I don’t usually do this. Start off loving a book so much and then throwing it all in with the towel. Yes, sadly I am referring to To The River by Olivia Laing. The beginning held such high hopes for me. I loved it. Here are a couple of examples of her writing:
“There is a mystery about rivers that draws us to them, for they rise from hidden places and travel by routes that are not always tomorrow where they might be today.
Unlike a lake or sea, a river has a destination and there is something about the certainty with which it travels that makes it very soothing, particularly for those who’ve lost faith with where they’re headed.”
“I’d barely seen the Ouse all morning and now I could hear water running low under the nettles, a tributary trickling to the valley beneath. A couple of wood pigeons were entreating one another to take two cows, Susan, take two cows, Susan. Behind or above them I could hear a train passing, calling with its horn as it reached the massive viaduct that vaulted the river. The wind was sifting the leaves and the passing sun cast strong cloud shadows across the countless grasses. There was only one more field ahead, and then the path would meet the water.”
The author is getting over a broken relationship. She decides to spend a week walking the Ouse River. The river that Virginia Woolf died in. She booked her pub rooms for the week and began her hike following the river banks wherever she could. The beginning of the book was about nature and how rivers affect natural settings.
She then goes on quite a few tangents most of which I enjoyed. She talked of geology and the geology of the area but not so much one gets a bit sleepy eyed. She had really interesting tales of Virginia Woolf and Iris Murdoch and her husband. She discusses her writing and her dementia later in life. I felt interest and compassion. She talked a lot about Kenneth Graham and The Wind in the Willows. He was such a disappointed man and things just never worked out for him but he wrote a beautiful book. She talked of the sequels written later by William Horwood. (I have the first copy hardback of everything William Horwood has ever written. I recently got an email from his page telling me the Duncan books are all to be brought in eBook format this coming year. I know, trivia.)
Just when I’m thinking this is one of the most interesting and beautifully written book she goes off on a tangent about the Battle Of Lewes. Everything she had written to this point I feel would be of interest to worldwide travelogue buffs and readers. Maybe not the geology but that is short. Then she begins this obscure English history of smaller areas. The world would probably not be familiar with this. Who the players were, what it meant and on it went. I did feel too that it just would not quit. No more nature, no more books or authors based on rivers, just a sudden change. Yes, she was walking through the area so it is probably relevant but there was just too much. (or so I thought.)
The description and experiences in the pubs stopped. Although to be fair I just couldn’t take another page. Maybe I didn’t read the whole book quickly enough. Maybe next to the story of Kenneth Graham the battle of Lewes just bored me silly. Maybe it is because it is due at the library this week and I can’t renew it because there is a hold on it. Maybe, if, maybe.
I had enough. My mood changed? Maybe my underwear was too tight and I couldn’t get comfortable in my chair. Who is to say. It was just one of those things.
I would definitely read something else by this author of the beautiful passages. But I don’t want to read anymore obscure English history. Maybe it isn’t obscure to the British population. I had heard of the battle of Lewes but didn’t need any further information on it.
Anyway, the rest of the week went well. I have a 1200 km motorbike weekend over three days coming up so I have been out riding quite a bit this week getting ready for it. Our motorbike group will be riding to the northwest of the state. I have booked myself into a single, small cabin as I know I will be extremely tired after riding the 480 kms there on very twisty hilly roads. No freeways or motorways here. Then the second day we will be 350 kms through the Tarkine wilderness forest area. The most beautiful part of our state that everyone fights the government tooth and nail to not log it. Pristine wilderness. It has been listed as World Heritage in recently years and when the previous Prime Minister tried to have that status overturned to log it the World Heritage committee said “Absolutely not!” as it meets all five criteria for listing.
You only need one or two criteria to get it in the first place. So I am hoping I’ll be able to see it. Then Monday (Regatta Day holiday in the south of the state) is the 480 kms ride home.
I will take some photos and try to get them up for next week’s Tuesday Trivia but here is a photo I found online as a teaser.
Enjoy the rest of the week. Drop a line and tell me what you’re reading, what you’re doing when you’re not reading and generally what’s happening in your neck of the woods.