Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile

  • by Verlyn Klinkenborg
  • Narrated by Josephine Bailey
  • 5 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Few writers have attempted to explore the natural history of a particular animal by adopting the animal's own sensibility. But Verlyn Klinkenborg, with his deeply empathetic relation to the world around him, has done just that, and done it brilliantly, in Timothy; or Notes of an Abject Reptile. This is the story of a tortoise whose real life was observed by the 18th century English curate Gilbert White, author of The Natural History of Selborne. For 13 years, Timothy lived in White's garden, making an occasional appearance in his journals. Now Klinkenborg gives the tortoise an unforgettable voice and powers of observation as keen as those of any bipedal naturalist. The happy result: Timothy regales us with an account of a gracefully paced, eight-day adventure outside the gate, and entertains us with shrewd observations about the curious habits and habitations of humanity. Wry and wise, unexpectedly moving, and enchanting, Timothy will surprise and delight people of all ages.

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What the Critics Say



Library Journal Starred Review
Booklist Starred Review
Kirkus Starred Review
Publishers Weekly Starred Review
"Hilarious and revealing...Verlyn Klinkenborg's perception of the interconnectedness of life is sublime." (Booklist)
"Charming and most enjoyable...Klinkenborg's prose is a pleasure to hear." (The New York Times)
"Magical...Timothy comes down off the shelf of the Natural History Museum and comes alive." (Chicago Tribune)
"[A] gorgeous hybrid of naturalist observation, novelistic invention and philosophical meditation...studied, beautiful reflections on the present and memory, earth and weather, love and utility, human and beast. This is a wholly unexpected and astonishing book." (Publishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

No abject reptile, this!

As an avid reader of all sorts of literature, philosophy, medicine, history, etc for more yrs than I care to count, I never knew there was a book like this. Immediately after the first listening, I listened again, and later, twice more. Hurrah for a turtle's view of the human world! A quiet pleasure, like a conversation with an old, dear friend.
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- S. Wells

unusual, wonderfully charming

This is not a book for those seeking action and thrills, but is lovely and beautifully written. Timothy, a tortoise, is spirited away from the Mediterranean to the garden of an English clergyman. We see the inexplicable strangeness of two-legged beings through Timothy's eyes, and are given the rare opportunity to enjoy the gentle wisdom of this almost other-worldly species.
It is a bit difficult, in the beginning, to understand the accent and old-fashioned language, but hang in there. As you become used to the cadence and tone, you will come to appreciate the lyrical quality...well worth the effort!
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- Myra

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-30-2006
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio