Over sixty years after Virginia Woolf drowned in the River Ouse, Olivia Laing set out one midsummer morning to walk its banks, from source to sea. Along the way, she explores the roles that rivers play in human lives, tracing their intricate flow through literature, mythology and folklore.
Lyrical and stirring, To the River is a passionate investigation into how history resides in a landscape - and how ghosts never quite leave the places they love.
A beautifully written, elegant and subtle debut ― Financial Times
A gentle, wise and riddling book -- ROBERT MACFARLANE
Magical . . . By turns lyrical, melancholic and exultant, To the River just makes you want to follow Olivia Laing all the way to the sea -- PHILIP HOARE ― Daily Telegraph
A beautifully written meditation on landscape ― The Sunday Times
Wonderfully allusive . . . The book's subject and structure fuse pleasingly, weaving and meandering, pooling into biographical, mythical or historical backwaters ― Observer
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 . . . 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 ― The Times
Has a Sebaldian edge to it that lifts it out of memoir and biography and into something far more tantalizing and suggestive ― Guardian
This hugely accomplished first book draws on local lore and history, a vast range of research and some soaring lyrical writing ― Sunday Times
Olivia Laing joins the best nature writers . . . Laing is a brilliant wordsmith and this is a beautifully accomplished book ― Independent
Brave, distinctive, and deeply intelligent . . . The book has an intense, humming, cumulative effect ― Literary Review
An odyssey along the banks of the River Ouse, from source to sea; a profound and haunting reflection on history and landscape by one of the most important writers of modern non-fiction
About the Author
Olivia Laing is a widely acclaimed writer and critic. Her work appears in numerous publications, including the Guardian, Observer, New Statesman, Frieze and New York Times. She's a Yaddo and MacDowell Fellow and was 2014 Eccles Writer in Residence at the British Library. Her first book, To the River, was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize and the Dolman Travel Book of the Year. The Trip to Echo Spring was shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Biography Award and the 2014 Gordon Burn Prize. The Lonely City has been shortlisted for the 2016 Gordon Burn Prize. She lives in Cambridge.
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