Viking (June 2004)
Patricia Wastvedt’s debut novel is a wonderful portrayal of how love has the power to reawaken but also to heal the grief of loss. Set in the small Devon village of Cameldip, THE RIVER explores the effect that the drowning of two children has on a family and a community over almost half a century. With a dreamlike narrative that shifts from character to character, this remarkable novel will take you hostage from the first page and hold you rapt - seduced by its language, absorbed by the emotional history of its characters and beguiled by its intense sense of place.
THE RIVER has been long-listed for the 2005 Orange Prize.
'Moving and impressive, strongly atmospheric. A remarkable achievement.' -- Penelope Lively
'Intense and lyrical... Form and content merge beautifully in this tale of many voices.' -- The Guardian
'Patricia Wastvedt's accomplished debut novel skilfully evokes a sense of impending doom.... Wastvedt brings her story to its climax over one Christmas with a finale that du Maurier herself would have been proud of.' -- Daily Mail
'All the more poignant for being set amid beautiful countryside, and full of brooding sadness right up to the unexpected horror of the ending.' -- The Times
'Impressively understated... Wastvedt reveals an acute sensitivity to the desolation that comes where the possibility of happiness has been muted. Her descriptions of place are particularly persuasive, though her lyrical portrait of the village is never allowed to blunt the precision of her imagery... That this deftly written novel succeeds so thoroughly is because of Patricia Wastvedt's subtle treatment of her subject, and her understanding that grief may be both a destructive force, and an experience that can bind people together as tightly as love.' -- Times Literary Supplement
...her writing is captivating and evocative, summoning startling images out of lyrical prose and imagery. The River reminds us that though we can – and often do – fail under the burden of loss and heartbreak, we can be saved despite ourselves.” -- The Globe and Mail (Canada)
“The chapters set in the late 1940’s have a lovely, elegiac feel, which makes an effective contrast to the chapters set later, when Wastvedt slowly ratchets up the dread...this suspenseful, atmospheric story progresses with the irresistible flow of the river itself, and the readers may find themselves pulled in right up to the ghastly ending.” -- Publishers Weekly
Foreign rights have been sold to Penguin Canada / Canada, Ambo-Anthos / Holland and List / Germany