Granta Books The Butterfly Isles: A Summer in Search of Our Emperors and Admirals
Date of last review
Mon 31, January, 2011
Average Purchase Price
100% of reviewers
Butterflies animate our summers but the 59 butterfly species of the British Isles can be surprisingly elusive. Some bask unseen at the top of trees in London parks; others lurk at the bottom of damp bogs in Scotland. A few survive for months while other ephemeral creatures only fly for three days. Several are virtually extinct. This bewitching book charts Patrick Barkham's quest to find all 59 - from the Adonis Blue to the Dingy Skipper - in one unforgettable summer. Barkham brings alive the extraordinary physical beauty and amusingly diverse character of our butterflies. He witnesses a swarming invasion of Painted Ladies, experiences the curse of the Purple Emperor, makes a euphoric sighting of an exceedingly rare migrant and as summer draws to a close, suffers from butterfly burnout. He meets some deeply knowledgeable and eccentric butterfly obsessives and reconnects with lovely, overlooked corners of our countryside. As he goes, he looks back at the butterfly collectors of the past and ahead to a future in which many of our butterflies will struggle to survive on an overcrowded and overheating island. Wry, attentive, full of infectious delight and curiosity, written with a beautifully light touch, "Butterfly Isles" will become a classic of British nature writing.
Registered: July 2010 Location: London Posts: 5947
Review Date: Mon 31, January, 2011
Would you recommend it? Yes |
Total Spent: None indicated| Rating: 10
Informative, enthusiastic, evocative and beautifully written.
I can't honestly think of any, the book has given me too much for me to be nit-picky.
From cover to cover, and including the cover, I thought that this was a superb book. Patrick Barkham possesses an exceptional gift for descriptive writing.
In his effort to see all 59 butterfly species in the butterfly season, Barkham encounters various problems, hardships and heartaches along the way. There is deep darkness as well as moments of clarity and light in the book, but each seems to compliment the other perfectly. As though yin and yang are bound together in its pages.
For a novice like me, who often struggles to remember dry entomological facts, the world of butterflies slowly comes to life in a swirl color and movement. The beauty that I've overlooked has now been revealed, and the enthusiasm that I've been lacking is installed and raring for spring. Like H.I.M. himself, rising from some unmentionable substance and floating to the top of his master tree, this book is a rare tonic for a spirit beleaguered by too many dark days lacking in sunshine. If you read the book, you'll understand. ;-)