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Tarka the Otter (Puffin Modern Classics) Paperback – 29 Jun 1995
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About the Author
Henry Williamson is regarded by many as Britain's finest nature writer. He was born in London in 1895 but his work is rooted in the north Devon countryside where he went to live after being deeply affected by his experiences in the First World War. He published some fifty books, a mix of country stories, most famously Tarka the Otter and Salar the Salmon, and autobiographical fiction, including the fifteen-volume novel cycle, A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight. He died in 1977.
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Top Customer Reviews
The descriptions of the Otter's eye view of the Devon countryside rings very true; the plants, the birds and other animals occur exactly where they should be and the author clearly has a feel for water.
The otters in the book, especially Tarka, seem both real and fantastical at the same time - brave, cunning, highly intelligent and remarkably resolute. Whether this is a true reflection of the biological otter is a matter for debate, but the whole the book feels more believable than mythical.
The story is told in a simple and straight forward manner, and for all that the otters become somewhat humanised the story is far from romantic. The death of the otters at the hands of otter hunters in brutal, and their casual disregard for other living things is clearly shown.
This is a sympathetic portrait of otters and an honest, but not flattering, one of humans.
`Animal stories' of this type do feel rather old fashioned, but the detail of the observation lifts this book above the ordinary.
The novel tells the trials faced by an otter in the Devonshire countryside.
Taka is born 1 of 3 cubs, practically as soon as he is born he begins to recognise the dangers that will dictate and eventually end his life.
The book explores nature and the harshness encountered through both the wild and also mans interference. Nothing is left out or to the imagination. Often harrowing, the story details Tarka's constant battle with the otter hounds, and in particular their fearsome leader Deadlock.
In many ways Williamson's bleak writing of the English countryside reminded me of Cormac Macarthy, in particular the Orchard Keeper.
The only reason I gave this book 4 stars, not 5, is that the local dialect used for various landscape features got a bit tiresome and repetitive.
All in all, a very good read, but also a sad one which causes the reader to reflect on mans wrongful treatment of nature more than any other book I have read.
Thankfully, Otters are no longer subjected to such regular persecution but Henry Williamson gives us a captivating historical insight into rural England. A must read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I first read Tarka the otter, as a young boy, and remember enjoying it a great deal.
Now in my fifties the book takes on a whole new light, The plight of Tarka and his kind is... Read more
This is a hard book to star. I do find it pedestrian, a slog at times though it certainly has its moments. One of those is Tarka playing with the moon (p 19). Read morePublished 16 months ago by Stig Bjarne Hansen