On a hot summer's day there could be no quicker transport to the seaside than Trevor Norton's cool and entrancing account of a lifetime's adventures under or near the water. Norton's eye for the bizarre, amazing, and beautiful inhabitants of the oceans, and the eccentric characters who work, study, and live by the shore make his book a wonder-filled experience. An intrepid diver and distinguished scientist, Norton's writing is self-deprecating, very funny, and full of wry and intriguing anecdotes; he is an unfailingly delightful companion. Whether his setting is a bed of jewel anemones in an Irish lough, a giant California cavern shared with sea lions, a mildewed research station, or the glittering coral gardens of Sharm el Sheikh, his captivating prose always finds the mark. Sometimes following the shoreline with earlier beachcombers such as Darwin, John Steinbeck, and George Orwell, Norton also takes the reader to depths where the shapes of creatures living without sunlight defy imagination. Admirers of the gorgeous detail of Rachel Carson's The Sea Around Us will revel in Norton's writing, his observations, and irreverent wit.
Seeing the Light
St Marys Island, Northumberland
We lived on the second floor and viewed the sea through windows misted with salt. At night the beams from the lighthouse swept my ceiling.
I was seven when we had the worst winter for a century. The seaweed went stiff with rime and even the tide pools froze. A Greek freighter was driven ashore to perch upright and drip rust on to the rocks.
Snow drifted in an arc right up to my bedroom window and, if Id had the courage, I could have slid down to the ground. Dad dug a tunnel out from the front door and carried me to school on his shoulders through a deep trench, and only I could see the surface of the sun-dazzled snow. For a few weeks we lived at the North Pole and I expected Father Christmas to sleigh round the corner at any moment. Then the myth melted, the streets turned to soiled slush and Santa, I suppose, was out of the question.
The following summer we walked to Currys Point at the ...
Despite Norton's wit and encyclopedic knowledge, after a while the rambling takes on the feel of a "brain dump" .... The saving grace is Norton's deep and profound love of the sea which shines clearly on every page, which is enough to amply redeem Underwater To Get Out of The Rain from its arguable faults.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (422 words).
Trevor Norton is Professor of Marine Biology at the University of Liverpool. He is the author of a number of popular natural history books, including Reflections on a Summer Sea and Stars Beneath The Sea. His writing has been described as "by turns funny and gripping" by the Guardian and a "racing current of excitement, adventure and discovery" by New Scientist.
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