To the River

A Journey Beneath the Surface

Olivia Laing

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
To the River by Olivia Laing (Paperback ISBN 9781786891587) book cover

Available as Paperback, eBook

An odyssey along the banks of the River Ouse, from source to sea, by the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Lonely City and Crudo

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

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“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”

Olivia Laing

Olivia Laing is the author of four acclaimed works of non-fiction, To the River (2011), The Trip to Echo Spring (2013), The Lonely City (2016) and Everybody (2021). Her first novel, Crudo, was a Sunday Times top ten bestseller and won the 2019 James Tait Memorial Prize. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and in 2018 was awarded a Windham-Campbell Prize for non-fiction. Her work has been translated into 19 languages.

Laing writes on art and culture for many publications, including the Guardian, Financial Times and New York Times. Her collected writing on art, Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency, was published in 2020. She lives in Suffolk.

Instagram: @olivialanguage |