An Eagle in the Airing Cupboard by Rex Harper
|An Eagle in the Airing Cupboard by Rex Harper|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: More true tales from an animal sanctuary in the highly recommended sequel to An Otter on the Aga.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 304||Date: July 2008|
|Publisher: Headline Review|
We first met Rex Harper in An Otter on the Aga where he told us of how he and his wife, Julie worked first to help injured or abused animals and then founded their own animal sanctuary. It was a book of laughter, sadness at the way that some people will treat animals and gratitude that there are people like Rex and Julie who devote their lives to the welfare of animals. At the end of Otter the sanctuary had been taken over by the RSPCA and An Eagle in the Airing Cupboard takes up where Otter finished and looks at a year in the life of a warden.
The trouble with sequels is that they're so often just a pale imitation of the first, written to cash in on a success and delivering little that's new. Rex is now a full-time RSPCA warden and whilst he might draw on examples from the earlier part of his life these are all new and fresh stories which look at the work of the charity and the lives of the people and animals at the centre. Thankfully his publishers realised that he had (at least) two good books rather than just one.
Some of the animals that you'll meet are domestic animals fallen, for one reason or another, on hard times. It might be the dog left in a sweltering car which was only rescued with the help of a crowbar and some cold water or the snake that grew to be far too big for the family with whom it lived. Equally there are farm animals who suffer through cruelty or ignorance. Too many people go to Cornwall in the hope of starting a new life with some animals about them and then realise that the reality is rather harsher than they expected. It's often the animals who suffer the most.
The stories are told with a stark honesty. Too often books like this tell the good parts but omit the failures and mistakes. Rex Harper is honest about when he got something wrong and equally keen to give credit for what others have done. You'll meet all sorts of people – some you'll cry for and others you could cheerfully kick and there must be just about every animal commonly encountered in this country in the book, from the smaller rodents right up through to horses. Whatever your taste there will be something to delight you in this book.
The style is simple and direct with short chapters which are ideal if you want to dip into and out of the book. I read it through in one sitting – I couldn't put it down – and at the end I wished that there had been more. There's also the bonus of the quirky illustrations at the beginning of each chapter – all done by Rex himself.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of this enchanting book to The Bookbag.
We know of someone who made the move to the South West and surrounded himself with animals, but then Graeme Simms has more sense and empathy with animals than most. But if Eagle in the Airing Cupboard appeals to you then you must read the first book An Otter on the Aga. Both can be read as stand alone books and it really doesn't which order you read them in – just read them!
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.