Veteran British nature writer Clarkson (Ice Trek, 1987, etc.) returns, this time with a thin if well-meaning story of a 37-year- old widow who rehabilitates an injured osprey. Like one of those windy, plodding, self-serious fellows so aptly skewered by Evelyn Waugh in Scoop, Clarkson here tells the story of a giant bird named Iasgair (``fisherman'' in bird language, explains the author). Iasgair almost dies when he gets ensnared in a fishing net, but he's rescued by kindhearted widow Nicola Frayle, who takes the bird home and feeds him fish sticks. Then, with the help of a neighbor, Martin Collier, an ex-soldier who runs a nearby trout fishery, Nicola builds Iasgair a perch in her garden. The bird slowly heals, but when Iasgair is strong enough to fly away, he refuses to migrate to Africa or head back to the Scottish Highlands, his natural breeding grounds. Instead, he stays put and relies on Nicola's daily handouts. The reclusive widow still hasn't gotten over the death of her husband two years before, but, yes, thanks to Martin, she learns to love again. Reluctantly, Nicola comes to trust and rely on him, and although she feels a deep attachment to Iasgair, she now agrees that he must be set free. She and Martin take Iasgair to the Highlands, where he finds his mate, and he, as do Nicola and Martin, lives happily ever after. Not for those wanting something like Thoreau's Goshawk, a deep meditation on man and nature. There's some soothing, magazine-style nature writing here, but it's delivered by means of a threadbare YA plot, along with much lecturing on modern food production and the meaning of the food chain.
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