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In concise vivid chapters that alternate between the perspectives of animals and humans.
First-time novelist Clarke dramatizes the life and death of a stream flowing through the English countryside over a five-year period - during which environmentalists fail to stop the building of an industrial park and a drought exacerbates the deleterious changes development brings.
He offers a fish's-eye view by focusing on a trout's attempt to live the life "the law that governed all things" decreed that he should live even as the once clean and cool stream turns warm and sluggish thickened by silt and choke-weed and poisoned with chemical runoff.
An astute knowledgeable naturalist Clarke also imagines the experiences of a swan an otter a heron and even a mayfly.
Equally sensitive to human nature he portrays a father and son at odds over industrial agricultural methods environmentalists and businessmen a politician and a journalist.
The winner of Britain's BP Natural World Book Prize Clarke's powerfully evocative tale traces the intricate choreography of life and reveals how easily it can be disrupted.
Donna Seaman American Library Association
Hardcover 175pgs 206x135mm 2004