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Tarka the Otter
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1001 book reviews > Tarka the Otter - Williamson

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Kristel (kristelh) | 3821 comments Mod
Read 2010
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.


Diane | 1918 comments Rating: 3 stars


A story about an otter and his story of survival in the English countryside, as told by the otter himself. It is believed to be an analogy of the author's experiences of survival during WWI. The author observed otters in the wild for many years in order to learn their habits and behaviors. The name "Tarka" means "water wanderer". It is interesting to note that otters were hunted to near extinction in the UK by the 1970's, and have recently began to repopulate.

I originally believed this to be a children's story, but now in retrospect am not so sure, as it is missing some of the usual elements seen in children's novels. From a child's perspective, I think this would be a boring book as there are too many elements that you would need to be an adult to appreciate.


Amanda Dawn | 895 comments I really enjoyed this one and gave it 4 stars. It gave me Wind and the Willows and Watership Down vibes. This book works on both the literal naturalistic level (and was great ambiance for walking in the park since I listened to it on audio), and as a metaphor for the struggle of human life/conflict (the WWI connection is cool and fits perfectly). It fits in the groove of nature themed books that often get represented as children’s books but have this transcendentalist undertone that I really like.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Hello to all. I just wanted to mention that we are going to read this novel as a group (something of a book club) at judges-penitent.com, so if anyone wants to join in, please feel free. We're not starting until next week, so anyone who wants to join can secure a copy in the meantime.

Much thanks.


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