“A river passing through a landscape catches the world and gives it back redoubled: a shifting, glinting world more mysterious than the one we customarily inhabit. Rivers run through our civilisations like strings through beads”
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
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”
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“A gentle, wise and riddling book”
“Magical … By turns lyrical, melancholic and exultant, To the River just makes you want to follow Olivia Laing all the way to the sea”
“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”
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. To the River was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize and the Dolman Travel Book of the Year. Her second book, The Trip to Echo Spring was shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Biography Award and the 2014 Gordon Burn Prize, and The Lonely City has been shortlisted for the 2016 Gordon Burn Prize. She lives in Cambridge.