Playing With Water

James Hamilton-Paterson

Playing With Water by James Hamilton-Paterson is a true tale of passion and solitude on a Philippine island.

Date Published
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‘One June day in 1953 aged twelve I sat in a classroom and drew a map.’

The map that the young Hamilton-Paterson drew was of a tropical island, and it prefigured with uncanny accuracy the Philippine island on which, thirty years later, he would spend a full third of each year, entirely alone. It had a coral strand, a field of grass, vertical volcanic cliffs and no water. He survived by fishing and by drinking rainwater.

This is a book about a remarkable and self-sufficient writer’s ‘desire to be lost’, and the journey of a conventionally educated Englishman to an island on the far side of the world that aroused in him a feeling of discovering a place he always knew. Hamilton-Paterson writes with incomparable skill about the hard beauty of the sea, of coral reefs and the animals that live in them, and about the fishermen who eke a living among the labyrinth of islands that make up the Philippines.

Critic Reviews

A work of such genuine commitment, balanced perception and responsive passion that it will certainly be condemned to become a classic.

New York Times
Critic Reviews

A classic travel book... entirely original: at once astringently and gorgeously written.

Andrew Harvey
Critic Reviews

Unforgettable. The Philippine landscape and these remote islanders are crystalline and at the same time mysterious; the writing itself superb.

Ronald Blythe

James Hamilton-Paterson is the author of the bestselling Empire of the Clouds, which was hailed as a classic account of the golden age of British aviation. He won a Whitbread Prize for his first novel, Gerontius, and among his many other celebrated books are Seven-Tenths, one of the finest books written in recent times about the oceans, the satirical trilogy…

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