To the River, To the Sea

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London Review Bookshop

The capacity for a story to merge, to change like that, seems to me that sea-change effect of stories that are involved in water...

To the River is the story of the Ouse, the Sussex river in which Virginia Woolf drowned in 1941. One midsummer week over sixty years later, Olivia Laing walked Woolf’s river from source to sea. The result is a passionate investigation into how history resides in a landscape - and how ghosts never quite leave the places they love.

Olivia came to the bookshop to talk about To the River with Jean Sprackland, who won the 2012 Portico Prize for non-fiction for Strands: A Year of Discoveries on the Beach, a series of meditations prompted by walking on the wild estuarial beaches of Ainsdale Sands between Blackpool and Liverpool.

Olivia and Jean spoke about ghosts and scientists, ephemeral archaeology and treacherous sand-dunes, and the quiddity of names.