To the River

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What to expect

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.

Critics Review

  • “Olivia Laing joins the best nature writers…Laing is a brilliant wordsmith and this is a beautifully accomplished book.”

    Independent (London)
  • “A beautifully written meditation on landscape.”

    Sunday Times (London)
  • “By turns lyrical, melancholic and exultant, To the River just makes you want to follow Olivia Laing all the way to the sea.”

    Daily Telegraph (London)
  • “Laing’s language is supple and saturated, bright and dappled in this gracefully meandering river of words and deeply pleasurable journey across Woolf’s tidal world and the many-storied English countryside.”

  • “Listeners will enjoy hearing Kate Reading’s crisply pleasant voice as they imagine themselves in author Olivia Laing’s shoes as she walks the length of the Ouse River in Sussex, England…The comfortable pacing of Reading’s narration reflects the tone of Laing’s musings on the river’s power and presence across the centuries…The solitude of this meditative journey is occasionally interrupted by locals, whose accents and vibrancy are deftly portrayed by Reading.”


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