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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling, 5 Dec 2012
By 
Mad about wildlife (South West England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Beauty in the Beast: Britain's Favourite Creatures and the People Who Love Them (Hardcover)
This is an enthralling read. In each chapter Warwick explores a different British species and introduces us to a particular enthusiast who has dedicated their life's work to preserving it. What makes 'The Beauty in the Beast' so compelling is the charming, sometimes laugh-out-loud narration. Here the author is describing a bat's face: "There is a very small space between cute and ridiculous, and somehow this bat managed to occupy it with confidence."

As well as being highly entertained we learn a huge amount of fascinating facts on each animal. Warwick explains that the gorgeous fur of long-eared bats is velvet to the touch, and that they purr when stroked. We learn that because of their bright, gem-like eyes, people believed that toads had a jewel embedded in their brain. We learn that otter poo, as well as being full of fish bones, smells like perfume.

I couldn't put the book down. Warwick's delightful enthusiasm not only for the animal experts but also their beloved species is infectious: "I suffer with a surfeit of empathy for both nature and humanity," he admits towards the end of the book. "What I have learned.." he concludes, "is that by applying ourselves to just one aspect of the beautiful and alarmingly fragile diversity of the natural world, we can learn to love not just a single species, but the entire web of life that sustains it and us."

As with all of the best comedy, there are some deeply touching and resonantly serious moments. Warwick also has a warning: "Seeing more deeply and falling in love both come with risks. The pain we experience as a result can be as immense as the pleasure. 'The stabbing pain of love's awakening' to quote Mahler's 'Song of the Earth' , is joined with the fear of loss."

Having read this book I wanted to shout with joy. It's a map showing us the way to come home to the things we love, and in this time of ecological crisis a call to action. We all need a species to love, be it ant, adder, beaver or bat: "Let us all take the risk of becoming attached to something out there," Warwick ends: "See deeply, open up your senses, become aware of the interconnectedness of life, and risk falling in love."

From the start Warwick set himself the task of finding a favourite from amongst his list of encounters. I won't give away which species Warwick chooses for his new tattoo at the end, but when the decision finally comes it is unexpected and moving.

I recommend this to anyone who loves animals. Buy it for all your friends, it will make a superb, heart-lifting gift.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars nothing so quirky and independent as a British animal lover..., 21 May 2012
This review is from: The Beauty in the Beast: Britain's Favourite Creatures and the People Who Love Them (Hardcover)
Entertaining, informative and thought-provoking in equal measure, this is a nice piece of work about the fauna of the British isles. Gives a good balance between things you never knew about particular animals, and a nuanced wake-up call about the predicament of many eco-systems which support and are supported by said beasts.
Having said that in many ways it's a book about people - there's lots of quirky humour about the characters who get obsessed with specific animals, often obscure ones (and the author isn't afraid to poke fun at his own hedgehog-fixation / midlife crisis survival strategies.) Good use of a tenner, in my view.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars nature on your doorstep, 3 Aug 2012
This review is from: The Beauty in the Beast: Britain's Favourite Creatures and the People Who Love Them (Hardcover)
Brings Britain's wildlife to life with intelligence, wit, and style. A great read - you'll be looking at nature in new ways.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous book about eccentric animal lovers, 11 May 2012
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This review is from: The Beauty in the Beast: Britain's Favourite Creatures and the People Who Love Them (Hardcover)
"The Beauty in the Beast" by Hugh Warwick (who I admit that I know) is a gorgeous book. I've already given away two copies as birthday presents hoping to inspire my friends to get their own tattoo as part of their mid-life to do list. I'm sure other readers will find themselves thinking about adding a tattoo too. Because I gave my copies away I cannot quote my favourite parts, but I was hooked by the resourceful bee man, the devoted badger bloke, the enthusiastic bat lady and the utter strangeness of the toad priest. These eccentric people are part of the UK's rich wildlife history (as of course Hugh himself is through his prickly affair with hedgehogs) and deserve to have their stories shared.

It's Hugh's curiosity about the animals (yes and the reptiles/insects etc), and their human champions that makes this book captivating reading. There will be some people you KNOW should read this book. But it is also a fabulous gift for the tricky people in your life who you want to give something marvellous, but somehow always end up with socks or soap. Not any more - they can have "The Beauty in the Beast".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A high-spirited, multifaceted book., 2 Oct 2012
This review is from: The Beauty in the Beast: Britain's Favourite Creatures and the People Who Love Them (Hardcover)
I grew up in the deep countryside, surrounded by pure, untouched nature, insects and animals of all kinds. Whilst they were part of my everyday life, I would not describe myself as an animal lover per se. Yet I bought this book, an unlikely choice for me, after seeing Hugh Warwick speak at the Bristol Festival of Nature this summer. There is something profoundly engaging about the man, and his infectious passion and exuberance are more than conveyed in the book. There are enough personal details - relating to the author, the ambassadors and the animals themselves - for the reader to feel included from the start, involved, invited along for the ride. It is a joy to read, informative without being patronising, and really quite poetic at times. It's full of interesting wildlife anecdotes and humour.
Looking through the table of contents, I have to admit that I was biased as to which animals I'd enjoy reading about, and which would leave me indifferent. However, as Warwick and his ambassadors shattered my preconceptions one by one, I discovered affinities that I never would have imagined.
But behind the congenial tone and (mostly-) cute animal profiles lies a powerful environmental message, which is that if we open up to these creatures, if we let them seduce us then nature will become less anonymous and we will feel compelled to fight for it's preservation - for the sake of the creatures, and our own.
If you're looking for a high-spirited, multifaceted book which will engage, entertain and inform you, then this is the one!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Humorous, wise and inspiring, 24 Aug 2012
This review is from: The Beauty in the Beast: Britain's Favourite Creatures and the People Who Love Them (Hardcover)
Following on from 'A Prickly Affair', 'The Beauty in the Beast' is a great example of nature writing. Warwick's style is very accessible, at times making you laugh out loud at the things people do to get close to wildlife, and at other times sending a shiver down your spine at the thought of losing any of the native species encountered in the book. With a solid ecological background, Warwick's stories of meeting eccentric people and seeing (or nearly seeing) animals great and small highlight the importance of engaging people in conservation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely on so many levels, 1 Jun 2012
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This review is from: The Beauty in the Beast: Britain's Favourite Creatures and the People Who Love Them (Hardcover)
So many ways to enjoy this book. Dip in. Read cover to cover. Choose your favourite animal first. Go back for reminders and repeat pleasure. Read it in your garden, your favourite natural hidey hole or on the sofa. Learn about amazing wildness and amazing people, about environment, history and culture, about Latin and love. It's a story, an adventure, a lesson in nature and ecology. Read it as an escapade into self awareness - what would you choose as /your/ totem? Read it as a mystery - who has been chosen to adorn Hugh's other ankle? (Assuming you haven't already heard the talk, skipped to the end (cheat!), read the blog [...], or seen the tattoo that is. But even if you know, why was that chosen and do you agree?) Or forget what I think, just read it and see for yourself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read, 2 Oct 2013
This review is from: The Beauty in the Beast: Britain's Favourite Creatures and the People Who Love Them (Hardcover)
My book group read this book this summer - it led to an amazing discussion - we all had different favourite chapters and found ourselves talking about the amazing characters as well as realising that we had learnt loads about Britain's wildlife, which has come in handy when chatting to my kids on country walks etc. I would really recommend this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a great idea, 23 Jun 2013
Hugh Warwick is passionate about hedgehogs and has one tattooed on his ankle. He decided to have a second and final tattoo of another creature. He embarked on a year of travels around the country meeting wildlife obsessives to see who could persuade him that their creature should be the one.
A brilliant idea, he met some amazing people. I can see why he chose the creature that he did but it wouldn't have been my choice.
I loved reading about these people and about Hugh's expeditions to see these creatures. Fascinating!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for wildlife lovers, 8 Mar 2013
By 
D. J. Wilcox (Nottinghamshire) - See all my reviews
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I haven't read all the book yet, as I like to read a chapter at a time because they are all self-contained ie: each one about a different animal.
What I have read has been very interesting and puts over well each person's love of their particular animal, and why they are so passionate about it. It's a hard book to put down really, but I make myself leave it for a while and this increases my appetite!
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