- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Granta Books; First Paperback Edition edition (1 Jun. 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1847080804
- ISBN-13: 978-1847080806
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 14,911 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Corvus: A Life with Birds Paperback – 1 Jun 2009
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'Like all the best accounts of a life shared with animals (Gerald Durrell comes inevitably to mind), Corvus offers much in the way of domestic comedy ... Exquisitely written - Gallopingly readable' - Guardian 'A number of qualities make this unlikely book such a triumph. The first is the author's character, as revealed in the tone of her narrative voice - Then there is the deceptive simplicity of Woolfson's best writing - Finally though, it is her ever-present sense of fresh wonder which carries us lightly to the very last page' - Irish Times'Funny, touching and beautifully written - a fascinating insight into the closeness human beings can achieve with wild creatures'- Sunday Times
About the Author
Esther Woolfson was brought up in Glasgow and studied Chinese at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Edinburgh University. Her acclaimed short stories have appeared in many anthologies and have been read on Radio 4. She has won prizes for her nature writing and received a Scottish Arts Council Travel Grant and a Writer's Bursary
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Top Customer Reviews
One of the reason of buying it, was our own beautiful experiences with birds of all kinds over the last years. The most beautiful one was with a pheasant, who visited us almost daily, and especially regularly during the winter months. He got grains, and when we were not fast enough, he came to give a little knock on the patio door to call us outside. He sat in the garden, on the roof at times, on the window sill or on the fence. Once we had forgotten the grain tin in the garden, he was able to open it, even the mechanism to close it seems, in my view, very difficult for him to open.
With or without own experiences of this kind, this book is a lovely read. Very recommended.
The tale was very interesting, some might say inspiring, but the way it was told was drear in the extreme. The author clearly had not made up her mind whether she was writing narrative or a scientific treatise: it failed on both counts.
I am very interested in birds and thought this book might tell me more about them. It did, but the writing was soul-destroying. Sentences of more than 100 words and minimal punctuation leave the reader lost and confused. The nineteenth century masters could do it – but then they remembered to use colons or semi-colons to indicate where things were going.
But one of the most appalling aspects of this book was the regurgitated thesaurus effect giving streams of synonyms or near synonyms (hence some of the 100 word sentences) which were totally unnecessary and detracted from the tale. Clearly it was hoped a scattergun approach would provide the right word, even if the author was not sure what that word should be.
Finally, at the end of my Kindle download, I was informed she had written another book. I must question if there were any words left in her thesaurus?
Woolfson is not a naturalist by profession. Her story is that of a human family living with members of a different species in an unusually integrated way. The birds live in her house in Aberdeen and are in effect domestic partners and companions, as cats or dogs would be in another household. Around the events of their lives Woolfson weaves an unhurried meditation on our relationship with birds that never forgets that they are not human, but allows for observation of their capacity for interacting with humans that a more scientific perspective might dismiss. The mixture of anecdote and information keeps the narrative moving, and the author has an engaging style that sometimes seems to verge on something more serious but never becomes portentous.
I read the book because I am interested in corvids. It is not - and does not try to be - a scientific reference; it offers instead the perspective of a bird lover who has lived with corvids for extended periods of time, and captures very well the enduring fascination of these birds.
The twenty or so black-and-white illustrations add relatively little to the book. There is a useful bibliography.
The parts about Woolfsons pet birds are a funny and touching potrait of a family and their pets, a little remeniscent of "my family and other animals".
The parts about natural history are more serious and require concentration but well worth it particularly the parts discussing birds relationship to dinosaurs.
I really loved this and hope that Esther Woolfson writes more of the same.
But what really made it for me were the relationships between Esther and the helpless infant corvids that, having fallen from their family nests, she took in and raised in her home in Aberdeen. Nurturing and living with Chicken and Spike gave Esther an unprecedented opportunity to study corvid behaviour. Her love and care of these birds is evident, as is her awareness and respect for them as wild and highly independent-minded creatures. The description of the greeting ritual between the author and Chicken each morning is very touching - how many people do you know who've had the priviledge of bowing and greeting a adult female rook at the bottom of their stairs each morning?!!
I hope others enjoy Corvus as much as I did.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I just adore Esther Woolfson and this is hands down my favourite ever book. Her combination of historical research, biological facts, advice on caring for and watching birds is... Read morePublished 4 months ago by marthacadle
Someone lent me this book a couple of years ago. I so enjoyed it, that I bought a copy for my bird loving friend.Published 7 months ago by moonraker girl
To be honest I think this is between a 3.5 and a 4 for me. I bought the book having heard the author speak some time ago on Radio 4 about intelligence in non-human species. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Mr D.
I saw a reference to this book in a newspaper article, and thought I would buy it. I wasn't sure whether it was going to be weighted down with scientific facts and figures. Read morePublished 10 months ago by ruffled feathers
Very interesting and touching account of living with birds.Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
If you love birds, you will love this wonderfully written book about crows. Woolfson's writing flows beautifully and the illustrations are wonderful.Published 11 months ago by JTH
If you are interested in birds then this should tickle your fancy.Published 15 months ago by Frankie
Excellent delivery. This was a Book Club choice and not mine.Published 15 months ago by christine a. holland