Monday, 21 February 2011

Turtle Diary by Russell Hoban

When I bought this book from a second hand shop I thought it was a non-fiction account of two people liberating turtles from a zoo but in fact it's a novel written in the form of diary entries from the two main characters.

William is a dissatisfied bookshop assistant and Neaera is a children's author suffering from writer's block. Both of them are lonely and both of them separately become obsesses with the turtles in their local zoo and find themselves meeting to plot to release the turtles back into the ocean.

There then follows a story of planning and uncertainty, of two people discovering themselves and rethinking their relationship with nature. It's a lovely, thoughtful novel and the writing is beautiful, particularly when describing the turtles.

There they were in the golden green murk of their little box of sea, their bedsitter of ocean. One almost expected a meter in the corner of it where they had to put 5p to keep the water circulating. Thousands of miles in their speechless eyes, submarine skies in their flipper wings. No beach of course, no hot sand for the gravid females to crawl up on to, to lay their eggs.

Turtle Diary by Russell Hoban published by Jonathan Cape 1975, republished by Bloomsbury 2000

12 comments:

Sam said...

How enchanting! Sounds wonderful, might have to look that up on Amazon :)

Glo said...

It sounds like you unearthed a treasure of a book, and must have been a special surprise. The passage you quoted uses amazing language, creating wonderful images.

I really enjoy reading epistolary books, and found a site here with a long list ~

http://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/epistolary

I recognized the author's name as a children's book writer, and became reacquainted with his bio through googling

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell_Hoban

The Turtle Diary was made into a movie as well. Thanks for sharing your treasure with us.

Naquillity said...

sounds like an interesting read. hope all is well.

gabriellebryden said...

That is lovely writing - sounds like a good read. We have huge turtles (loggerheads and others) around here that lay their eggs (they call this area and further North the turtle coast) - can't imagine them in captivity, as they swim such long distances.

Kay said...

I will look for this one!

Caroline Gill said...

This sounds just the book for me. I have almost finished Tracy Chevalier's latest (part fiction, part factual) novel on the fossil fish and 'turtles' at Lyme. I am still pondering over the ID of this 'creature' I photographed in the sea in Greece last autumn ...

DazyDayWriter said...

Love this, Juliet. What a unique way to write a novel, has appeal! Thanks for sharing. I wrote a poem about a turtle once; I'll have to find it ... :) They are curious creatures that always inspire me to S L O W D O W N :) Best always, Daisy

James said...

One of my favorite books from grad school was Riddley Walker. I've never read anything else by Hoban (aside from his kids books when I was very young). This makes me want to delve deeper.

Artemesia said...

In case you didn't know..Turtle Diary was adapted into a movie. I saw it years ago and it is an enchanting film. On Google I found this for your interest:

http://www.videosurf.com/turtle-diary-96382

Enjoy,
Artemesia

Megan Coyle said...

oh wow, what beautiful language :) must be a lovely read.

Lucy said...

Along with 'Riddley Walker' this made Hoban one of my favourite writers about 25 years ago. It's a lovely book, speaks straight to the heart somehow; I love how although it's such a wild scheme and there's so much potential for setbacks and pursuits and other quite high action, it all goes completely smoothly, and everyone just acccepts what they're doing and goes along with it! And the two don't fall in love either.

There was a good film of it too, which was never made much of, despite a wonderful cast including Glenda Jackson, Michael Gambon and Ben Kingsley.

Thanks so much for reminding me of the book, J, I think I might have to look out a 2nd hand copy of it and reread, as I no longer have it.

Deb G said...

Just wanted to add my vote, I saw the movie too and it was enchanting.