A recent reading treat was Olivia Laing’s To The River (thank you to Catherine for lending it to me), a beautifully written book which is part meditation, part travel, and part history book. Olivia Laing sets out to walk the length of the River Ouse (pronounced ‘Ooze’) in Sussex, from source to sea. She discusses the importance of rivers and the roles they play in our lives, she investigates how history is there in every bit of the English landscape, and she talks about the changes the years have brought. Laing is especially interested in Virginia Woolf, who drowned herself in the Ouse, which was near her Sussex home of Monk’s House, and the book has many quotes from Woolf’s diaries and letters, and anecdotes about Virginia and Leonard.
I just LOVED this book! And I’m not the only one, as it was shortlisted for various literary awards. The prose was lyrical, and flowed like the river, it was packed with fascinating information, and I especially enjoyed all the literary references. Laing has also written a book called The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking which I have ordered and look forward to reading.
We are not able to travel to England in this time of Covid, so reading a book about walking through glorious English countryside and through its history, is the next best thing to actually being there.