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The Soul of an Octopus - Book Review

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by Jenny Esots (subscribe)
A freelance writer and traveller who likes to explore the spiritual, literary and hidden gems of Adelaide and beyond.
Published November 10th 2015
Communing with Octopuses
There is a new book out that explores the inner life of an octopus; one of the most intelligent invertebrates. It is not so much an account of the mind of an octopus as a memoir of the author, Sy Montgomery and her quest to find out more about them.

The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery
The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery


We are introduced to various octopuses - Athena, Octavia, Kali and Karma and other creatures of the sea like Myrtle the Turtle. They reside in an aquarium in New England, USA. This account takes us through the interactions, dramas and life cycles of the octopus; how they react to people and other life forms; Do they have a mind, emotions and a soul?

The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery
The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery


Sy meets many people at the aquarium who become part of her life. The author is able to mesh day-to-day conversations, experiences and encounters with facts about octopuses. We learn as she learns. The book also has a series of images of octopuses.

Octopuses have a brain the size of a walnut and three hearts and of course, eight tentacles. They have two eyes, but one is dominant. They are terrific escape artists, get bored sometimes and are very sensitive to chemicals. They also become senile as they age which is distressing for those looking after them. They become ghost like and no longer react to people.

The author Sy Montgomery having an octopus encounter
The author Sy Montgomery having an octopus encounter


Sy undertakes scuba lessons in her effort to get a closer encounter with octopuses in the wild, which is something that does not come easily to her. This underwater world and life of these creatures is explored. Do they relate to the humans around them? They do appear to and the death of each octopus becomes like losing a friend.

This is an engaging account of communing with octopuses. It is done through a good writer's eyes. However I am not sure I am keen for my own octopus encounter anytime soon.
Published by Simon & Schuster
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Why? The Soul of an Octopus
When: Published by Simon & Schuster
Where: Available in all good book stores and online
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