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The Sea Inside

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What to expect

The sea surrounds us. It gives us life, provides us with the air we breathe and the food we eat. It is where we came from, and it carries our commerce. It represents home and migration, ceaseless change and constant presence. It covers two-thirds of our planet. Yet caught up in our everyday lives, we seem to ignore it, and what it means.

In ‘The Sea Inside’, Philip Hoare sets out to rediscover the sea, its islands, birds and beasts. He begins on the south coast where he grew up, a place of family memory and an abiding sense of aloneness and almost monastic escape offered by the sea. From there he travels to the other side of the world, from the Isle of Wight to the Azores, from Sri Lanka to Tasmania and New Zealand, in search of encounters with animals and people – the wild and the tamed, the living and the extinct. Navigating between human and natural history, between science and myth, he asks what their stories mean for us now, in the twenty-first century, when the sea has never been so important to our present, as well as to our past and future.

Along the way we meet an amazing cast of recluses, outcasts, and travellers; from eccentric artists and scientists to miracle-working saints and tattooed warriors; from gothic ravens to the greatest whales and bizarre creatures that may, or may not, be extinct. ‘The Sea Inside’ is part bestiary, part memoir, part fantastical travelogue. It takes us on a magical journey of discovery, filled with astounding tales of faith and fear, wilderness and destruction, mortality and beauty. But more than anything, it is the story of the natural world, and the sea inside us all.

Critics Review

  • ‘As bracing as a great blustery lungful of ozone-filled air … Hoare has wonderful, almost child-like relish for colourful stories and incredible facts … His passionate engagement will infect you. As you close this book, you will probably feel as ecstatic as the author does after one of his cold morning dips.’ Rachel Campbell-Johnston, The Times

    ‘A beautifully written mixture of travelogue and essay … Hoare has invented a new genre: an elegy for something not yet lost.’ David Evans, Independent on Sunday

    ‘A passionate, wonderfully engaging book … His oceanic pursuit of the most remarkable animals on the planet has produced two books of the utmost interest.’ Christopher Hirst, Independent

    ‘Everything he writes is remarkably interesting, and always expressed in his singular prose, at the one and the same time both exact and numinous … Hoare’s enthusiasms are boundless … packed full of strange delights – perhaps a bit of a ragbag, but what rags! And what a bag!’ Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday ****

    ‘A grand cabinet of natural curiosities … The pace is exhilarating. The learning is profound. The surprises are tumultuous and the simple love of nature, in all its forms … is a delight.’ Jan Morris, Sunday Telegraph

    ‘Ceaselessly fascinating … In flowing, liquid prose, Hoare is drawn back and forth from story to story, place to place … This is a magnificent book.’ Carl Wilkinson, Financial Times

    ‘A profound and lyrical love affair.’ Bella Bathurst, Observer

    ‘Hoare weaves together stories of magic, faith and fear, of wilderness, destruction, mortality and nature’s often savage beauty … This is a work where it pays to go with the flow.’
    Gerard Henderson, Daily Express ****

    ‘Glorious stuff.’ Caspar Henderson, Guardian

    ‘The pace is exhilarating. The learning is profound’ Telegraph

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