This reveals far more prejudice than I thought I possessed. My book has been published in the UK and the USA. It is the same apart from the cover and the title. In the UK it is ‘A Prickly Affair – my life with hedgehogs’, and in the USA it is, ‘The Hedgehog’s Dilemma – A Tale of Obsession, Nostalgia, and the World’s Most Charming Mammal’.

So what is in a title? I thought that reviewers would simply read and review the book.

Oh how naive!

In the UK, with our resident hedgehogs and culture of fondness, everyone has a hedgehog story – and some reviewers did not feel the need to read the book at all before writing, usually favourable, reviews. For instance the Times – an august journal of record – managed to publish a review that in the opening line proved the reviewer had not read the first paragraph of the first chapter. My opening paragraph puts the hedgehog in its place, taxonomically speaking – clearly stating that it is not a rodent. The Times review? “What is it with hedgehogs? They’re rodents.”

Other reviews have gone out of their way to conflate stories, creating a bit of a nonsense (though that may have more to do with the editors than the writers), mixing up two very different hedgehog events on different Scottish islands.

I can’t really complain, some of the reviews have been really wonderful – in fact it has given me a real buzz to read so many nice things about the book over which I slaved for quite some time. My favourite line is from a note up on Amazon “This is an utterly charming book, it is funny and gently serious…” I like that – gently serious – I had not thought the phrase, but it perfectly describes what I was aiming for.

So, here is my prejudice laid bare – I thought that if my book was reviewed in the US, it would be reviewed superficially – that the lunacy of hedgehog-love would be the focus and that it would hardly register. But how wrong I was. The first inkling was when Publishers Weekly wrote:

“Warwick provides wonderful insight into what the philosopher Schopenhauer called the Hedgehog’s Dilemma—how can two of the spiky animals be close to each other without causing pain? Warwick describes how they overcome obvious obstacles to reproduction and skillfully extends the idea to explore the current state of human-animal interaction: The dilemma we face is trying to get close enough to the wild without corrupting it out of existence. Warwick shows how the hedgehog offers a unique insight into how humans can protect nature, since it is the first and probably only wild animal that we urbanites and suburbanites have a chance of getting close to.”

And then the LA Times said:

“Warwick is delightfully nerdy: “Love did not blossom immediately,” he writes of his fascination. “I suppose in the beginning we had more of a friendship and a working relationship. But I want to jump forward to the juicy bits.”

These involve, as you can imagine, an unusual definition of the term “juicy bits,””

and then:

There’s more than a whiff of the legendary naturalist Gerald Durrell here — his humor, his affection and his never-ending curiosity. “We are most willing to change ourselves in the grip of true love,” Warwick writes. “True love, not the sort that tends to infect our appreciation of the natural world. . . . Sentimental love is superficial; it does not offer much.”

“Hedgehogs in love, Warwick simplifies to make a point, can’t get close to each other without hurting each other, so they back away. In a similar fashion, we humans can’t get close to the natural world without harming it: “The dilemma we face is in trying to get close enough to the wild without corrupting it out of existence.””

And I have developed a massive respect for the US reviewers – for nothing more than taking the trouble to read the book carefully, and to see beyond the whimsy and fun – right through to the heart of the matter – which is the hedgehog’s dilemma of the title … something that reviewers of A Prickly Affair have failed to even notice …

Let’s hope for more reviews to challenge this analysis.

In York – therefore it must be Thursday … this has been chaos, but it all calms down by the end of tomorrow – and then all I have to do is hope that people go and buy my book. That feels strange – there is little more I can do, other than go from bookshop to bookshop, signing every copy and (if that offer is rejected, rearranging the shelves ensuring that my book sits in front of potential opposition from Bill Oddie and others …. is that ethical? I get the feeling that most authors do it to a certain extent!)

So – my theory of this book world – it is remarkably like surfing (stick with this, it works…) Now I love surfing (not very good though) – so, I am lying on my board (legs too short to do the sitting thing) and I see a wave coming. Now, I can just lie there and let the wave bob me up and down … or I can try and catch the wave – and to do that I start to paddle – manically – and if I am lucky, I will catch the wave and get the ride of my life … and I am now paddling, hoping to catch the wave of sales and … well, if it does, it will be the ride of my life … so here is hoping I have the strength and stamina to get up …

So Chepstow bookshop organised an event for me last night – a great little indy and over 100 people turned up to hear me meander around the subject of hedgehogs – my first book-signing event – me and a little table and a queue of people. I felt really rather happy … but then found out that the week before they had had Alan Titchmarsh speaking there and had over 200 people – bahh.

And tonight Blackwells in Oxford – then home, pack bag and get a coach at 3am to get me to the Eurostar for a 0553 … what was I thinking when I booked that ticket? There is quite possibly a portion of me that is a self-flagelist … no other explanation. 

I think that there is going to come a point in the near future when I just collapse … hope I can last until xmas – at least there will then be another adult about to assist … but for now all I crave is sleep – and will have to make do with an espresso …

at least some of the most heavenly music is percolating through my soul – ein Deutsches Requiem – the sublime Berlin Phil.


Just occasionally I feel a small amount of sympathy for politicians – the first time was when I did ten local radio interviews back to back from the BBC Oxford studio … there were only going to be nine and just as I was about to take the ten minute break another station snatched me up … can’t complain really, all great publicity. And this morning – well, I managed to get two children breakfasted, pack lunch made and dishwasher emptied and loaded, as well as do two interviews, all before 0830! Then BBC Oxford for an entertaining session with Jo Thoenes – and after the quickest cycle back yet, I will have to head back up to the BBC for a TV interview in a few minutes … 

Oh – and the Telegraph –

My favourite bit has to be “Meet 42-year-old Hugh Warwick, an otherwise normal father-of-two” … what makes them think I am ‘otherwise normal’!!

More soon – will post a review from the LA times when I get a chance.


This was slightly confusing:

claiming, as it does, to be written by someone I have never met. Fortunately the journalist I met, Chris, phoned to explain that the paper did not want it to appear that they had only one contributer – so turned him into Wendy. Still not sure how to take the line:

‘Hugh Warwick, an otherwise normal father of two…’

I will post some of the reviews and comments soon … just to show that some people have been busy reading.

oh – and this was my first post … rather pleased with getting on with it – and while I might not manage the prolific heights of Stephen Fry

how does he do that? Though I am guessing the lack of two small children probably helps!