To The River

To The River Ebook

AUTHOR: Olivia Laing
PUBLISHED: 5th May 2011
ISBN: 9780857860651

Regular Price: £9.99

Special Price: £7.99

To the River is the story of the Ouse, the Sussex river in which Virginia Woolf drowned in 1941. One midsummer week over sixty years later, Olivia Laing walked Woolf's river from source to sea. The result is a passionate investigation into how history resides in a landscape - and how ghosts never quite leave the places they love.

Along the way, Laing explores the roles rivers play in human lives, tracing their intricate flow through literature and mythology alike. To the River excavates all sorts of stories from the Ouse's marshy banks, from the brutal Barons' War of the thirteenth century to the 'Dinosaur Hunters', the nineteenth-century amateur naturalists who first cracked the fossil code. Central among these ghosts is, of course, Virginia Woolf herself: her life, her writing and her watery death.

Woolf is the most constant companion on Laing's journey, and To the River can be read in part as a biography of this extraordinary English writer, refracted back through the river she loved. But other writers float through these pages too - among them Iris Murdoch, Shakespeare, Homer and Kenneth Grahame, author of the riverside classic The Wind in the Willows.

The result is a wonderfully discursive read - which interweaves biography, history, nature writing and memoir, driven by Laing's deep understanding of science and cultural history. It's a beautiful, lyrical work that marks the arrival of a major new writer.
'A gentle, wise and riddling book. Its prose, like the river it describes, flows intricately, unpredictably and often beautifully, carrying the fascinated reader onwards', ROBERT MACFARLANE
'Without wanting to sound gushing, her writing at its sublime best reminds me of Richard Mabey's nature prose and the poetry of Alice Oswald. Like these two, and John Clare before them, Laing seems to lack a layer of skin, rendering her susceptible to the smallest vibrations of the natural world as well as to the frailties of the human psyche.', Jane Wheatley, The Times
'A magical book . . . her dreamy prose evokes a modern Alice, an hallucinatory tale told with one hand trailing in cool green water, while she wishes out folklore and science, history and biography . . . By turns lyrical, melancholic and exultant, <I>To the River</I> just makes you want to follow Olivia Laing all the way to the sea.', Philip Hoare, Sunday Telegraph
'A brave, distinctive, and deeply intelligent addition to that protean genre mixing nature, history and travel writing which is becoming one of the richest forms of contemporary British literature... There are passages of masterfully timed lyricism', ALEXANDRA HARRIS, Literary Review
'Olivia Laing is a new and thoughtful voice in the tradition of W.G. Sebald. I confidently expect it to be listed in this year's favourite books', Joan Bakewell, Daily Telegraph

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