‘Going The Extra Mile’ review: Peter Ransome’s remarkable, surprising and surreal re-issue of a haunting novel

Rainbow bears swimming in a wetland in the heart of the Amazon. Chimps playing in mountainsides. Hippos, pygmy hippos, crayfish, spotted salamanders and more all making their homes among the ever-changing tropical foliage of…

'Going The Extra Mile' review: Peter Ransome's remarkable, surprising and surreal re-issue of a haunting novel

Rainbow bears swimming in a wetland in the heart of the Amazon. Chimps playing in mountainsides. Hippos, pygmy hippos, crayfish, spotted salamanders and more all making their homes among the ever-changing tropical foliage of the jungle.

These extraordinary scenes are among the incredible sights that are a part of the recent naturalist explorer Peter Ransome’s epic book, Going The Extra Mile, released earlier this year.

Written after the author traveled the Amazon through countries including Peru, Brazil, Guyana and Belize, the book was dedicated to his daughter Polly, who died at the age of 25, aged about five. Polly died from a rare, inoperable brain tumor.

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Ransome died of natural causes in 2002 at the age of 84, and two years after his death, Pixie, his daughter, married Johnny Ransome, an Australian author who was one of their godfathers.

Since his daughter’s death, their works have been embraced by a new generation and shared with their family and friends.

“It was a time in my life that I regret I hadn’t given more consideration,” Johnny says. “I wasn’t sure how Polly had felt about my involvement.”

Now, Ransome is back on the road again, working with his daughter’s godfather, and his new wife’s, close friend, Jonathan Cogan, who has been working for Penguin Random House on the worldwide re-release of Going The Extra Mile. This book is very different to the celebrated 1928 novel about a chance meeting between a geologist on his way to the Amazon on a scientific expedition and a teenager who attends the school for the blind. This book is much more surprising, imaginative and richly textured.

The new book is not only an expansion of Ransome’s trip, but also a meditation on the relationship between man and nature in the age of climate change and technological change. The story is enriched with surreal and remarkable observations about forests, gorges, rivers, islands and sky.

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