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I only discovered Helen Humphreys about a year ago, and she has quickly become one of my favorite writers. And of all her books I've read so far, Frozen Thames is my favorite. This series of vignettes are beautifully written and the structure of the book is brilliant.
During historical times, it was not unusual for the Thames to freeze over even though this hasn't happened during the time of recent memory. This book beckons you to investigate those rare occasions when ice bound the river. This is a book, not so much of short stories, the stories are entirely to brief to be considered that, but rather it is a book of brief vignettes. In fact, the book too, is brief --- only about half as tall as is usual. It represents history made brief. And yet, well worth a read.
I enjoyed this book very much. The writing is good and maybe that's why the author is able to take us back in time so we can see (imagine) what it was like to live in such a cold world!
Thanks to Helen Humphreys!
The work is a collection of fictional short stories that, while a good read, are not accurate as to dates or particulars.
The first story in this collection is one of my all-time favourites; it has a magic to it that even my seven-year-old son appreciated.
Humphreys says this is" a long meditation on the nature of ice" but not as you might think. There are no explanations, no maps, no scientific authorities quoted to explain the freezing of the Thames, and the great thaws that followed. These very short snapshots of stories barely four or five pages are about the changeableness of it. It begins as water, becomes ice, changes again, and can even become airborne. Such is the nature of humanity and its various ways of dealing with the world. The forty little vignettes are taken from accounts, some contemporary, of the forty times the Thames has frozen over, and are presented in such evocative language you can imagine the scene vividly. Some stories, of course, are more successful that others, but each will leave you shivering. Read this with the fire going and your coziest quilt wrapped around you.
With Global Warming the hot topic these days Helen Humphreys chooses to write about when the Thames has frozen over. Starting in 1142 and going to 1895 she tells of what it was like having the Thames freeze over by people who were living on or near the Thames. She chronicles daily life in short vignettes. Her research is based on actual events.
Suspend your belief as you read of stories, true or not, about the forty times the river Thames has frozen solid. Each tale may bring about happiness or tragedy as people come to see the miracle of ice. Each time new perspectives are magically drawn by an author who is at her best in these gems.
Beautiful vignettes. My husband and I read a number of these stories over our breakfasts one weekend. A great winter read. Will probably buy a copy for the home library.
beautifyly written but there is no connection amongst the stories, a bit like reading a book of poetry based on something which may have happened when the Thames froze over. No closure. Hardly worth reading
Truly enjoyed and drawn into this interesting, little book of vignettes, part factual/part fictional accounts of "little ice ages" experienced on the River Thames over 700 hundred years.