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4.6 out of 5 stars33
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 20 May 2014
This is not the sort of book I would normally read, not being especially interested in owls, but as it was recommended by a friend I chanced it. I am now interested in owls. And in this owl in particular, for the book is readable, funny, good-humoured, full of intriguing tit-bits, rather moving in places, and quite revealing of its author too - for instance, how many of us would have the cheek to defy a strict pets ban in a block of flats by building an aviary on a seventh-floor balcony and camouflaging it with a fast-growing Russia vine? After reading the first paragraph, the second and all subsequent ones become irresistible.
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VINE VOICEon 17 March 2014
First and foremost this is a deeply moving, but never sentimental story of one man and the owl he reared from a chick. It is written with a restrained, wry 'Englishness' that conveys the powerful bond between man and owl as they move live first in a London high-rise flat and then in the Sussex countryside. As the story unfolds you get a real sense of a time and place, primarily Seventies Britain, that no longer exists.
Writing from detailed diary entries (some of which are quoted) the author goes into detail about Mumble's behaviour. His careful observations are delivered with clarity and humour, and demonstrate formidable knowledge as well as his background in history publishing (with comparisons to military aircraft proving particularly insightful). He breaks the story and the careful observations with succinct and useful chapters on various aspects of owls, in our culture, in their natural habitat etc.
In summary highly recommended as a heartfelt but restrained celebration of the life of Mumble the owl, an education about these fascinating creatures and a compelling evocation of a time before iphones and the internet.
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on 20 September 2014
This book about a man and an owl is as likeable as its subject - and its author.
Quite why Martin Windrow (who is better known for his more prosaic books on military history) chose to publish the details of a relationship almost embarrassing in its intimacy I don’t know, but I’m glad he did. In an informal style, informative, amusing and moving, it describes the lives of an oddly-matched couple, obviously devoted to each other. Perhaps unintentionally, the author reveals almost more about himself than about his winged partner. This relationship was evidently a most important part of his life: it apparently took him more than twenty years to be able to write about it, and the surprisingly laconic account of Mumble’s demise betrays emotions that Windrow, with his English public school upbringing, probably thought best to play down.
All in all, a delightful and easy read, and thoroughly recommendable.
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on 19 March 2014
As a bloke I don't really like those fluffy 'country mother and her cutesy dog' kind of books and what's so great about this one is that it's such a contrast. It's written by a man who comes over as curmudgeonly at times and there's a total absence of sentimentality. Instead we learn how owls evolved - I had no idea they'd been around since the dinosaurs - and how they fly, eat, hunt and even how they take a bath.
But around all that there comes across a real bond between man and owl, one that changes the author's life, and for the better. He's a very good writer and keen observer of his owl, and through his eyes we enjoy a surprising relationship, one that clearly was a one-on-one, with no room for anyone else. When guests have to sit on the sofa wearing helmets to stay safe you know you're in the presence of an intense relationship.
This is a surprisingly moving story, told with a sparse English emotion that actually highlights what it seeks to downplay. An animal book that will hit the mark for both men and women. Just don't cry at the end.
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on 24 July 2014
My wife absolutely loved reading the story and found the book to have been extremely well written. She found herself charmed by Mumble; its character and distinct personality. Her only reservation was that such a free spirit had be caged, although she understood the necessity for it. I am looking forward to reading it myself and I quite expect to be charmed.
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on 8 July 2014
A sweet book written with pure sincerity and emotion from Martin Windrow.
Unashamedly, it will give you a lump in your throat.
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on 23 January 2015
I've always liked owls- by which I mainly just mean I've always thought that they are "cute", but I've never known that much about them, so this book was a fascinating read; beautifully written, informative, while also really touching and funny at times. I personally found the level of detail in some of the chapters describing Mumble's physical appearance and seasonal patterns of behaviour a little overwhelming, but overall it was a delightful book, with some lovely turns of phrase "one can take umbrage so much more convincingly when one has a lot of feathers" being one of my particular favourites! The illustrations and photographs are beautiful, and it was just a wonderfully quirky, intriguing read.
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on 26 September 2014
A charming story. Enjoyed every word. A little sad at the end, but expected that. Mumble was gorgeous - wish there were more books like this. Highly recommended - loved it.
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on 5 August 2015
A decent, and sometimes cute, story about "man and owl," bringing to light a good-deal of information about owls and their unique behavior. If one were "into" owls, one might give it an "8," or "9," but for the "average Joe" I think it'd rate closer to a "7." But, hey, maybe it's just what YOU are looking for!
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on 1 April 2014
I bought this book as a present for an old friend who knew the author. Quickly reading it before handing it over (as you do!), I was struck by the tenderness with which it was written, and the knowledge gained by the author during his life with this unusual familiar.
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