Ring of Bright Water, Gavin Maxwell
I wanted to read this after having a go at Miriam Darlington’s Otter Country, which in many ways revolved around this book and the landscape described by Gavin Maxwell. He got much closer to the animals than Darlington, so perhaps it’s not surprising that his account is more interesting and vital. Otters were, not quite pets, but definitely companions for him, in a way that Darlington had no opportunity to understand.
Maxwell takes such a delight in the landscape and the antics of the creatures within it, both the wild ones and those he tamed or half-tamed, that it’s impossible not to enjoy this, for me. He wasn’t ashamed of his love for the animals, and sometimes that just shines through so clearly.
It’s not some adventure story, not such a battle of wills as, for instance, H is for Hawk chronicles. Mostly, it’s worth reading for that delight in nature, described with love and attention to detail. If you’re not interested in autobiography and nature writing, it’s probably not for you.