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Customer Review

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wrongly suspicious, 23 Oct. 2010
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This review is from: The Butterfly Isles: A Summer in Search of Our Emperors and Admirals (Hardcover)
I had seen this book and thought it would be of interest to me. Birdwatching is my main hobby although I have had sojourns into the world of lepidoptera from time to time (I am up to 44 species of butterfly, Purple Emperor was the last new one I saw, and I regularly trap moths, so a bit of a saddo I guess!) but I grew rather suspicious about this book when I saw three 5* reviews all from first time reviewers. Oh no Patrick Barkham has got his mates to review his book and give it the top rating......or has he?

So with a huge chunk of cynicism and a 'I know what's coming, a two star load of rubbish, or worse a 'Tim Dee Running Sky' encyclopaedia of tedious literary quotations and smugness about how intelligent I am' feeling I began to read the book.

I desperately wanted it to be rubbish so I could write a 'told you so' review, but I simply can't. I absolutely loved the book, so much so I have stayed in bed until 11.45 today to finish it.

Patrick Barkham's best quality is that despite clearly being a well educated person and a butterfly pervert he is not 'up himself'. When I read these types of books (not necessarily about Natural History) I think would I want to meet this person or, in this case, go out butterfly watching with him? In this case it would be a resounding 'yes'. Not pretentious at all, perhaps self deprecating in parts but wholly honest in his writing, he comes across as a decent humorous enthusiast who loves his hobby yet recognises the frailties that it unearths in him.

There are literary quotes but these were done with such skill that I didn't feel that it was a quotefest unlike Tim Dee's book. I think it is probably a cross between Alex Horne's 'Birdwatchingwatching' and Tim Dee's 'Running Sky' and works better than either of those books.

I expect the purists will hate this because as Patrick points out you mustn't anthropomorphosise a butterfly which he does, and good for him for doing that when he could easily have made this a stale dull book to please them.

There were a few typos and errors in the book ('relict' not 'relic' population surely? And 'Dad' and 'dad' annoyed me, pedant that I am) and normally I would deduct a star for that, but I am not because even I can see it would be churlish.

A great book and very pleased to have read it and found out that the other reviews were indeed spot on.
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