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Journeying North in the Company of Whales - the award-winning memoir
  • Author
    • Doreen Cunningham
Regular price £10.99
Regular price Sale price £10.99
'Beautiful . . . Justifies its place alongside nature writing classics such as H is for Hawk' NEW STATESMAN

'Wonderful ... both frank and fearless' TELEGRAPH BEST TRAVEL BOOKS OF THE YEAR


From Mexico to the Arctic ice, grey whale mothers swim with their calves. Following them, by bus, train and ferry, are Doreen and her toddler Max, in pursuit of a wild hope. Doreen first visited Alaska as a young journalist reporting on climate change among indigenous whaling communities. There, drawn deeply into an Iñupiaq family, she joined the bowhead whale hunt, watching for polar bears under the never-ending light. Years later, now a single mother living in a hostel, Doreen embarks on this extraordinary journey: following the grey whale migration back to the Arctic, where greys and bowheads meet at the melting apex of our planet.

'Soundings got under my skin. I finished it in tears' AMY LIPTROT

'What a voice! What a book!' CHARLES FOSTER

'Soulful, honest, insightful, humane and propulsive' JINI REDDY

'Thrilling, passionate and tender-hearted' HELEN JUKES



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  • Published: Feb 02 2023
  • 196 x 126mm
  • ISBN: 9780349014937
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Press Reviews

  • Damian le Bas, author of The Stopping Places
    This stunning book blends nature writing of the most urgent kind with precise and poetic observation of human tribulation and the interconnectedness of all things. Fresh, brave and unique
  • Ramita Navai, author of City of Lies
    Soundings stuns with its bravery and lyricism. This is a book to be devoured.
  • Erica Wagner
    Cunningham's scientific knowledge and gorgeous prose take us on an extraordinary journey as she forges a remarkable connection with these astonishing creatures and issues an impassioned plea for our shared futures. Soundings is a completely unique, unforgettable book.
  • Helen Jukes, author of A Honeybee Heart has Five Openings
    Doreen's is a thrilling, passionate and tenderhearted adventure. I read this book in one sitting, and couldn't sleep that night - my mind was still filled with her extraordinary endurance, her wild spirit.
  • Neil Ansell, author of Deep Country and The Circling Sky
    Beautiful and brave, and startling in its raw emotional honesty.
  • Charles Foster, author of Being a Human
    What a voice! What a book! Pounding with the power of thrashing flukes, shivering with Arctic ice, yet suffused with rare human warmth. A book worthy of its mighty subjects.
  • Mark Boyle, author of The Way Home
    An intimate and fascinating story of one woman's journey with our most charismatic species
  • Daniel Lavelle, author of Down and Out
    Beautifully written, insightful and gripping
  • Sjón, author of The Whispering Muse
    In this fascinating book, Doreen Cunningham takes us on an intimate journey through a world already changed by climate change. As her own travel companions become ours - the indigenous people of Utqiagvik, the whales of the Pacific, the world's scientists and her little son Max - we learn that it is only by coming together as people and species that we will be able to navigate our way ahead in the vast troubled waters of our shared future.
  • Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief
    This book is a gorgeous journey. Cunningham guides us elegantly from Mexico to Alaska, riding along with wild grey whales. And she excels as well at bringing the reader along on her personal journey of motherhood, struggle, and epiphany. You will be glad you've joined her.
  • Robert Moor, bestselling author of On Trails: An Exploration
    A raw and rapturous work of nature writing. Or is it memoir? Adventure journalism? Pop science? Climate cri de coeur? This foul-mouthed, gimlet-eyed, big-hearted chimera of a book is all of those - and more
  • Edward Posnett

    A striking, brave and often lyrical book that defies easy interpretation . . . Her sensuous descriptions of grey whales and humpbacks provide some of the book's richest passages . . . She is no Ahab; it is not a single whale to which she is drawn, but the collective, and in the end the whales act as stepping-stones, bridges to human relationships on her journey, notably with other women and mothers. What at first seems a reckless, near-mystical pursuit of an imagined being leads her to find a human pod of her own.
  • India Bourke

    New Statesman
    Beautiful . . . Through such delicate merging of environmental and individual trauma, Soundings births a raw, intimate narrative about nature's capacity to mend - and justifies its place alongside modern nature writing classics, such as Helen Macdonald's H is for Hawk
  • Jini Reddy

    An original, unexpectedly pacey blend of memoir and nature writing. Whether observing how the ceteceans are threatened by global warming, delving into the lives of the Inupiaq or sharing personal struggles, Cunningham brings a sensitivity to the page. This is a moving riposte to those who offer atomised perspectives on the natural world
  • New Statesman, best books of 2022
    A beautiful account of trauma, community and nature's capacity to heal, this book takes its place alongside modern classics of the genre such as Helen Macdonald's H is for Hawk.
  • Amy Liptrot, author of The Outrun and The Instant
    Soundings got under my skin. It was as if I'd joined Doreen and her young son on their search for grey whales, and we'd been through something important together. I finished it in tears
  • Sarah Thomas, author of The Raven's Nest
    What a woman and what a tale! It is a rare gift to be taken on a journey by a single mother with her child and the particular perspective that offers. This is a story about living and loving at the sharp end of climate change, and learning to listen, and wait. I loved this book. Sensitive, sincere, and heart-warming.
  • San Francisco Chronicle
    Captures rarely observed natural places ... The reader understands that reporting on climate disaster, and Cunningham's own troubles, have sent the journalist into uncomfortable turbulence. She finds an easier groove, and readers are richer for it, in the enduring beauty and resilient wonder of the ocean
  • Kirkus
    Cunningham is consistently forthcoming and self-aware, and she delivers an informed perspective on climate change and ecological damage ... A gorgeous, heartfelt coda brings the narrative to a close, and we can't deny our own sympathies. An absorbing account that offers urgent warnings for humankind
  • Rosita Kaaháni Worl, Ph.D., President of the Sealaska Heritage Institute

    Through her journey from Mexico to Alaska, Doreen Cunningham develops what can only be described as a spiritual relationship with the gray whales. Readers will be further enriched by her ability to seamlessly integrate traditional Indigenous knowledge and science of the sea, ice, and the world of the Iñupiat who hunt the mammoth baleen whales
  • Bathsheba Demuth, author of Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait

    Soundings is a story of whales and people, of kinship and questing, and perhaps most of all of the connections among our human selves and across species. With a lyrical voice and tremendous emotional honesty, Doreen Cunningham defies genre and skips easy romance to bring us a cetacean journey-and a journey into the tough, transformative stuff of making community in this beautiful, harsh and changeable world
  • Dr. Edith Widder, CEO & Senior Scientist of the Ocean Research & Conservation Association

    A spellbinding journey of discovery told with deep sensitivity and honesty
  • Emily Porter

    Porchlight Books
    I must say I was in awe of this book. Such a captivating, raw and special offering to the world. A lovely memoir that ranges in exploration but keeps the constant tone of gratitude and discovery on this journey we call life
  • Colleen Mondor

    Booklist Online
    With a light touch and artful prose, Cunningham's primary message of compassion comes through, a perspective readers are sure to respond to
  • Philip Hoare, author of Leviathan, or the Whale
    A beautiful book: a woman's search for meaning deep in the world of the whale
  • Sarah Thomas

    Guardian, Top 10 Nature Memoirs
    The endless wait of the whale hunt is made fascinating by her quiet observations. The protagonists make a deeply refreshing triad: a single mother travelling with her child, learning from the whales how to parent
  • Ch?k?d?l? Emel?mad?

    Doreen Cunningham captures the scope of the world, the grandeur of whales and the direct relationship between the two. We see our fragility, how short life truly is for the human animal and yet the degree of change wrought on the planet by our actions. Experiencing all this through her eyes has been a thrill: a brave, frightening wondrous ride from a woman who not only dares question but pushes back against systems that tell her no
  • Daily Telegraph
    A wonderful debut . . . both frank and fearless, and a plea for the whales to be allowed to live, and die, in peace
  • Irish Times
    Compelling ... A human story of resilience, loss and immense bravery ... A rallying cry for love