The River

BBC Books, 1999
ISBN 978-0563384786

I haven't yet had a chance to read the book in full – a fate it sadly shares with a number of others. But on the few occasions I dipped my toes into it I found it quite enjoyable to read. I picked it up after seeing Wright talking about Uwe Johnson's life on the Isle of Sheppey, a subject which has fascinated him for a while – Johnson's essay 'An Unfathomable Ship' is being referred to in the first chapter. 

The book was published to accompany the TV series 'The River' broadcast on BBC 2 in 1999, and is divided into five chapters: it starts out in the estuary with Kent and Essex, then interestingly jumps to the river's source and its upper reaches, to end up in London. It is generously illustrated, rich with historical detail and entertainingly written (judging by those sections I read so far). Wright has a humane and affectionate approach and portrays a range of characters, communities and events one would not immediately associate with the subject. 

Patrick Wright

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