The Wall Street Journal just named Ring of Bright Water: A Trilogy by Gavin Maxwell one of the top five best nature books alongside such classics as Walden by Henry David Thoreau and A Book of Hours by Donald Culross Peattie:
No shelf of nature books would be complete without a volume examining the bond between people and those animal species we have invited into our homes—that rich, reciprocal process of domestication for which the term "pet" seems trivializing. I know no author who writes more satisfyingly about pets than the Scottish writer Gavin Maxwell. After World War II, having failed as a portrait painter in London, he retreated to a remote stretch of Highland coastline and began to write. In "Ring of Bright Water," Maxwell spends the first 70 pages convincing the reader that he's basically a dour and misanthropic fellow—until he makes a whimsical decision "to keep an otter instead of a dog." And so Mijbal enters his life. A sleek master of gyrating, torpedoing, somersaulting "aquabatics," Mijbal becomes an indefatigable symbol of everything that is playful and self-delighting in the universe. And Maxwell enters a "thralldom to otters." The book offers us a lovely, unlikely metamorphosis: an otter turning a man into a pussycat.