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Underwater to Get out of the Rain: A Love Affair with the Sea [Hardcover]

Trevor Norton
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Mar 2005
This is the beautifully told tale of Norton's growing love of the sea, from family holidays in Whitley Bay as a boy, to his first over zealous attempts at diving. All that we know and love of the British seaside weaves throughout this funny, nostalgic and richly told memoir. Fortune telling gypsies found on crumbling promenades, lighthouses standing to attention, fishing villages giving way to arcades and brass bands and sand-playing in the bracing chill of a British summer. Throughout, Norton introduces us to a eclectic mix of sea-loving characters all of whom have helped to inform and shape his own journey to becoming a marine biologist. Like the early guides to the seashore by the Naturalist Philip Henry Gosse as much a part of the myth and history of the British coastline as fishermen's tales of mermaids and eerie monsters beneath the waves. This is both a history and a memoir of an enduring, if at times perplexing, love of the sea that won't fail to resonate with all who have had felt the pull of the shores.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Century (5 Mar 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0712638849
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712638845
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.8 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,416,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"'A rich and absorbing blend of autobiography, science and adventure'" (Sunday Telegraph)

"'a wonderfully readable memoir, full of amazing facts and funny stories, but ultimately an elegy for a fast-disappearing world'" (Daily Mail)

"'Norton relates his struggles and fascination with genuine warnth and humour'" (Irish News)

"Lovers of the sea and sands will be swept away by Under Water to Get Out of the Rain in which distinguished marine biologist Trevor Norton writes so lyrically that you can taste the salt of his bonding with the oceans, from the submarine lava tunnels of Lanzarote, to the kelp forests of California and the pure silver strands of the Hebrides" (Sunday Times)

"'Trevor Norton's beautifully written memoir of a life spent probing and pondering the sea depths derives much of its power from his observations ashore. . . . What he saw is described with a novelist's sensibility and eye for detail. . . . And his literate, witty, luminous prose makes this a marine biology to cuddle up to. This is a book to take to the seaside and to bed.'" (Guardian) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

The tender and funny portrait of Norton's discovery of the sea and his exploration of a very British love affair with the seaside. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true pleasure 30 May 2007
By Ben
Format:Hardcover
I have just read this captivating read on a recent diving holiday to Sardinia. Despite only a passing interest in marine life, Trevor Norton talks with such well-researched enthusiasm about his varied subjects that you cannot fail to be captivated by each chapter. From the sex life of algae to accidental trysts with amorous dophins the range of subjects covered is considerable. i truly enjoyed every single page and reading this was a pleasure.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly a love affair with the sea 7 Nov 2010
Format:Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase
Under Water to Get out of the Rain
Trevor Norton
This book heralds another delightful marine adventure by Norton, who has written two other beautifully crafted, and wonderfully humorous, books about the characters he has met, and some of the adventures he has had, in a lifetime as a marine biologist. It starts out with his memories of his childhood home, on St Mary's Island, Northumberland, before whisking us away to a series of globally-based adventures: Devon, via Liverpool to the island of Anglesey, North Wales, to his first encounter with the Port Erin Marine Laboratory, where... `I was the least famous marine biologist ever to work on the Isle of Man'. From Port Erin we are whisked over the oceans to Lanzarote, in the Canary Islands, where by chance, I happened to read the book. How changed the Canaries are today from the time when the party of "least famous marine biologists" were met on the quay by Don Mariano López, local dignitary and ex-mayor, who arranged for their luggage to be taken away by donkey cart while inviting the all-too-rare visitors to join him in an eight-course lunch, followed by coffee and cognac.

As one follows his ocean-bound circumambulations, back to Scotland, and the Scottish Islands, to Lough Ine, in the Southwest of Ireland - where he based his book, Reflections on a Summer Sea - to San Juan Island, Washington, then the Monterey California of Steinbeck's day, every journey is imbued with characteristic charm and wit, and all the while enlivened by his sharp observation of the idiosyncrasies of human nature.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A real revelation 27 Jan 2012
Format:Paperback
I read this because I love autobiography and was fascinated by the title - I had no idea that I had any interest at all in marine biology - but I have discovered that it is riveting! Trevor Norton has done that really difficult thing in writing his own memoirs in a very amusing and light way, he has succeeded in interesting the reader in his own subject - simply because he doesn't take himself too seriously. We discover that he is climbing the career ladder completely by the way, whilst he is busy regaling us with hilarious tales of his time in the middle east or the US. I have driven my husband mad by snorting with laughter, reading bits out and telling him he simply MUST read this book next. What a discovery! I shall now read all his other books. If you read this, Professor, thank you, for a great read, if only there were more experts who could write so interestingly out there, we'd all be a lot more educated in all sorts of fields we never dreamed could interest us!
GLH
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Funny, Informative Life of a Marine Biologist 2 Jun 2006
By R. Hardy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Trevor Norton is one of those lucky men who picked up an enthusiasm when he was a boy, nurtured it through his schooling, and kept at it through a happy lifetime of academic involvement within it. In _Underwater to Get Out of the Rain: A Love Affair with the Sea_ (Da Capo), he lets us in on why he has spent as much of his life as he could under the water, and whether you want to join him there or not, he does make a convincing case for a life passionately and usefully spent. After all, how many other experts on kelp do you know who may have changed the tactics of a war? In 1982, when British troops were dispatched to the Falklands because Argentina had invaded them, Norton was called up by an official from the Ministry of Defense: "'Are you the seaweed chappie?' said a man with a pound of plums in his mouth. 'Just a wee enquiry. I've been led to believe there are exceptionally large seaweeds off the coast of the erm... Falkland Islands.'" Norton confirms this, and explains that stems of the kelp might tangle the propellers of landing craft, but that there would be less of it in sheltered coves and inlets. "Really, by Jove, is that so?" came the reply, and so perhaps kelp and Norton's advice determined the landing places. It's one of countless odd and amusing stories, dished out with plenty of fascinating marine biology, in a thoroughly readable and enchanting book.

Norton had been an unruly child, "but as I learned more about living things, I became too busy to be bad." And he used his fascination for the sea to power his academic efforts (he is now Professor of Marine Biology at the University of Liverpool). The many chapters here cover Norton's underwater life all over the world, and convey his fascination with the creatures he sees. Barnacle mating, for instance, is extraordinary: "The bold, bisexual barnacle has a prick up its sleeve; its enormous penis is three or four times taller than the shell. Out it leaps, thin and arching, and dips into an adjacent barnacle as neat as a nib into a surprised inkwell." The creatures are amazing, and so are the odd people who come into Norton's life, or historical figures who inspired him. Pages here are devoted to Ed Ricketts, the marine biologist of Cannery Row and John Steinbeck's pal. Norton describes Liverpool in the sixties, but explains, "People have often asked me what it was like to be there. If only I'd known it was going to become 'Liverpool in the sixties' I'd have paid more attention." It was where he met his wife (who has done the charming illustrations for this book): "She was obviously bright and I would like to say that I was first attracted by her intellect, but in the age of miniskirts there was so much to admire that I got distracted."

Norton realizes his own good luck in timing. "Yesterday's expedition is today's excursion and tomorrow's package tour." He has been able to see pristine reefs and to write about them, but then faces the dilemma that since complex reef ecology is damaged by human visits, to celebrate the beauty of a specific reef is to "expose it to the dangers of excessive admiration." The coral reef state park in Florida, for instance, gets thousands of visitors a day, as well as damage by pollution and careless boat usage. It isn't the only instance Norton describes of the encroachment of the modern world into the oceans. Overfishing has changed the oceans forever, with much bigger nets, spotter planes to locate schools of fish, and sonar mounted on the nets to guide the skipper in enclosing his prey. "Fish have as much chance of evading a net as a tree has of dodging the ax." Especially distressing is his description of ruin within the waters of the Philippines by such fishing techniques as dynamiting and poisoning by bleach and cyanide. This is far too lively and cheery a book, however, to be overcome by such reflections. Norton is a witty writer with a fund of good stories to tell and a delight in the surprises of the human and the marine world, a delight that any reader will enjoy.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A joyous celebration as well as a scientific investigation and a fine leisure read 17 Aug 2006
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As a young boy author Trevor Norton was fascinated by water: a fascination which would continue into adulthood, and which serves as the foundation of experience of UNDERWATER TO GET OUT OF THE RAIN, a blend of natural history and memoir. Norton's fascination would lead him to travel oceans of the world, to study the science and history of oceans, and to probe both the surface of the ocean and the world of a submerged laboratory. UNDERWATER TO GET OUT OF THE RAIN is a joyous celebration as well as a scientific investigation and a fine leisure read.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rara avis: an eloquent marine biologist 16 Aug 2006
By Pierre Haas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Amazon Verified Purchase
Trevor Norton is a very gifted man: he is undoubtedly a first-rate scientist, who enjoys his profession inmensely, but he has other virtues as well. First, he can write: every page is elegantly crafted, with a knack for the telling detail and a gift for the essential. In a few pages you are there with him, becoming acquainted with an underwater scene, or with a long-deceased biologist. Second, Norton is interested in everything, from science to history, reminding us how fascinating life itself can be, if only we care to look. And he has a sense of humor.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, Fascinating, Educational and Entertaining 9 Aug 2006
By John Matlock - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As the sub-title says, this is the story of a love affair with the sea. The author confesses to be an unruly child until he found the sea and then became too busy to be bad. His love has taken him to academic heights, to strange and exotic parts of the globe and to the depths of the ocean.

The book is part the natural history of the ocean, part the story of man's interferrence, part just stories, and part science. More perhaps than any of these, it's a vision into his own philosophy of life, the fascination that both he and the surface of the world is seven tenths salt water.

All in all, this is a delightful book. It is great to see that someone who starts out with a fascination about something is able to work in that area as a career and now many years later still holds that fascination. This fascination he then combines with the skills of a natural born story teller to produce a volume as entertaining as this.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful and Factual Look at Being a Marine Biologist 7 Jan 2014
By David B Richman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I picked up a copy of this book at a local used book store and was instantly captivated. Trevor Norton has captured the wonder, trials, and shear joy of field biology in "Underwater to Get Out of the Rain: A Love Affair With the sea." I could, if I had his talent for writing, have written the same sort of book on terrestrial biology, but I also love the sea and Norton has illustrated his love of his particular part of the natural world with charm and humor,as well as a refreshing candor. Things don't always go well in field biology, but to those who love it, it always fascinates.

Norton discusses his field work in the Canary Islands, Scotland, Egypt, California and other parts of the planet in such a way that even those who are not in love with biology will find interesting and refreshing. Those who read this book may come away with a new respect for the work done and the difficulties involved in such research, made more vital by our changing environment. I recommend this book highly and hope many will read it.
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