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Shortlisted for THE WAINWRIGHT PRIZE 2017
`The best popular account of the lives of otters written so far' Richard Shelton, Times Literary Supplement
When Simon Cooper bought an abandoned water mill that straddles a small chalkstream in southern England, little did he know that he would come to share the mill with a family of wild otters. Yet move in they did, allowing him to begin to observe them, soon immersing himself in their daily routines and movements. He developed an extraordinary close relationship with the family, which in turn gave him a unique insight into the life of these fascinating creatures.
Cooper interweaves the personal story of the female otter, Kuschta, with the natural history of the otter in the British Isles, only recently brought back from the brink of extinction through tireless conservation efforts. Following in the footsteps of Henry Williamson's classic 1920s tale Tarka the Otter, readers are taken on a journey through the calendar year, learning the most intimate detail of this most beautiful of British mammals. Cooper brings these beloved animals to life in all their wondrous complexity, revealing the previously hidden secrets of their lives in this beautifully told tale of the otter.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
`He summarizes his observations by telling the detailed story of a mother and her young and the male otter with which they occasionally interact. He does so with the charm of a Kenneth Grahame but with the scientific rigour of modern behavioural science. It is the best popular account of the lives of otters written so far.' Times Literary Supplement
`Offers something new, and ultimately optimistic.' New Scientist
`Boldly imaginative and with great skill, conservationist Simon Cooper fictionalises the story of the otter family ... Cooper's knowledge of otter behaviour is profound, but it's his brilliant storytelling that really brings the animals to life' Daily Mail
Praise for Simon Cooper:
`I loved the gentle flow of this book and the insight into both a pastime and a wonderful corner of the land.' BBC Countryfile
`Cooper's enthusiasm is so infectious' Daily Mail
`[Simon Cooper] is a renowned fly-fisher himself and, in this book, he writes as well as he casts [...] delightful [...] Mr Cooper is in love with chalkstreams and anyone who reads this splendid book will soon hold the same view.' Country Life
`We are taken on a delightful journey overflowing with passages that capture our imagination [...] It is both uplifting and therapeutic' Classic Angling