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Otter Country: In Search of the Wild Otter Hardcover – 6 Sep 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books; 1st Edition edition (6 Sept. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847084850
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847084859
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.9 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 354,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

‘You don't have to be an otter fanatic to love Darlington's book... Otter Country is proper nature writing, revealing as much about the writer's obsession with otters as of the animal itself and leaving us in awe of both -’ Sir John Lister-Kaye

‘Wonderful... her book is equal to its subject’ Carl Wilkinson

‘Beautifully evocative... Written in prose as sinuous as the creatures themselves... Otters apparently enjoy a rather illustrious club of fans. Readers of Ms Darlington will be glad she is among them’

‘Sharply observed and lyrically written’ Jason Goodwin

‘Beautifully written... A truly mesmerising and inspirational read’

‘The author is a teacher and poet who writes beautifully and informatively... I have no hesitation recommending this book’

‘Darlington is consistently an agreeable companion - inquisitive, but never a know-it-all, and frequently funny... I challenge anyone not to find [her] writing buoyant and inspirational’ David Profumo

‘A passionate journey, travelled beautifully’ Paul Evans

‘Otter Country captures the raw beauty of the landscape, distilling knowledge from some of the most renowned experts’

‘The writing is sublime ... a piece of sheer joy’

‘Miriam Darlington has written a personal tale of burning quest for one of the most charismatic of all our animals. It is a beautiful book full of sensuous lyricism, but it is also an important contribution to British writing on otters, a tradition in which this country is especially rich’ Mark Cocker, author

‘Otters are one of British conservation's success stories, and this wonderful book is their anthem. The strong clear writing, fascinating research and warm personal voice make it a lovesong not only to otters but to Britain’ Ruth Padel, author

‘Seeing an otter in the wild is one of the most precious and magical wildlife experiences that these islands have to offer, and Miriam Darlington captures that magic perfectly’ Neil Ansell, author of 'Deep Country: Five Years in the Welsh Hills'

‘Miriam Darlington belongs with writers like Mark Cocker and Paul Evans at the peak of the genre. If a better nature book is published this year, I would be very surprised’ Jim Perrin, author of 'West: A Journey through the Landscapes of Loss'

‘This is a diary of utter devotion where landscape is interpreted as otter-text, its messages elusive but traced with deep sensitivity’ Jay Griffiths, author

‘A book to restore that sense of nature red in tooth and claw and our place in amongst it... I turned the last page of Otter Country full of admiration’

‘I was immediately captivated. Darlington is a poet and her prose has a wonderful flow and lyricism... Her passion and forensic attention to her subject are infectious’ Julia Brigdale

‘This book will have you creeping along river banks and lying quietly by pools’

‘The known and loved landscapes of her past and present are evoked with as much care as she gives to her musteline quarry’ Esther Woolfson

‘Beautifully produced... a worthy successor to Tarka and Ring of Bright Water’ John Harding

‘It follows in the tradition of Gavin Maxwell and Henry Williamson, and stands comparison with both... Delightful’ Stephen Moss, Books of the Year

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

MIRIAM DARLINGTON was born and brought up in Lewes, Sussex. A prize-winning poet, she taught French and English for twelve years, before becoming a full-time writer in 2007. Her poetry collection Windfall was published in 2008. She writes a regular monthly column in The Times: Nature Notebook. She lives in Devon with two children, one dog, two cats, four chickens and her husband

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very well written - fascinating.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I guess I had not quite expected such a lovely read. Becoming fascinated by otters I bought the book on a whim, thinking this could be slight over kill as how much could one really write about Otters! It's just lovely and everything I wanted from a book factual, natural, poetic and so readable.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is hard to sum up all the qualities of this stunningly beautiful, well written, thoroughly researched and highly readable book, other than by saying it is simply one of the finest books I have read in a long time, and engrossed me from the start.
Miriam Darlington is an accomplished poet whose deft observations of animals and nature are always engaging, and in Otter Country, her first venture into the world of prose, she doesn't disappoint. Split roughly into regional sections, as the author visits various parts of the country in search of the elusive animal, the book provides a fascinating overview of natural Britain, from the "True North" of Scotland, to the "wide curve of sand and mountainous dunes" of Northumberland, with its "gnarled, windblown hawthorns," taking in the Lake District and the surprisingly wildlife-rich canals of east London, to the "glittering river Dart" and the idyllic sounding environs of the author's local area, England's south-west.
There is a lot of thoughtful, insightful poetry and nature writing emanating from this part of the country right now, with writers like David Caddy, Mandy Pannett and Alice Oswald bringing the ancient land-and-water-scapes to life, and Miriam Darlington's fluent style of writing, non-judgemental observations and obvious love of wild animals fits perfectly into this poetic melting pot.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Absolutely beautiful and evocative book. It follows a passion and drive for knowledge of a charming creature and embeds it in truly wonderful and poetic prose.
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Format: Paperback
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 the editor) also seemed 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 that anything much really seems to happen anyway.
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this speculatively after reading the rave Guardian review that said the author had immediately catapulted herself into the company of the nature writing greats with this book - and they got it just about spot on! This is a great read - part journey across the country in search of the author's beloved otter and part excavation of this animal's literary past, this is really readable and rewarding stuff.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
On the cover of Otter Country is a puff from Jim Perrin 'If a better nature book is written this year I would be very surprised.' As we approach December I think we can be safely say he was right. Otter Country is a delight; beautifully crafted, passionate and authentic, it chronicles Darlington's quest not just to observe but to understand the otter - and in so doing to discover more of herself. And it's this aspect - the willingness to place herself and her responses into the narrative - that I enjoyed so much. Too many supposed new-nature books use the landscape as a prop for the author's ego - reams of research material supported by a fleeting visit to the 'wild' (the much lauded Edgelands is a classic example). Otter Country is the real deal - Darlington's lifetime obsession is genuine, so too her initial naivety; her need for help, empathy and patience in understanding her subject - Otter Country is as much inner journey as outward quest. All this and exquisitely written too - I read it in a weekend, then again a month later - a rare event for me and further endorsement if it were needed.

Highly recommended.
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