To the River: A Journey Beneath the Surface (Canons #71) (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

This is a wonderful book about place, and how it’s history can shape it, as well as us. Laing follows the history of the River Ouse as it meanders through the county of Sussex, and the people that witnessed it. We spend a lot of time with Virginia Woolf and how she was drawn to the river in life, and also, how she used it in her death. But the historical figures, and authors specifically, that Laing references are many, and I loved dipping into the aspects of their lives through the river. A beautifully lyrical ode to one of the natural features of the earth that we live our lives parallel too, and a reminder of how much they influence us.

Becky Doherty


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.

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. 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.

Product Details
ISBN: 9781786891587
ISBN-10: 1786891581
Publisher: Canongate Books
Publication Date: October 5th, 2017
Pages: 304
Language: English
Series: Canons