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The Fish Ladder: A Journey Upstream Hardcover – 12 Feb 2015
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Beautiful and brave ... A modern Greek myth (James Rebanks, author of The Shepherd's Life)
What a delight! The Fish Ladder is a luminous sort of book, beautifully written, darting here and there like a kingfisher over a stream. A beautiful, strange, intoxicating and utterly unique story (Philip Pullman)
The Fish Ladder is truly compelling. Its diverse mix of nature, travel and personal history combines to produce a moving journal of one woman's endeavours to walk from dark into light. Warm and touching, its impact lies in its simplicity and emotional power (Jo Brand)
This is an unusual memoir leading from the grief of a death to the shocking discovery of a birth. The fluid narrative, with its tributaries and false trails, its reflections of dream-like memories and focus on indiscernible destinations, seems to follow the rivers along which Katharine Norbury loves to travel. She has written a magical and most original first book (Michael Holroyd)
The Fish Ladder is a beautiful book. An exquisite example of 'new nature writing'. The scattered fragments of pain and loss and loveliness are bound together into a coherent whole. A generous, moving book and extraordinarily well written too (Sara Maitland)
Skilfully crafted memoir . A deeply human story that is by turns dramatic, moving and beautifully written. It's a book about both nature and personal tragedy, but it's also about the way the green and healing world around us restores the grieving soul . Norbury is an immensely assured writer, and it is astonishing to reflect that this is her first book ***** (Mark Cocker Mail on Sunday)
**** Part of the book's charm, and its eventual magic, comes from watching a writer find her voice, and from following a seemingly directionless search as it discovers focus, coalescence, and, eventually, wonder . The ending is reached through twists of emotion that made me cry. The memoirist's challenge, as I was once told while struggling with one, is simple: "Give a true account of yourself". The Fish Ladder accomplishes this brilliantly (Horatio Clare Sunday Telegraph)
There is much to learn from The Fish Ladder about how the memoir can tell a story as well as be a meditation; how language can be both profound and sensuous. It's an unsentimental but extraordinary exploration of how we use narrative to understand our place in the world (Amit Chaudhuri)
Deeply affecting, atmospheric and sensuous, The Fish Ladder is a beautifully written meditation of what it is to be alone, of yearning for connection and of the consolations of nature (Polly Samson)
A beguiling amalgam of personal anecdote, travelogue and family history . Norbury attains a wonder-struck prose poetry (Independent)
OBSERVER RISING STAR 2015
TELEGRAPH BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR 2015
LONGLISTED FOR THE GUARDIAN FIRST BOOK AWARD 2015
Part travelogue, part memoir, this deeply moving story of self-discovery - told through journeys on foot along the glittering rivers of Britain - is nature writing at its finest and destined to be a classic of memoir
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As for the premise of following rivers to their sources, that is managed with a light touch and a proper feel for the natural world. The author doesn't flash her knowledge all over the shop, but draws us along in sympathy. I'm very glad she found the Well at the End of the World. It is out there on every walk one does, but this writer has had more of a struggle than most to reach it.
This book made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me want to take a flask and a map and go wandering, and then grab and hold my children a little more tightly after reading it. Her descriptions of nature are indeed beautifully written, but there is so much more to this book than a travel narrative. Part autobiography, part musing, part mythology - this book has it all, and then more. I can honestly say that this book is my read of the year, and would urge you all to buy it. Just don't forget the tissues...
The idea of a journey upstream was so good, that if I had better legs I'd try to emulate it. Following the ensuing adventure was not just fun, it said a lot, if you wanted it to, about 'Life as Journey'.
Some people might have found the daughter a little precocious, but I found her quite charming and the relationship between mother and duaghter was one of the delights underlying this delight-ful story.
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