Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Orange Wednesday: The river (Wastvedt)

For my next Orange Wednesday read, I couldn't resist The river, a debut novel by Tricia Wastvedt which was longlisted for the prize in 2005. Partly it was the setting which sounded interesting - a village in North Devon (an area with which I am familiar), partly it was the watery themed title, and partly it was the fact that a quote from a review on the cover compared it to Daphne Du Maurier.

It's a cleverly written story which deals with the aftermath of a tragic accident where two children drown at the beginning of the book. What is skillful about it is the way that the stories of the characters involved are not told chronologically, but in extracts from their past, so there are a number of threads to follow and piece together in order to understand the effects of the accident on the people concerned. It was a little difficult to keep track of the characters at first, and the move between different time periods, but once I got into it I thought it worked extremely well.

The book primarily tells the story of Isabel and Robert, the parents of the drowned children, whose lives are never the same after the accident. Thirty years later, a woman called Anna comes into their lives - she is pregnant. But her presence unwittingly leads to the resurfacing of the tragedy, beginning a horrible chain of events. I don't want to say more without spoiling the plot!

Wastvedt also devotes attention to describing the Devon landscapes as well as the characters, such as Edward the village doctor, Xavier and Adelie, a French couple who have settled in the village, and Constance, who runs almost all of the village in WI fashion, which I thought made the book extremely well rounded. I was glad to stumble upon such a good read, but was sad to discover that Wastvedt has not written any other books yet, but I hope that she will one day, as although moving, I did really enjoy reading this one.


  1. Sounds lovely. It is always nice to find a novel with a real sense of place - it sounds as though this one has that.

    Thanks for sharing


  2. First, I don't think I've mentioned how much I'm enjoying this feature, so thank you! This book sounds wonderful too! I'm slowly making my way through the Orange shortlists and longlists, so I'm looking forward to this one!

  3. I remember liking this, so thank you for the reminder. Let's hope we get another book one day.

  4. Hannah - yes, I think the sense of place was very much the focus of this novel - it was lovely.

    Nomadreader - thanks for the comment - there are so many Ornage books out there I definitely hope to keep doing this feature for a while.

    Jane - yes, it would be lovely, but this was written such a while ago.

  5. This sounds very interesting, bound to be good if compared to Du Maurier.

  6. Does she deserve the comparisons with Du Maurier? If so I will be reading this one sharpish!

  7. Simon - I think she did, but if you want someone a bit like DDM, you should try her sister Angela first - Treveryan is a fantastic read!

  8. Oooooh, this does sound like a book to get caught up in! I can see how it would have appealed to you with that recipe of things you like so much in your reading.

  9. Tricia's second book is coming out very soon - The German Boy, published by Penguin.


Do leave a comment - I love to hear from people who read my blog.