Monday, October 3, 2011

The Frozen Thames by Helen Humphreys

The river Thames in London has frozen solid only 40 times between 1142 and 1895. Canadian author Helen Humphreys has written character-based vignettes for each of those times, based on true archival accounts. Her prose is both lyrical and spare. Since the destruction of the old London Bridge and the building of a new one that allows water to move more quickly and freely, "the Thames would never, will never, freeze solid in the heart of London again." Historical artwork and photographs add to the charm of this little book, which can be enjoyed in brief dips, or read straight through in the way of a story-cycle. 

I recommend this to fans of the sort of historical fiction that spans centuries and in which place is as much a character as the people, such as Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd, or Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett - even though these authors write much fatter books. If you are looking for more slices of life from medieval England, you might also enjoy Good Masters! Sweet Ladies by Laura Amy Schlitz.

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