The Frozen Thames

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Overview

"In its long history. the river Thames has frozen solid forty times. These are the stories of that frozen river." "So, begins this original work, which contains forty vignettes based on events thar actually took place each rime the historic Thames froze solid. Spanning more than seven centuries - from 1142 to 1895 - and illustrated with stunning full-color period art, The Frozen Thames is a feat of the imagination ... a work of fiction that transports us back through history to cast us as intimate observers of unforgettable moments in time."
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The Frozen Thames

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Overview

"In its long history. the river Thames has frozen solid forty times. These are the stories of that frozen river." "So, begins this original work, which contains forty vignettes based on events thar actually took place each rime the historic Thames froze solid. Spanning more than seven centuries - from 1142 to 1895 - and illustrated with stunning full-color period art, The Frozen Thames is a feat of the imagination ... a work of fiction that transports us back through history to cast us as intimate observers of unforgettable moments in time." Whether we're viewing the magnificent spectacle of King Henry VIII riding across the ice highway (while plotting to rid himself of his second wife) or Queen Matilda trying to escape her besieged castle in a snowstorm, joining lovers meeting on the frozen river during the plague years or coming upon the sight of a massive ship frozen into the Thames ... these remarkable stories are a triumph of the imagination as well as a moving meditation on love, loss, and the transformative powers of nature.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Between 1142 and 1895, the Thames froze solid 40 times, and Humphreys (Wild Dogs) captures the magic and hardship created by these deep freezes in a series of elegant vignettes. The book opens with Queen Matilda's snow-cloaked escape across the frozen Thames from Oxford Castle, and subsequent snapshots capture everything from fox hunts to the merry Frost Fairs that set up on the solid river. The river is also witness to the Black Death, a window tax and a hearth tax, a crumbling London Bridge and the Luddite uprising. The elements are wonderfully evoked, with coldness so intense that birds fall frozen from the sky, ale freezes solid in its jugs, and trees split apart "as though struck by lightning." In a style meditative and poetic, Humphreys crafts a compelling portrait of the role something as seemingly simple as ice has in people's lives and imaginations. (Mar.)

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Kirkus Reviews
A dreamy, poetic evocation of winters past. As far back as records have been kept, the river Thames, which flows through Oxford, Reading and, of course, the heart of London, has frozen solid only 40 times. For each of these, Canadian poet and novelist Humphreys (Coventry, 2009, etc.) offers a single, delicate vignette, taking delicious poetic license with both grand events and the minutiae of history. The stories begin with the earliest record of a freeze, in 1142, when Queen Matilda made a desperate escape across the ice from her long-besieged castle in Oxford. They continue up to 1895, when ice floes as thick as seven feet crowded the river but it was clear, writes Humphreys, that "the Thames would never, will never, freeze solid in the heart of London again." (Causes: the new London Bridge, which allowed the water to flow more freely, and the dredging of a deeper river channel.) Between these historical bookends the author presents 38 more vivid, intimate sketches of people confronted with the cold, all related in the present tense. A wife marooned indoors by the frost in 1784 passes the time by perfecting her recipe for jugged hare. Two children escaping the plague in 1666 emerge from their quarantined house into a "cold and beautiful" world. In 1789, a sudden thaw kills a husband and wife who good-naturedly permit a ship's captain to attach his vessel by cable to their house's main beam. A miller's son revives a flock of frozen birds with the warmth of his breath in 1809. In each anecdote, Humphreys expands and improvises on a fleeting moment from a life long past. The characters, often unnamed and many captured in first-person monologues, have a presence far more substantial thanthe 1,000-odd words allotted to them. Images and themes recur throughout: the Frost Fairs erected upon the frozen river, the groaning of the ice. Forty vibrant protagonists give depth and variety to this magical collection. Agent: Bill Hanna/Acacia House
From the Publisher
“Humphreys has an impeccable command of imagery, and her prose finds strength in its subtlety.”
Publishers Weekly

“Delicate and incandescent . . . [Humphreys’s] descriptions bristle with nuance, and scenes are pared down to their bare essence.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“A small, beautiful and highly original book . . . one that is both eccentric and exquisite. It’s a lovely gift for thoughtful readers.” – Edmonton Journal

“This is a splendid book, full of memorable and vivid imagery.” – Globe and Mail

“Most curiously wonderful and splendidly written . . .” – The Sun Times

“Each of its episodes has within it the capacity to do what Humphreys did with the entirety of The Lost Garden.” – Quill & Quire

“Powerfully poetic . . .” – NOW magazine

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385342810
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/24/2009
  • Pages: 186
  • Sales rank: 975,042
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2013

    great book

    Good read

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