The Frozen ThamesBook - 2007
A groundbreaking, genre-bending new work from one of Canada’s most respected writers.
In its long history, the River Thames has frozen solid forty times. These are the stories of that frozen river.
And so opens one of the most breathtaking and original works being published this season. The Frozen Thames contains forty vignettes based on events that actually took place each time the river froze between 1142 and 1895. Like a photograph captures a moment, etching it forever on the consciousness, so does Humphreys’ achingly beautiful prose. She deftly draws us into these intimate moments, transporting us through time so that we believe ourselves observers of the events portrayed. Whether it’s Queen Matilda trying to escape her besieged castle in a snowstorm, or lovers meeting on the frozen river in the plague years; whether it’s a simple farmer persuading his oxen the ice is safe, or Queen Bess discovering the rare privacy afforded by the ice-covered Thames, the moments are fleeting and transformative for the characters — and for us, too.
Stunningly designed and illustrated throughout with full-colour period art, The Frozen Thames is a triumph.
Baker & Taylor
Vividly imagines forty stories, one for each time the river Thames has frozen solid and based on actual events that occurred each time, from Queen Matilda trying to escape her besieged castle in a snowstorm, to King Henry VIII riding across the ice highway while plotting to rid himself of Anne Boleyn.
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It was strange not to see animals about. Even in the bustle of London there have always been cats and dogs. But the King has ordered all the dogs and cats within the city to be destroyed, as he fears that they are responsible for carrying the plague.
The thaw of the Thames goes just as badly as the freeze. It comes fierce and sudden, huge slabs of ice crashing through the arches of London Bridge, damaging the bridge and carrying away portions of the Frost Fair. Booths and huts, upright and unmanned on their ice floes, hurtle downstream, some with their signs still attached to the front of the structure. It is as though the people of London need reminding that the river is a wild thing and this cannot be forgotten because, if it is, the Thames will simply arch its back and throw anything off that tries to tame it.
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