EDWARD STANFORD SHORTLIST: RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR by Philip Hoare

Review published on January 22, 2018.

We call it Planet Earth, but actually, 70% of the surface is of the planet is watery; hence why some think that it should be called the blue planet. Even as humans beings around 60% of our mass is water, entwining us to our planet. There are stories to be found too; at the point where the sea meets the land is a place that people find comfort, face their inner demons and discover their inner purpose. The sea can be a mirror to our moods too, a millpond ocean will calm, whereas a storm crashing against the shore spikes our adrenaline.

Philip Hoare has an intimate connection to the sea, swimming from a beach near his home almost every day. When he is away from home he makes the most of the opportunities to swim whenever he can. He tells us of the moment of feeling rather than hearing whale song, swimming off the coast of Cape Cod and coming out of the water shivering and blue. Woven into his own experiences of the sea are the stories that he has collected about artists, poets, the famous and the unknown and the strands that link them to the sea. There is a little bit of everything in here from science to history and art, but Hoare does return to those magnificent creatures that are his passion and that he first wrote about in Leviathan, the whales.

Having read Leviathan and The Sea Inside I was really looking forward to this third book of musings on all things oceanic. The mix of subjects and genres with black and white photos make this a striking book. There is a lot to like in here too, with some truly dazzling prose, but I thought it didn’t quite have the focus of his other books and felt like it drifted a little too far from the shore. Still worth reading though.

Paul Cheney 3.5/-

RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR by Philip Hoare
Fourth Estate 9780008133665 hbk Jul 2017

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