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Tarka The Otter (Puffin Modern Classics)

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The classic story of an otter living in the Devonshire countryside which captures the feel of life in the wild as seen through the otter's own eyes. The classic story of an otter living in the Devonshire countryside which captures the feel of life in the wild as seen through the otter's own eyes.


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The classic story of an otter living in the Devonshire countryside which captures the feel of life in the wild as seen through the otter's own eyes. The classic story of an otter living in the Devonshire countryside which captures the feel of life in the wild as seen through the otter's own eyes.

30 review for Tarka The Otter (Puffin Modern Classics)

  1. 5 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    This is the life story of an otter called Tarka that means "Water Wanderer." What I like about this book is that I was able to learn so many things about an animal that I have not seen in the real world. I do not even remember seeing one in a number of zoos, both local and overseas, that I have so far been to. The writing is simple but there are so many otter-related terms that I had to google or guess while reading. First I thought I would understand the story without looking up for those words This is the life story of an otter called Tarka that means "Water Wanderer." What I like about this book is that I was able to learn so many things about an animal that I have not seen in the real world. I do not even remember seeing one in a number of zoos, both local and overseas, that I have so far been to. The writing is simple but there are so many otter-related terms that I had to google or guess while reading. First I thought I would understand the story without looking up for those words but I was continuously lost page after page until I checked and learned that "dog" is how a male otter is called, "bitch" is for female otters and "whelp" or "pup" for baby otter. [You have to understand that there are no otters here in the Philippines.] In those few pages when there where the word "dog" I thought that the otters had a dog in their midst. So, I wondered for a bit, why is the dog not harassing the otter when otters have some resemblance to mice being part of the same family? Lesson: consult the dictionary, K.D. or better yet get a Kindle so you just hover on the word and you'll automatically see its meaning. Maybe, in the next Christmas bonus. The narration is in the POV of Tarka so it is based on the eye-level and viewpoint of the animal and not those of human being. So, the swamp is a big body of water, the shrub is described as a tree, on ordinary (not rampaging) river is a challenge to cross, etc. It is obvious that Williamson spent a lot of time researching about otters just to make sure that their natural behavior was captured accurately in the story. At first, I also thought that this was a children's book until I noticed that there is no fantasy element in the story: the animals (otters, seal, rats, fox, owl, etc) have no dialogues. For example, otters yikker and Williamson used the actual sounds of their shrieks or cries in the story like: hompa, hompa, hompa, ik-yang, wuff, wuff, etc that appear in italics in the narrative. Since there are no dialogues, I understand that some readers might find this boring. However, if you read slowly, you would notice some paragraphs or phrases are poetic. According to Wiki, Williamson was first and foremost known as a poet that a novelist. The story is divided into two parts: the first year and the last year. In the first year, the setting is in the river called River Taw and Tarka's lover is called Greymuzzle. In the second part, the last year, the setting is the other river called River Torridge and Tarka has a new mate White-Tip. The first part is quite boring but the action picks up in the second because of the chase and Tarka's final confrontation of the villain Deadlock. There is even a map that shows the actual place in Devon or Devonshire, a county in England. Overall, it is a nice reading experience. Learning so many things in just one small cute book. This is not a children's book but the story can be appreciated by readers in all age groups. I particularly recommend this book, however, to all animal lovers especially to those who are fond of exotic or already endangered animals.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    Q: Why do they call it tarka dhal? A: (view spoiler)[Because it's like regular dhal, but a little otter. (hide spoiler)] ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]> Q: Why do they call it tarka dhal? A: (view spoiler)[Because it's like regular dhal, but a little otter. (hide spoiler)]

  3. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    This is the most uncompromisingly "animal" of all animal stories, more like a TV nature documentary than a novel. On the one hand, the writing itself is as beautiful as the place it describes: north Devon with its deep wooded valleys and rich farmland, its high moors where wild ponies graze under huge skies, its headland-fringed coast with the tallest sea-cliffs anywhere in England, are lovingly described by a Londoner who came to know every inch of it. But on the other hand, there's no moral, n This is the most uncompromisingly "animal" of all animal stories, more like a TV nature documentary than a novel. On the one hand, the writing itself is as beautiful as the place it describes: north Devon with its deep wooded valleys and rich farmland, its high moors where wild ponies graze under huge skies, its headland-fringed coast with the tallest sea-cliffs anywhere in England, are lovingly described by a Londoner who came to know every inch of it. But on the other hand, there's no moral, no "lesson", just life in the raw the way it really is for a wild animal: cubs, parents and mates disappear from the narrative and are simply never mentioned again. It's not a book about hunting. None of its otters die of disease or old age, most are killed and most of those by people - by the otter-hunt, or in gin-traps, or cornered and battered to death as "vermin"; yet Williamson's own attitude was to some extent contradictory. He admired the huntsmen themselves for their knowledge of otters and of Nature in general - he got to know them and followed the hunt himself; but in Tarka he also managed to get down on paper, better than almost anyone else I've read, the numbed outrage I feel at senseless cruelty to animals. Environmental campaigners such as Rachel Carson have taken inspiration from this book - and, for all I know, Tarka may even have helped to save the otter itself because much has happened since 1927 when it was written. Their numbers declined for decades until otters finally disappeared completely from most of England in the 1960s (due as much to pesticides running into rivers as to hunting) and they even made it into the Red Book as "vulnerable to extinction". But then in 1978 hunting was banned, and in 1981 the landmark Wildlife and Countryside Act was passed into law, with otters as one of the first animals to come under its protection. These days they're making a comeback and the future looks bright. Tarka isn't really about all that either though, neither about hunting nor conservation; in fact just for once, refreshingly, here we have a novel which isn't about us at all - and I think maybe that at least partly explains its enduring appeal. It's a story in which humans are peripheral figures, absent altogether for much of the time and only periodically erupting into Tarka's life like just another incomprehensible destructive phenomenon, like storms, like bad luck, like winter. And in the interludes we get glimpses of a different Earth (my favourite passage in the book: Tarka and a raven playing together), the way it must have been throughout almost all its history: no "moral", no "point" to it all, just life.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    An un-sentimental book about an otter - and about hunting otters. In this remarkable book, we follow Tarka the Otter through his entire life. We are there from his first to his last breath, through the joys and trials of his life, struggling through the harshest of winters, his life alone and with other otters, as a cub and as a grown otter with cubs of his own. This is a hard book to rate. It follows the life of an animal but without trying to explain the animal with human feelings while still re An un-sentimental book about an otter - and about hunting otters. In this remarkable book, we follow Tarka the Otter through his entire life. We are there from his first to his last breath, through the joys and trials of his life, struggling through the harshest of winters, his life alone and with other otters, as a cub and as a grown otter with cubs of his own. This is a hard book to rate. It follows the life of an animal but without trying to explain the animal with human feelings while still recognising that animals can feel happy about seeing each other, can protect their cubs and grieve when they loose one and how they play with each other - but it also shows how a female otter just leaves her cubs without another thought when they're old enough and an interesting male passes by. Even though our sympathy clearly lies with Tarka, he never feels truly known - he plays with his cub, but we get no descriptions of father feelings. He is truly a wild animal. There is no anthropomorphism in this book - and it stands the stronger because of this. The book vividly describes how men and dogs hunt otters for hours on end, how men use traps to catch otters (and other animals) and how animals can bite off limbs to escape from traps. It's not a nice book to read - as exemplified with this sentence about a female otter caught in a trap in the water: "Iron in the water sinks, and however long cubs call her, a bitch otter cannot swim with three legs for ever."(191) It shows how man is cruel and nature is harsh and although it was unpleasant to read about otters dying in many different ways, it was still a very good book. Only thing dragging it down is a bit too much description of the nature and especially birds and their feeding habits, otherwise I would have given it 4 stars - even though I have no intentions of ever reading it again. It should be required reading for hunters!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Hákon Gunnarsson

    I listened to a audio version of this book, and even though I'm not sure, I suspect it may have been an abridged version. One thing is certain, it was narrated by someone I have nothing but respect for, David Attenborough. He was the presenter of almost all the greatest nature programs that I watched on TV as a kid. The fact that he is still at it, and doing good work is pretty amazing. The reason I bring up Attenborough's nature shows is simple, listening to this book was a bit like watching one I listened to a audio version of this book, and even though I'm not sure, I suspect it may have been an abridged version. One thing is certain, it was narrated by someone I have nothing but respect for, David Attenborough. He was the presenter of almost all the greatest nature programs that I watched on TV as a kid. The fact that he is still at it, and doing good work is pretty amazing. The reason I bring up Attenborough's nature shows is simple, listening to this book was a bit like watching one of them without any pictures. Williamson's story is fiction that sounds, and feels like non fiction. He doesn't go with the human in animal form that is so often the case in stories like this, but a animal in animal form, and to me it is all the better for it. It is fascinating to listen to. There is a lot of drama in Tarka's life, but the story is down to earth. Now I think I have to try to find a print copy of this book, because I suspect this version may have been abridged, and I would like to read it as it was originally published.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ellinor

    Tarka the Otter is written in a very realistic way which doesn't humanize the animals. The language is beautiful and - not being a native speaker - I also learned lots of new words. Once I realized that by dogs, bitches and cubs the otters were meant and not actual dogs I also understood what was going on! Thsi book is often called a children's book but I surely wouldn't have liked it as a child. In spite of all the positive things mentioned above it was still all in all quite boring. Tarka the Otter is written in a very realistic way which doesn't humanize the animals. The language is beautiful and - not being a native speaker - I also learned lots of new words. Once I realized that by dogs, bitches and cubs the otters were meant and not actual dogs I also understood what was going on! Thsi book is often called a children's book but I surely wouldn't have liked it as a child. In spite of all the positive things mentioned above it was still all in all quite boring.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rosemary

    A memorable story of a Devonshire otter and the otter hunting that went on until otters almost died out in Britain in the 1970s. Unlike some animal story authors, Williamson was as realistic as possible and doesn't have the otters talking to each other in words, so there's virtually no dialogue (just a few hunters shouting to each other). This makes it a slow and sometimes eye-glazing read. But there are some lovely descriptions of the Devon countryside and waters, and I think this is one I'll k A memorable story of a Devonshire otter and the otter hunting that went on until otters almost died out in Britain in the 1970s. Unlike some animal story authors, Williamson was as realistic as possible and doesn't have the otters talking to each other in words, so there's virtually no dialogue (just a few hunters shouting to each other). This makes it a slow and sometimes eye-glazing read. But there are some lovely descriptions of the Devon countryside and waters, and I think this is one I'll keep, because I might like to read it again sometime.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Judith Johnson

    I acknowledge that this book is a classic of its kind, and that HW must have put in huge efforts, and was passionate about writing 'the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth' - his deliberate aim and ambition, as it says in the foreword 'How the Book came to be Written' by Eleanor Graham. I am glad that it was a success for him, and cannot deny the beauty and attested accuracy of some of his descriptions. For a naturalist, it must be a joy, and certainly at times I was deeply impresse I acknowledge that this book is a classic of its kind, and that HW must have put in huge efforts, and was passionate about writing 'the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth' - his deliberate aim and ambition, as it says in the foreword 'How the Book came to be Written' by Eleanor Graham. I am glad that it was a success for him, and cannot deny the beauty and attested accuracy of some of his descriptions. For a naturalist, it must be a joy, and certainly at times I was deeply impressed, and loved the illustrations by CF Tunnicliffe, who also illustrated the Ladybird classics What to Look for in Spring/Summer/Autumn and Winter, which I treasure. However, I recall that I tried to read it once when I was a child, and found it boring, and as an adult I have to confess I found it a long slog, and continued to read more from a sense of duty in honouring the author's hard work than from enjoyment.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Laurence

    This book follows the life of an otter called Tarka. As he grows up from a young cub, we are drawn into his fascinating adventures in the rivers of North Devon. Every detail of his life is described in wonderful detail - from hunting for food to searching for his long-lost mate, from bathing on riverside boulders to escaping from the jaws of angry hounds. Such is our attachment to him by the end of the book that the sad ending is a bitter pill to swallow. Tarka the Otter has an extremely descrip This book follows the life of an otter called Tarka. As he grows up from a young cub, we are drawn into his fascinating adventures in the rivers of North Devon. Every detail of his life is described in wonderful detail - from hunting for food to searching for his long-lost mate, from bathing on riverside boulders to escaping from the jaws of angry hounds. Such is our attachment to him by the end of the book that the sad ending is a bitter pill to swallow. Tarka the Otter has an extremely descriptive narrative and Henry Williamson pays great attention to the detail of the natural world.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Deanne

    Finished on the day that it was announced that otters had been spotted in Kent. This was the last county that these creatures had yet to return to since they were nearly wiped out in the 1970's. Great news as it means the rivers are heathier and it's an indication of what can be done. Finished on the day that it was announced that otters had been spotted in Kent. This was the last county that these creatures had yet to return to since they were nearly wiped out in the 1970's. Great news as it means the rivers are heathier and it's an indication of what can be done.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kobe Bryant

    It does immerse you in the world of the otter

  12. 5 out of 5

    George

    A well described nature study narration on the life of an otter in north Devon, England, in the 1920s.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    3.5 This book took me back to a particular moment when I was little, in front of the TV, watching a documentary about orcas. After that one I decided that I didn’t like documentaries. There you are watching the beauty of an orca for half an hour, soft slow music in the background, beautiful footage of the killer whale floating effortlessly in the vivid blue, beauty and grace; getting all emotional when she gives birth and melting over her offspring… and then just like that the overall mood of the 3.5 This book took me back to a particular moment when I was little, in front of the TV, watching a documentary about orcas. After that one I decided that I didn’t like documentaries. There you are watching the beauty of an orca for half an hour, soft slow music in the background, beautiful footage of the killer whale floating effortlessly in the vivid blue, beauty and grace; getting all emotional when she gives birth and melting over her offspring… and then just like that the overall mood of the documentary changes and suddenly the orca turns into a ruthless killer, devouring a sweet little innocent seal who was doing nothing but minding his own business. Pleading eyes. Blood everywhere. No, I didn’t like documentaries at all. This went on throughout my childhood years; if someone at home was watching a documentary, I left the room. Time went by and so did that innocence. Slowly I started seeing sense in the fatidic circle of life. Tarka the Otter is about the sense in all that but also about that which doesn’t make sense. For most of the book we get to see what life is about for an otter. In this case, the life of Tarka (meaning Little Water Wanderer or Wandering as Water). His life as an offspring, depending on his mother, and soon enough his adventures and challenges as an adult. You understand why his mother eventually leaves him and why he has to tear a rabbit or a bird into pieces. You understand why sometimes Tarka is the one who is hunted down. You understand all that. But then man comes along, and all of a sudden Tarka’s life is threatened by the senseless and for the life of me, I will never understand that… Williamson left me speechless, I couldn’t believe all the attention to detail. A great observer for sure, his writing – a means of transportation. The rawness reminded me of McCormac’s The Road. If not a feast for the senses, it is one of awareness for sure. He managed to write a whole book about the life of an otter, day after day, without making it sound like a monotonous recurrent episode. My senses became sharper. I swam and played and hunted with Tarka and I became to love him.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Conrad

    I first read this book sometime in my early teen years and although I didn't remember the details I never forgot the story. Originally written in the late 1920's, it tells the story of the life of a brave and intelligent little otter named Tarka. In re-reading it I was surprised by how unsentimental it was - it dealt with the life of the otter in a factual but not un-emotional way. The reader cannot help but feel empathy for Tarka as he is constantly harried by man and dog, but also joy as he fi I first read this book sometime in my early teen years and although I didn't remember the details I never forgot the story. Originally written in the late 1920's, it tells the story of the life of a brave and intelligent little otter named Tarka. In re-reading it I was surprised by how unsentimental it was - it dealt with the life of the otter in a factual but not un-emotional way. The reader cannot help but feel empathy for Tarka as he is constantly harried by man and dog, but also joy as he finds delight in his world and plays. The author's grasp of the natural environment and the cycle of life in that portion of Devon is quite remarkable and so well communicated. Likewise, his collection and recording of the old dialects (now lost to antiquity) is a window into a by-gone time. This book, now more than 80 years old, has stood the test of time well and deserves to be read. For me, its impact on my imagination almost 50 years ago, which caused me to find and re-read it, is a testament to its lasting value to the world of literature.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Osred

    This is one of my favourite novels. When I was a school student it was a set text, presumably because it's about an animal and children are supposed to like animal stories. In fact, none of us kids could understand it properly. "Tarka" is definitely a novel for adults - and especially for those few adults who thrill to read the English language when it is employed by a literary genius. I have re-read "Tarka" several times since leaving school, and each time discovered more aspects of it which sup This is one of my favourite novels. When I was a school student it was a set text, presumably because it's about an animal and children are supposed to like animal stories. In fact, none of us kids could understand it properly. "Tarka" is definitely a novel for adults - and especially for those few adults who thrill to read the English language when it is employed by a literary genius. I have re-read "Tarka" several times since leaving school, and each time discovered more aspects of it which support my view that Henry Williamson was a brilliant writer. In January 2016 my wife and I did a tour of the countryside in which this marvellous novel is set, visiting (among other places) Henry Williamson's writing hut at Ox's Cross. If any other Henry fans reading this wish to do likewise, I suggest you try to obtain a little book by Trevor Beer called "Tarka Country Explored" (2004, North Devon Books, Bideford, ISBN 095 28645-1-7).

  16. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    This is not The Wind in the Willows (another of my favorite books for different reasons) or Watership Down (another). Naturalistic. It's not animals as people like WIW. Bloodier and less romantic than WD. Almost reads like poetic non-fiction. The book is so loved in the County of Devon that there is (or was until recently) a train called the Tarka Express that ran through the country of the two rivers. There are many editions; one recent one has many photographs of the sites mentioned. This is not The Wind in the Willows (another of my favorite books for different reasons) or Watership Down (another). Naturalistic. It's not animals as people like WIW. Bloodier and less romantic than WD. Almost reads like poetic non-fiction. The book is so loved in the County of Devon that there is (or was until recently) a train called the Tarka Express that ran through the country of the two rivers. There are many editions; one recent one has many photographs of the sites mentioned.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    A timeless book that shows life through the eyes of an Otter, Tarka, in the beautiful Devon countryside. I remember not liking the ending of this book and refusing to ever read it again, however I think it is one I shall try and revisit.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Chuck LoPresti

    I read this immediately after, and because of The Peregrine. Both are ostensibly about their animal protagonists but what's consistent in both is an underlying commentary about the humans that are observing them. Tarka is much more adventurous and battle after battles rages through forest, froth and foam. Williamson's prose is brilliant and rife with inventive language that is explained in the post-script. I might suggest reading that first because the reader will come across many words that are I read this immediately after, and because of The Peregrine. Both are ostensibly about their animal protagonists but what's consistent in both is an underlying commentary about the humans that are observing them. Tarka is much more adventurous and battle after battles rages through forest, froth and foam. Williamson's prose is brilliant and rife with inventive language that is explained in the post-script. I might suggest reading that first because the reader will come across many words that are either remnants of local languages or contemporary inventions. The creativity is appreciated and adds to the intensity of the experience. This is one of those reads that offers a little something for a variety of readers. Fans of great prose, nature fiction, word-nerds and NYRB fan-boys like myself will all enjoy this. I've read some reviews that call it dull - I do not agree at all but it does require patience and good attention to detail. Williamson does a great job of introducing subtle commentary on the nature of man, the history of England and the sport of hunting with restraint and measured skill. For example - many of the animals are given names. Why? I'd venture a guess in the form of a greater juxtaposition between man and animal. Hunting dogs are differentiated also by name and detailed description. Herons, Owls, seals and Otters are also granted unique sobriquets. There is a charm to this naming and it makes me think of my old lessons on de Saussure's semiotics. If we can peal back the layers of signification to reveal a greater understanding of the real essence of things to result in a more profound understanding in terms of epistemology and phenomenology we can appreciate in greater detail what Williamson has done here. This is both a threnody and paen to a time gone when otters and porpoises shared the waters with men on more equal terms. Williamson doesn't so much judge his subjects in man's terms but instead lets the impact of time and nature unfold before us. In this regard he shows a great sapience to man, his readers, and the creatures that he skillfully observes in this great book. NYRB scores again.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kkraemer

    In the early 20th Century, Henry Williamson repaired to north Devon to write. He'd returned from the war and used his familiarity with the natural world to produce this book, a chronicle of roughly 2 years of an otter's life. It's utterly fascinating. The otter lives in an environment rife with life, change, opportunity, joy, pain, food, and fear, and his perambulations allow the reader to not only see what the otter sees, but to hear the sounds of the birds, rats, fish, and other animals as well In the early 20th Century, Henry Williamson repaired to north Devon to write. He'd returned from the war and used his familiarity with the natural world to produce this book, a chronicle of roughly 2 years of an otter's life. It's utterly fascinating. The otter lives in an environment rife with life, change, opportunity, joy, pain, food, and fear, and his perambulations allow the reader to not only see what the otter sees, but to hear the sounds of the birds, rats, fish, and other animals as well as the plants as they wave at the sky. In some sections, it almost seems that one can smell the difference between water that contains salmon and water that contains mullet or soil or oil, and the feel of the air, water, plants, teeth and mud seems completely real. To make the writing even more delightful, Williamson uses the language of the place to tell the story. Can't you just imagine what "channeled" guts might look like in the estuary saltings after they'd been there awhile, wandering tracks in the salt turf? and haven't you heard the "belving" note of a deep-chested hound as it races along, tail serving as a rudder to keep it balanced along the ridge above a meandering creek? My favorite new word is "dimity," a word for twilight... At the end of this book, it's hard to come back to the wanderings of human life, despite its similarities to that of an otter, in Devon, one hundred years ago.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kristel

    This book was written in 1927. I give it four stars because it is ahead of its time as a fictional work that addresses ecology and other scientific premises so much that it begins to feel like a true story. It is set in the West Country of England or the county of Devon. Devonshire is about 200 miles from London. The language is a bit hard on the American reader because it uses a lot of words that defy meaning even in the dictionary such as fitch which I think is a weasel. The author also lists This book was written in 1927. I give it four stars because it is ahead of its time as a fictional work that addresses ecology and other scientific premises so much that it begins to feel like a true story. It is set in the West Country of England or the county of Devon. Devonshire is about 200 miles from London. The language is a bit hard on the American reader because it uses a lot of words that defy meaning even in the dictionary such as fitch which I think is a weasel. The author also lists the location on every page of the book giving the story a sense of place. The reader follows Tarka up and down the Two Rivers area and the Severn Sea. The author's use of language is an important part of the book and the imagery is nature-nature as man plays only a minor unbecoming part in the book. The reader is also immersed in the cycle of life and death. Tarka is the protagonist and his life is but four years. His short life was quite exhausting for the reader as well as the otter. The author's title is Tarka the Otter His Joyful Water-Life and Death in the Country of Two Rivers. The introduction b y Robert Finch states, "By convincing us of Tarka's joy, it may prepare us to change out sympathies, that is ,our notion of what constitutes joy." I would recommend this book if you enjoy prose and nature.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Emily Randall

    This is a classic aimed at older children. It is very unique as it is written in the perspective of an animal that has not been humanised within the narrative. It contains a bleak picture indicating the dangers faced by otters prior to the new laws set to protect them since its publication and some perils still faced today! It indicates the harshness of human kind who's persecution of them and pollution nearly resulted in their extinction. There are is a glossary of local terminology in the back This is a classic aimed at older children. It is very unique as it is written in the perspective of an animal that has not been humanised within the narrative. It contains a bleak picture indicating the dangers faced by otters prior to the new laws set to protect them since its publication and some perils still faced today! It indicates the harshness of human kind who's persecution of them and pollution nearly resulted in their extinction. There are is a glossary of local terminology in the back which is rather useful as it contains words for hedgehogs, stoats, wrens etc that may not be apparent whilst reading. This book has some incredible imagery of otters playing and bonding which really helps the reader to engage with the animals within the book. I found it very moving and still wonder at the impact it had upon me when I first read this book as a child - no wonder I have strong views surrounding hunting!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    I learned something important to me from reading this book: even if it focuses on your favorite animal, that doesn't mean you'll enjoy it. This may have been great fiction in the year it was written, but now it falls flat. For me at least. You could turn the book to any random page and probably nothing would be happening. There were few characters and they weren't well-developed or interesting...probably because they're feral animals. I felt a little pity at the ending, but it certainly wasn't m I learned something important to me from reading this book: even if it focuses on your favorite animal, that doesn't mean you'll enjoy it. This may have been great fiction in the year it was written, but now it falls flat. For me at least. You could turn the book to any random page and probably nothing would be happening. There were few characters and they weren't well-developed or interesting...probably because they're feral animals. I felt a little pity at the ending, but it certainly wasn't much. The only up-side to this book was that it had wonderful descriptions of nature and its inhabitants. The made-up words were also very cool. But still, very little plot, characters, depth, etc. Also of note: location on map where Tarka was was written in the margins, with a map near the beginning. That was cool. And illustrations every now and then are great.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    The one book from my childhood that I'd like to re-read someday. Looks like it has faded into obscurity in this part of the world... The one book from my childhood that I'd like to re-read someday. Looks like it has faded into obscurity in this part of the world...

  24. 5 out of 5

    Taylor Lee

    Tarka the Otter is a unique masterpiece, in which the Devon countryside, through the gratuitous density of Williamson’s writing, emerges before the reader: a forested, seasonal, vivacious creature itself, home of course to all manner of creatures and customs. This is a book in which the natural world becomes not the subject of human scrutiny, but rather subsumes even the human eye and dagger to its swirl. Williamson firmly refuses to trip into the pit of anthropomorphism. Instead, his story weav Tarka the Otter is a unique masterpiece, in which the Devon countryside, through the gratuitous density of Williamson’s writing, emerges before the reader: a forested, seasonal, vivacious creature itself, home of course to all manner of creatures and customs. This is a book in which the natural world becomes not the subject of human scrutiny, but rather subsumes even the human eye and dagger to its swirl. Williamson firmly refuses to trip into the pit of anthropomorphism. Instead, his story weaves and turns, plays, observes, reacts, and delights much as the sun, dazzling a late summer river, or a wren floating on gusts of turbulence, does— namely, instinctively, often joyously, and with no machination or ambition. Williamson’s language is very much a thing of local color and, for that reason, especially today, it is a fascination delighting and richly curious.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sammy

    If David Attenborough decided to write fiction, I imagine it would turn out something like this... One of the better books with animals, because the author didn't feel the need to turn them into what amounts to furry humans. This otter is an otter. Of course, when it comes to otters, they do work really well as talking, fully clothed (and potty-mouthed...) almost-humans. Just ask Mudge! ( one of the main characters from the Spellsinger series, in case you were wondering. Mudge is awesome.) If David Attenborough decided to write fiction, I imagine it would turn out something like this... One of the better books with animals, because the author didn't feel the need to turn them into what amounts to furry humans. This otter is an otter. Of course, when it comes to otters, they do work really well as talking, fully clothed (and potty-mouthed...) almost-humans. Just ask Mudge! ( one of the main characters from the Spellsinger series, in case you were wondering. Mudge is awesome.)

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

    Not a Disney-fied version of animal life. A stark tale of life for otters and other wild life of the English countryside, up against man, predators and the everyday struggle for survival. And yet, at times, the interaction of the otters with one another, the descriptions of the countryside and nature, the changing of the seasons, is beautiful and gentle. Not for children under 12.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Polansky

    Episodes in the life of a south English otter. Reading this it occurred to me I never read nature writing and don't really love it, but that's purely down to predilection and I imagine most people would have enjoyed it. Episodes in the life of a south English otter. Reading this it occurred to me I never read nature writing and don't really love it, but that's purely down to predilection and I imagine most people would have enjoyed it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Claus Brinker

    This is a fantastic and bizarre account of the life of an otter filled with lush details of the ecology of North Devon in the early 20th century.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Abby

    A cross between Watership Down and Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, but sadly, no where near as good as either

  30. 4 out of 5

    Amy Hutchinson

    This story didn't have a very strong plot but I found it relaxing and whimsical This story didn't have a very strong plot but I found it relaxing and whimsical

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