Ring of Bright Water (Ring of Bright Water, #1)
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Ring of Bright Water (Ring of Bright Water #1)

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  1,224 ratings  ·  59 reviews

Ring of Bright Water' represents Gavin Maxwell's account of his life at Camusfearna, a remote cottage in the western Highlands, and in particular the two otters, Mijbil and Edal, who became his constant and much-loved companions.

Paperback, 240 pages
Published October 6th 1987 by Penguin Books (first published 1960)
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Krenner1
Although this was written in the 60s, I just found it after reading a Wall Street Journal list of the best nature writing. This is a lovely read about a writer who lives in an isolated Scottish home in summer. This is not a book of fast plot or twists, but it is equisite description of the home and life there, and of how life changes when the writer acquires a pet otter. With sophisticated writing and vocabulary, even the fawning over this beloved otter avoids sentimentality or cuteness, and sus...more
Timothy Davis
Forever after you read A Ring of Bright Water, the beauty, wonder, and humor of this book will gently surface with a ring of bright ripples in the waters of you mind. I am never able to remember this book without simultaneously wanting to laugh and to cry-and always with a sense of awed wonder. This is the true story of Gavin's befriending of otters (or perhaps we should say of the otters' decision to befriend Gavin.) In one scene, on the first night Gavin has one of the otters in his home, the...more
Cameron
I osmosed the movie based on Ring of Bright Water as an animal-obsessed kid, and read the book not long after. While I imagine that some British neomarxist critics might furrow their brows at Maxwell's use of a pastoral escape device that drives the plot, I'm not coldhearted (or disentangled from ideology) enough to dismiss Maxwell's love of both the rustic Scottish seascape, and of otterkind.

Devastatingly sad at times, but sleek and beautiful, this is an animal story classic that has mostly go...more
Lainy
At the begining of the book I found it quite hard going. Very descriptive of scenery and for me it dragged. I was desperate to hear about the otter and he didn't appear until after page 40. However once he started getting into Mij and his antics and how he coped with living with an otter it was a fantastic read. For those non animals lovers I don't know how much if at all this book would appeal to you but I enjoyed it and will be reading no.2 soon.
Iain Cosgrove
I think this book has to be in my absolute top ten of all time. There is something timeless about this book, and the core tenets (love and loyalty) are universal and translate across the decades. The sense of place you get from Maxwells writing is amazing and the sentiment is palpable. A must have for anyone with a love of both good stories and animals.
Cameron
Aug 26, 2007 Cameron rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: nature
A wonderful book to read when you are neither here, nor there. Eye opening. Good to read before bed. Not much substance, except for the substance of place, which is vivid, and the relationship between an otter and a human.
Steph
I read this as a young girl and was struck by the beauty of writing and the story itself. I have read many books but not many have stayed with me the way this one has.
Michael
I like the writer's use of his landscape, the ecology of his surroundings and the suitable habitat for his otters. He establishes his place as well as theirs within an environment that is both sustainable and abundant, yet never lacks for knowledge or description of new wonders. Reminds me of Solomon's Ring, by Konrad Lorenz, in that it addresses animal behavior, also Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat or possibly Gorillas in the Mist, by Jane Goodall. There is a certain lesson to be learned too, fr...more
Jessica
I watched the movie Ring of Bright Water several years ago and was absolutely taken by the story. I am what one may call an extreme animal lover and am drawn to such accounts. Due to my upbringing, I'm also fascinated by individuals who choose to live outside of the hub of society. In Ring of Bright Water, Maxwell recounts the early years at "Camusfearna", an isolated house in a remote part of Scotland and his subsequent adventures and misadventures raising three otters.

The way in which Maxwell...more
Malvina Yock
This was one of two books that I couldn't finish when I studied it at high school, many years ago. In fact, I remember reading the study notes the night before the exam to find out what happened at the end of the book, but promptly falling asleep. Fortunately I was able to avoid any questions on the book and passed the exam. Returning to it now was still a mental challenge, but one I was determined to overcome. Of course it was a vastly different read now, one of pleasure and enjoyment. The firs...more
David R.  Godine
"Gavin Maxwell was to otters what Joy Adamson was to lions, Dian Fossey to gorillas, Jane Goodall to chimpanzees and Grey Owl to beavers. Ring of Bright Water was one of the twentieth-century's most popular wildlife books (top of the U.S. bestseller lists for a year, over two million sold worldwide) and was habitually bracketed with Thoreau's Walden, Gilbert White's Natural History of Selborne and Henry Williamson's Tarka the Otter."
— Douglas Botting, Gavin Maxwell: A Life

"One of the outstandin...more
Gobasso
I enjoyed this book. It is the first in the "Ring of Bright Water" trilogy. After reading this book I intend to read the other two. Maxwell's writing is evocative and makes one see and feel the countryside of Western Scotland. His descriptions of his playful otters made me think I would want one as a pet. But this cautionary tale also fully shows the drawbacks of keeping a wild animal as a pet. This book was written fifty years ago and I found myself contrasting the authors encounters with natur...more
Kris
I thought this was a sweet book, and even though I'm against keeping any wild animal as a pet, I can appreciate the author's tales & stories of his time in Scotland & his love of his 'pets', be they otters, dogs, or geese. The stories of his otter Mij & his antics is the best part (and majority) of the book, & I have to think that most who enjoy reading about animals would also love this read.
I do have to note that I've seen where this is considered a children's book, but don't u...more
Clare O'Beara
I read this book as a young person and although I was a very advanced reader, with a great love of nature, I struggled through the first several long and boring chapters. This is not at all a book for children.

The author goes to Scotland for peace while he is writing up his diaries and studies on the Marsh Arabs, with whom he has spent a considerable time. He describes his surroundings.

Eventually we get to see Mij the otter. Then the story gets interesting. Unlike the film Mij was not found in a...more
Jack Gibson
A beautiful read. Inspired by the great Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna film. Great narrative about living in very rural Scotland, and comparing this with urban life-for example, a 100 mile hard trip to buy a pair of jeans! Mij the otter and also interestingly about a Lemur which Gavin gained as a pet.
Maxwell was a very well educated man, and it was a very homely experience to read about this part of his life.
Eleanor
Lovely book. Maxwell is a bit full of himself and the story can be a bit slow at times, but this may be because he isn't really writing fiction, but a true account of his life with otters on the isle of Skye. His description of the island will ring true with anyone who has ever visited Skye themselves and know how beautiful it is.
Micha
Get out your Kleenex! This is a tear jerker. Always wanted an otter as a child, as an adult I know that's not the best idea for the animal, but still spend hours at the zoo or aquarium watching them whenever I have the chance. They made an outstanding movie based on this book.
Kate Croft
Everyone should read this gorgeous ode to Hebridean nature and the communion of animal and man. Maxwell's soaring prose makes even the most mundane things (fish boxes, otter excrement) eloquent, and his love for creatures and places now lost will render any reader's heart.
Kirsten
A beautifully-written book! The author tells his story of living with otters in his home, and he speaks very lovingly and candidly about what it was like. It's a very touching story, and the author has a wonderful command of words! Well worth reading.
Harriette Arthur
An absolute classic.

Escape the rat race by reading this masterpiece of a novel that will transport you in to the world of nature, flora and fauna and isolated bliss.

This book always helps to calm my mind.
Elizabeth
Another book I read as a young teen. I fell in love with Midge and was so jealous that I could not have a pet otter. The writing was wonderful and I wonder if this is where my love for Scotland started?
Heidi
I was utterly (or should I say "otterly") enchanted with this story! The author's descriptive powers and deep love for all living creatures swept me away to a delightful destination. Pure joy!
Leslie
Don't quite remember how old I was when my mother read me this book. Loved it and have had a soft spot for otters ever since.
If I hadn't had my current career, I would've rescued animals.
Anna





I've already sobbed like a broken woman at the death of Johnny the spaniel. Goodness knows how I'll cope once we get to the otter death that wounded me when I saw the film as a child.
Dawna
One of my all time favourites as a child and I adored the Film. All about an Otter called Midge who lives a naturistic life in the beauty of the Scottish Highlands.. Stunning!
Tim
Although a very strangely written book - with a slightly odd narrative, the language is lyrical and the story fascinating - especially for those of us who live in the highlands.

Christine
I read this years ago, and remains one of my favorites. It is such a simple story, but is told with such a sense of place and such vivid images that it is truly unforgettable.
Chris
Very unique voice. The writer is totally matter of fact, whether he's describing life on a remote Scottish island or having his pet lemur rip open an artery in his leg.
Alicia
A truly unique book about raising and caring for otters, with interesting undercurrents of international politics, personal identity, and British society.
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“We have long laboured under an obtuse presupposition that the senses by which other living creatures perceive their world must to a great extent resemble our own; but in fact we are, by scientific invention, only now beginning to approach methods of perception that the whales have always owned as their birthright.” 2 likes
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