Professor George Branch Review
Professor George Branch and his wife Margo are well known to South African (and international) marine enthusiasts and readers. Their Living Shores - Interacting with southern Africa's Marine Ecosystems - is a classic. It's been in print since 1981, and was a key reference book for me when I wrote SHE DOWN THERE. They have been hero's of mine for that long. A few months ago I had the great pleasure of exchanging signed copies of our books - one of the highlights of my writing journey so far. When George agreed to write a review of SHE DOWN THERE I was nervous. What if he hated the book? His soon-to-be-published 900-word review brought relief and heartfelt gratitude. Here are a few excerpts:
"Buried in the mists of my memory is a book review that described some books as being good, others brilliant, and just a few that are ‘Aha!’ books. This is one of those. It is profoundly moving and plumbs the depths of human emotions. Its span is so great that it is difficult in a few words to catch what it covers."
I had to laugh (and cringe at my error) at this comment:
"Lynton’s formal training as a marine biologist shines through in the accuracy of his depictions. It required serious nit-pickiness to find fault: black mussels in Mozambique? Oh please, Lynton, black mussels are a cool-water species, replaced by brown mussels in warmer climes. Actually, my teasing tone reveals just how hard I had to dig to find fault: the impeccable scientific veracity of the book shines through its pages."
He continues ...
"But this is a novel, and the greatest depths of the book lie not so much in the science, as in the passionate love for the sea and the deep concerns about big issues: extinction, overfishing, plastic pollution, rare and endangered species. Lynton has a visceral feel for the ocean and its denizens."
"Inextricably entwined throughout the book are personal experiences that plumb the depths of human emotions, from the despair of death to the joyous love story so central to the book – which gently unfolds into deep passion and meshes seamlessly with another love affair: with the sea itself.
It would be remiss not to remark on the cover of the book by Jacques Kaiser, which Lynton describes as ‘a work of art’. It brilliantly captures the mystique of the book, with the swirl of emotions one experiences underwater, a hint of the romance, and the iconic creatures that are main players in the book. In a way, the cover is an abstract of my own appreciation for the book: the minuteness of humans in the grandeur of the oceans and its swirl of life, and the intimacy of our interactions with it.
Bravo, Lynton: quite simply, a unique book that haunts one long after reading, leaving one both challenged and uplifted. Lynton did me and my wife Margo the honor of inscribing a copy ‘there is a bit of both of you in the pages’. More than bit, Lynton; more than a bit! Your achievements as marine biologist, master diver, advisor to Two Oceans Aquarium, member of the Ocean Artists Society, Fellow of International League of Conservation Writers shine through in this book, and you deserve to add to those accomplishments the accolades this book should reap."