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Mr B's review
What better way to celebrate a hundred years of Finnish independence, than a stint as writer-in-residence upon an icebreaker? Natural history writer, memoirist, and perennial favourite Horatio Clare follows up his fantastic ‘Down to the Sea in Ships’ with another ocean-bound adventure, around an extraordinary country and through the unearthly frozen Bay of Bothnia, discovering Finland’s character, her mariners and her skirts of ice along the way.
‘We are celebrating a hundred years since independence this year: how would you like to travel on a government icebreaker?’
A message from the Finnish embassy launches Horatio Clare on a voyage around an extraordinary country and an unearthly place, the frozen Bay of Bothnia, just short of the Arctic circle. Travelling with the crew of Icebreaker Otso, Horatio, whose last adventure saw him embedded on Maersk container vessels for the bestseller Down to the Sea in Ships, discovers stories of Finland, of her mariners and of ice.
Finland is an enigmatic place, famous for its educational miracle, healthcare and gender equality – as well as Nokia, Angry Birds, saunas, questionable cuisine and deep taciturnity. Aboard Otso Horatio gets to know the men who make up her crew, and explores Finland’s history and character. Surrounded by the extraordinary colours and conditions of a frozen sea, he also comes to understand something of the complexity and fragile beauty of ice, a near-miraculous substance which cools the planet, gives the stars their twinkle and which may hold all our futures in its crystals.
“A hilarious, off-beat travelogue in the tradition of Eric Newby and Redmond O’Hanlon. Warm and witty, Clare catches an important moment in the unfolding of climate change, and shows why we should all pay attention to what’s happening in the ice” — Gavin Francis
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