Mudlarking by Lara Maiklem

Mudlarking by Lara Maiklem – Lost and Found on the River Thames. I was very eager to read the book, and, sadly, it wasn’t as interesting as I hoped it would be. I gave the book 3 stars, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Despite its name it is not as much as what she found and more about her, there are too many autobiographical aspects. I didn’t borrow the book to read a memoir, so that was very disappointing. She makes some rather perplexing comments, like: “when I find a modern penny, I give it back to the river for luck and as a payment for its treasures” (page 153). Oh dear…

On top of that, there are no pictures! Why she didn’t include pictures of her finds is beyond me. There are descriptions, but pictures would have been so much better. This is the main reason why I don’t recommend the book: the lack of pictures.

Mudlarking by Lara Maiklem

The reason mudlarking is possible, is because Thames is tidal. I liked reading about the finds, the technical aspects of mudlarking, and, of course, the legal requirements. I also liked that she didn’t make assumptions on how something ended up in the river, but offered a couple of possible scenarios instead. The writing style is journalistic, a bit too sensationalistic, too flowery.

Some of the items found by her were fascinating and unexpected. I was surprised by how modern some of the findings were.

Mudlarking by Lara Maiklem

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 3/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: no
Published by: Bloomsbury
Year it was published: 2019
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): Memoir
Pages: 320

About the author: Lara Maiklem is a British editor who has been mudlarking for more than a decade. Featured in the Guardian and by the BBC for her work as the “London Mudlark,” she lives on the Kent coast,close to the Thames Estuary, and visits the river as regularly as the tides permit.
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6 thoughts on “Mudlarking by Lara Maiklem”

  • I haven’t really studied any of the ‘collecting’ hobbies – mudlarking, beachcombing or metal detecting – not something which really interests me. We did however go down to Lyme Regis beach in Dorset, at the crack of dawn one morning a few years ago and just as the tide turned to go out, we watched all the fossil hunters appear with their mini shovels and pick axes to scour the rocks! I can’t see that this book would be very interesting with photographs to help explain the experience! Better luck with your next book 🙂

    • I would love to try fossil hunting, but just as an experience, not to make a hobby out of it. I imagine the excitement of the unknown makes it a very interesting hobby.

  • The lack of pictures in a non-fiction book of this kind is pretty much unforgiveable. I didn’t know about Thames mudlarking till quite recently, when it turned up in a contemporary crime novel, The Cutting Place by Jane Casey. Sounds like I had more fun with that one than you did with this! 😉

    • I think you are right. I’m curious how mudlarking featured in that book, so I might look for it at the library.

  • This is such a fascinating topic, so what a shame it didn’t turn out to be what you were hoping for. I’m surprised that there are no photos. The author clearly missed an opportunity there. (or maybe not if she was making it more into a memoir than a factual account)
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    • It’s a strange book, a sort of memoir, but with technical details on conservation and mudlarking, and a bit of history on top. It’s too much without pictures, so pretty strange overall.

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