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The River [Paperback]

Tricia Wastvedt
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 May 2005
In 1958, in a small Devon village, two children, playing in a boat on the river, are drowned. Their parents are distraught but remain in the village, living together yet estranged, for the next thirty years. Over time their tragedy becomes part of the invisible fabric of village life until, one summer's day, Anna arrives. She comes to the village to escape her own disappointments. She does not tell anyone that she is pregnant. Anna goes to live with Isabel, and for a time the women find solace in each other's company. But the baby's arrival opens old wounds leading, inexorably, to tragedy...

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (5 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014101685X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141016856
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 853,017 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Full of brooding sadness, right up to the unexpected horror of the ending' -- The Times

'Impressively understated, lyrical, deftly written' -- TLS

'Intense and lyrical. A narrative of escalating suspense' -- Guardian

'Moving and impressive, strongly atmospheric. A remarkable achievement' -- Penelope Lively

About the Author

Tricia Wastvedt was born in London in 1954 and lives in Bath. This is her first novel.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Water seeped through the boards and slipped from side to side, folding and breaking in tiny waves. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant and Beautifully Written 24 Nov 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It is 1958 and we are in Devon in a small village situated by a river; in a sinking boat on the river two children struggle to keep their heads above the water. Their parents, Robert and Isabel MacKinnon, are at home in their riverside property, unaware of the tragedy happening to their much-loved children. When the two children are found drowned, Robert and Isabel blame themselves and each other and find they are no longer able to live together as man and wife. However, bound together as they are in remorse and anger, they cannot entirely let go of each other and, understandably, neither of them can find it possible to really move forward from the tragic event. As time passes, it becomes clear that this terrible tragedy has not just affected Isabel and Robert, but has become woven into the lives of many of the inhabitants of the village. (No spoilers, we learn all of this in the first few pages of the book).

Some time later, Anna, a young, pregnant woman comes to the village looking for a retreat from London and an escape from an unsatisfactory love affair. As a temporary measure until she can find a house of her own, Anna moves into Isabel's home and, initially, the two women become close. However, once Anna's baby is born, the dynamics between Isabel and Anna alter considerably and, as Anna begins to uncover incidents from Isabel's past, she starts to feel very uneasy and unsettled. When Anna becomes attracted to Josef, the ruggedly handsome owner of the local inn, who was involved in the tragic drowning, a series of events follow which leaves Anna in a very precarious position.
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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Wracked with grief and guilt, Robert and Isabel McKinnon blame themselves and each other for the death of their two young children Catherine and Jack in a boating accident. The catastrophe happened in the summer of 1958 while the children were playing in a leaky boat on a river that passes through the tranquil English village of Cameldip in the sleepy heart of Devon.
For thirty years the tragedy has rippled outwards like pools in the river, gradually becoming part of the essential fabric of the town. Robert and Isabel continue to live next to each other maintaining an uneasy alliance fraught with sorrow, recrimination, and heartache. "He was responsible, his stupidity his neglect. Not only him - I was equally to blame." Neither have had the courage to let go and perhaps move on from the town and the river where misfortune irrevocably changed their lives.
In 1987, Anna, a young, free-spirited girl wants to leave London so she sticks a pin into the map of Devon and hits upon Cameldip. Seeking refuge for herself and her unborn baby, she arrives and immediately falls in love with the idyllic little township. But in doing so doing she unwittingly seals her fate as she enters the muddy waters of the lives of those who live there.
Taking up Isabel's offer for a place to stay, Anna sleeps in a tree house by Isabel's cottage, a tree house that was originally built by Robert when he first came to the village. As Anna begins to relax into a comfortable and contented life, she phones her boyfriend - who does not know that he is soon to a father - asking if he will drive down from London to stay.
After the child is born, Isabel gradually begins to take them Anna and baby Mathew under her wing.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Completely unbelievable and unengaging 3 Sep 2008
By Alison
I can't believe how differently I viewed this book to the other reviewers. I found the plot and the characters unbelievable, the ending completely unsatisfying and the setting also completely unrealistic. I gave it two stars as I did finish it and found it quite an easy read but there were so many "but why...."s and "but surely no-one would...." that any enjoyment was frustrated.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling 1 Oct 2005
By Clarey
With all due respect to my fellow/reader reviewers, I urge anyone thinking of buying this book on the strength of its various book prize nominations, NOT to read the very detailed review which appears on this page. You need to come to this story utterly unknowing and utterly unaware of the various layers of this incredible story and its many and varied characters and their relationships and, in particular, how they all connect. Uncovering this as the story unfolds is an INTRINSIC part of this book's unbelievable ability to draw you in till you just can't put it down.
Suffice it to say, this book is a brilliant first novel and I absolutely "lived it" as I read it.
The story revolves around the drowning of 2 young children in a small riverside village, some 30 years earlier and the impact this has on the lives of their parents and friends and, indeed the entire village, the shockwaves spreading outwards like a those of a pebble cast into the water.Its portrayal of English rural life is faultless, and Wastvedt's ability to capture the almost incestuous nature of the co-dependent relationships in such a tight-knit community is stunning.
This would make a truly wonderful film, its various twists and turns keeping you on the edge of your seat as they do even as you read it! Towards the end, I was actually skipping pages to uncover the truth behind the many different strands of this story! Truly remarkable and thoroughly enjoyable, can't wait for her next novel.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars All the characters seem to be hoarding secrets, pain and suffering.
Think of all those wonderful connotations of Devon with rivers meandering through tranquil countryside. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Carol
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing
This book was such a surprise. Recommended by a friend, I was astonished by it. And astonished that I so enjoyed what I thought would be dark, brooding and depressing. Read more
Published on 24 Jan 2011 by Loz
3.0 out of 5 stars Believable? I'm not so sure
There were a lot of things I liked about this book, I liked the country/village setting, the writing & the character descriptions (eventhough there were probably too many of... Read more
Published on 12 Jan 2011 by Wren
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful read
I found this book recently and I loved reading it! The writing is absolutely beautiful, and the story is compelling though at times disturbing. The characters are carefully drawn. Read more
Published on 2 Jan 2011 by Linda Carter
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing read
I loved this book! I could picture the quiet Devon village and its different characters so clearly, and I didn't want to put the book down. Read more
Published on 24 Aug 2008 by E. S. Jones
3.0 out of 5 stars Rather confusing.
This rather confusing story spans 45 years and centres around a village tragedy.

Two young children were playing in a boat on the river when disaster struck and both... Read more
Published on 27 April 2006 by DubaiReader
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully moving, couldn't put it down
This book is one of the best books I've read this year. The plot and characters are vividly depicted and the atmosphere of the close-knit community is almost tangible. Read more
Published on 6 Sep 2005
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