I don’t know why I haven’t written about a book I read a few weeks ago which is honestly like no other book I’ve read. The other book unique in its own way, which will take me a long time to reread if I ever do, is ‘2666’ by Roberto Bolaño – it took me a long time to read in the first place, even though I was gripped, intrigued, entranced and challenged because its English version is 898 pages long!
The book which I have most recently read which still sits in a corner of my mind is ‘All Rivers Run Free’ by Natasha Carthew. I met Natasha last year when three friends and I went on a writing retreat to Cornwall to St Endellion where coincidentally there was a literary festival on at the same time! We attended a talk by Natasha and joined a conversation with her afterwards about writing, and in particular about the book which I have only just read. Natasha is a wonderful and most unusual writer – she writes mostly out of doors, and as I read ‘All Rivers Run Free’ I felt I could sense this in what she wrote.
It is such an unusual story that I don’t want to reveal too much because it might spoil your enjoyment of reading it; Ia Pendilly is a woman living in dreadful circumstances in a remote part of Cornwall by the sea. She lives in a broken down caravan and is in an abusive relationship with a beast of a man. Don’t let that bare outline of Ia and her situation put you off because this is a book about an adventure, about confronting the past, about the secret fortitude and strength of people, a magical, fantastical story and you will begin to realise as you read it, that it’s it’s very pertinent and relevant to our world today. Ia is indomitable and in her struggle she is almost heroic in what she faces and overcomes.
It is a most extraordinary poetical book – and yet the language isn’t fancy or pretty; the descriptions and imagery are so skilled, and beautiful too that at times I had to stop and just think about what I had read. I usually gallop through a book I am enjoying or is well written. It was impossible to gallop through this. It was utterly gripping, totally engrossing – dragging the reader into Ia’s world, but I could only read a chapter at a time there was so much in it. It’s a wonderful book, even if you don’t like it you will be moved and fascinated by it, and it’s a book you won’t forget!
Here is a link to an interview with Natasha: