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Somewhat dull and tedious, with irritatingly overwritten, overly poetic prose
on 9 November 2015
Perhaps it was a mistake to read this so soon after Bill Bryson, and whilst I have quite a passion for wildlife and wild places, I'm afraid I just found this book rather dull and uninteresting, with little to engage me and draw me in - let alone be the kind of thing I'd want to read again and again.
Furthermore, and although in many ways this book is well written, I very much felt that it demonstrated the kind of overwritten, overly-poetic prose which, for some reason, appears to be almost ubiquitous in nature writing, and which I find more than a little irritating - not to mention somewhat self-indulgent, even pretentious. For me, the skill of a good writer is to avoid the twin pitfalls of prose which, on the one hand, is underdeveloped and therefore too matter-of-fact, and, on the other, that which makes it look as if the author is simply trying too hard - with this book very much falling into the latter category. The author (or maybe it is the editor) also seems to have something of a fixation with semicolons, to the extent that, after a while, and already anticipating the next round of cringeworthy prose, my mind was almost drifting into a game of 'spot the semicolon'.
On the whole, I also found this book to be quite tedious. Sometimes, and without wishing to be unkind, it almost felt as if the author was intent on offering a deeply poetic meditation on, or carefully crafted observation of, pretty much everything she encountered (even the Severn Bridge!), while also feeling the need to talk us through every twist and turn of even the more mundane aspects of her various trips, travels and activities - not than anything much really seems to happen anyway. I also felt that the author was overly reliant upon reference to other literary works, which merely added to the feeling that, perhaps unsurprisingly, the book was striving for something decidedly 'highbrow'.
All of this is quite a shame, as the author comes across as a likeable person who not only has an admirable passion for otters, but who cares about them deeply, and whose various trips and outings in search of these slippery characters (pun intended) could have made for quite a tale.
In summary, this book will undoubtedly appeal to some more than others, but I'm afraid it just left me bored and unimpressed.