals. Tarka doesn' talk, is moved by animal instincts, forgets quickly, and he has few human emotions, except only very basic ones such as anger, fear and love. Williamson tries to project himself much les on his animals.

As well as featuring incredibly emotive and beautiful descriptions of the English countryside, minutely observed, this is a violent, brutal and bloody book (said by some to be influenced in this respect by WW1). It is also very sad. It makes you hate not only otter hunting but all the other wilfully, carelessly destructive things that humans inflict on our landscape and those that live in it.

Survival is tough for these otters, tough for all the creatures that inhabit the Two Rivers system (the Taw in north Devon). For the otters, at the top of the food chain, survival is only made tough by the humans, who hunt them relentlessly. Yet in the 1920s, when Tarka was written, otters were sill plentiful in Britain. Hunting wasn't responsible for decimating their numbers. This was caused by agricultural chemicals mainly used after WW2. Changes in regulations have now meant that the most harmful of these chemicals are no longer used, and with the reintroduction of otters into many British rivers and hunting outlawed, it can only be hoped that these beautiful creatures have a bright future here.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unsurpassed, and ever shall be 17 May 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
If you only ever read one book, this should be the one. Although it details the life and death of an otter in the beautiful north Devon countryside, it is much, much more than that. This book was an education and an inspiration to me; it was something to aspire to as I set out on my own modest writing career. Williamson's rich descriptions of wildlife and the countryside are beyond compare - unsentimental yet woven with a love of life with all its small miracles and hidden drama. When I used to stand at my parents' window and look across the River Taw to Williamson's lonely, distant cottage, or walk on wild Exmoor, I could understand how this earthy and compelling area could inspire him to write such a story. And what a story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tarka 13 Jan 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a brilliant book, lovely the way it's written and described. I loved it and recommend it to anybody.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Childhood memories 14 July 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Absolutely my most favourite book as a little girl. It made me fall in love with animals and the countryside and probably had some influence on my last 24 years of vegetarianism.
I have tried to encourage my daughter who is 9 to read this but alas as it contains no magic or vampires she is not interested!
A brilliant book!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Classic read 21 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I first read this book as a 10 year old and was moved to tears by it. After a holiday to North Devon and walking long stretches of the Tarka Trail I decided it was time to take another look at this story. I am so glad that I did. Henry Williamson must have spent hours and hours studying every living thing to capture in words their mannerisms sounds and presence. The actual story of Tarka as everyone knows has a sad ending but what is also sad to read is the persecution directed towards otters, at the time of writing, all in the name of "sport". Certainly made me think about how cruel the world can be. This is a classic read, maybe not the easiest for children but as an adult, I really was moved by it. Brilliant.
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