Synopses & Reviews
This debut novel is a wonderful portrayal of how love has the power to reawaken and heal the grief of loss. Set in the small Devon village of Cameldip, it explores the effect that the drowning of two children has on a family and a community over almost half a century.
"This eerie first novel plumbs the dark undercurrents of the sleepy English town of Cameldip, where two children drown in 1958, and the grief of their death ripples through generations of its inhabitants. In chapters alternating between the year of the drowning, the parents' lives before the accident and a season 30 years later, Wastvedt brings the players to life: Isabel, who can't make peace with the death of her two children; her husband, Robert, whose rejection by Isabel leads him to Sarah, a young maid; Josef, the drowned children's playmate who grows up with survivor's guilt; and Anna, who comes to Cameldip from London in the 1980s to have her baby out of wedlock. The chapters set in the late 1940s have a lovely, elegiac feel, which makes an effective contrast to the chapters set later, when Wastvedt slowly ratchets up the sense of dread. Then, a teenage crush threatens Josef and Anna's tentative relationship, the patter of small, ghostly feet haunts the town, and Isabel's implacable grief veers toward madness as she takes possession of Anna's son. Though the characters' nostalgia can be frustrating, this suspenseful, atmospheric story progresses with the irresistible flow of the river itself, and readers may find themselves pulled in right up to the ghastly ending. Agent, Jean Naggar. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Tricia Wastvedt's debut novel, met with critical acclaim in England, is a hypnotically readable portrait of a community scarred, but eventually reawakened, by its grief. Two children drown during the summer of 1958 in the English village of Cameldip. Their parents, Isabel and Robert, are bound together in guilt and anger, and as the years pass, the tragedy weaves itself into the invisible fabric of village life.
Robert, finding solace in labor, builds several tree houses that transform the look of the town, and as the years pass the structures grow entwined with other houses. It is thirty years after the tragedy when Anna, a young pregnant woman escaping her life in London, arrives in Cameldip and is taken in by Isabel. As Anna slowly uncovers the secrets of the town's past, she becomes inexorably drawn into the conflict in which Isabel and Robert have been locked for three decades. A story of families, old scars, and new beginnings, The River is a lyrical and haunting tale of betrayal, failure, love, and fortitude.