27. Otherwise

Otherwise by Farley Mowat

Pages: 309
Finished: Feb. 7, 2009
First Published: Oct. 28, 2008
Genre: non-fiction, memoir, autobiography
Rating: 3.5/5

Reason for Reading: receive a Review Copy from the publisher, McClelland & Stewart.

First sentence:

Born in Mid-May 1921 -- lilac time in the small town of Trenton on the northern shore of Lake Ontario's Bay of Quinte -- I spent my early years messing about in swamps, woods, and farmyards; falling in and out of boats; and surviving in various decrepit houses while establishing fundamental relationships with such disparate beings as snapping turtles, portly spiders, rapier-billed herons, honeybees, a bear who visited me in dreams, Charlie Haultain's silver foxes, crayfish and eels, water snakes along the Murray Canal, a passel of mongrel dogs, and Beatrix -- an enormous earthworm who lived through an entire winter in a tin can by my bedside.

Comments: Otherwise is Farley Mowat's memoirs of his life between the years 1937 and 1948. The opening pages quickly get us to his teen year's and his last year of living in Saskatchewan where he became a friend for life of the Others (the wildlife). Farley's family moves frequently but he always manages to find local wildlife whether they be living in small rooms or on a boat. Farley, along with his pals, volunteer and join the service where he was to spend the days of World War II fighting mostly in Italy. Finally after the War he comes home, marries, but is unable to settle down to 'post-war' life and he goes on ventures for the scientific community back to Saskatchewan and finally up to the northernmost parts of Canada where he spends time with the in-land Inuit.

The time frame this book covers parts of his life that are written in more detail in such books as And No Birds Sang and The Dog Who Wouldn't Be. While those books are about certain experiences in his life, this book is about him directly and the defining years of his life, the years that made him the man that he came be. Beautifully written, compelling reading, humorous and touching at times Mowat knows how to write and fans of the author will not be disappointed with his latest foray. While not exactly a page-turner, it is the type of book that is hard to put down and I often picked it up to read over my current fiction book before turning the lights out at night. An all-round enjoyable read with fascinating information about Saskatchewan wild-life, scientific procedures of the thirties and forties, Canadian army life and the Inuit. This would also be the perfect book to read for those who have never had the pleasure of reading Farley Mowat.


  1. I have never read anything by Farley Mowat but I hope to one of these days. Do you know of other books he wrote that you would recommend?

    I added the link to the ARC Challenge post. Congrats on finishing level one of the challenge! You are the first to finish!!

  2. Oh, I didn't realize I was the first! Oh, there are lots of Mowat I'd recommend. I've mostly read his earlier books, though. This is a good one to start with as it gives you an idea of what you can expect from his other work.

    Other good ones are his children's book "Owls in the Family" which tells of his childhood on the prairies and his two pet owls, The Boat that Wouldn't Float (his sailing adventures on the boat from Hell), The People of the Deer (about the Inuit) and "And No Birds Sang" (about his time served in WWII) and of course his famous "Never Cry Wolf" about his time studying wolves, living amongst them in the North).

    Well I probably gave you too many to choose from but pick the one that sounds most interesting.

  3. Oh John :-) I know your opinion of Mowat! LOL I enjoy his work though and this is at least consistent with what he's already written about the same time frame.


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