All Rivers Run Free
A woman on the edge of the sea finds a girl on the edge of life.
Brittle but not yet broken, Ia Pendilly ekes out a fierce life in a caravan on the coast of Cornwall. In years of living with Bran – her embattled, battering cousin and common law husband – she’s never yet had her own baby. So when she discovers the waif washed up on the shore, Ia takes the risk and rescues her. And the girl, in turn, will rescue something in Ia – bringing back a memory she’s lost, giving her the strength to escape, and leading her on a journey downriver.
It will take her into the fringes of a society she’s shunned, collapsed around its own isolation. It will take her through a valley ravaged by floods, into a world not too far from reckoning. It will take her in search of her sister, and the dark remembrance of their parting. It will take her, break her, remake her, in the shapes of freedom.
Ia Pendilly lives a solitary existence in a caravan on the North coast of Cornwall, bracketed by the wild sea and rugged land, and by a bully of a husband and utter hopelessness. Ia’s one solace are the memories of her childhood with sister Evie, of times spent pottering and playing in the caves at home, free and happy. Now, Ia is consumed with loneliness, those sunny days backalong keeping her afloat. When a she finds a wisp of a child washed up on the shore, her prayers are answered. As Ia nurses the girl back to health, the girl in her own way restores something in Ia, a strength and courage that has lain tucked away for years. Soon a bond unlike any other grows between Ia and the girl. They are no longer two strangers. They are mother and child. When Bran discovers the girl, Ia packs up her small world in a sack and flees, finally escaping the torment of his cruel words and crueller fists. As she and the girl start off on their journey, they are met with dangers that threaten to part them. Following the river home comes with its risks but surely they are risks worth taking.
Ia’s tale is at times disturbing and others incredibly touching. Her cousin and common-law husband Bran is a bully, his wrath wrapping around her and suffocating every pocket of happiness. She awaits the days he goes out to fish with bated breath. Then she can have the caravan and cove to herself, to pick among the flotsam and jetsam and be free to imagine what motherhood might be like. She has suffered the heartache of several miscarriages and she carries the loss each and every second. Lonely and afraid, Ia’s life takes a sudden shift when she finds the girl washed up in the cove and she feels a hope that has eluded her for so many years. The bond these two share was really touching. I loved following their journey.
I can’t write this review without really quickly mentioning the setting. As I’m from Cornwall it was so lovely to read Natasha Carthew’s exquisite descriptions of its wild and rugged beauty. She has encapsulated it magnificently in her prose and for a few hours I really did feel as if I was in Cornwall, hearing the waves and seagulls. I especially loved seeing The Mermaid of Zennor briefly mentioned. It’s a fascinating legend – I’ve popped a link here! Carthew’s narrative is sharp and distinctive.
All Rivers Run Free is a raw, exquisitely told tale of loneliness, forgiveness, love, hope and finding your way home. Breathtaking!
Raw. Compelling. Breathtaking.
To purchase a copy of this book in beautiful paperback (OUT TODAY) you can follow the links below:
Happy Paperback Publication Day Natasha!
About Natasha Carthew:
Natasha Carthew has been published previously as a poet and young adult writer and her books have been nominated for the Carnegie Award and shortlisted for several national awards including the Branford Boase. She lives in Cornwall with her girlfriend of twenty years and spends most of her time writing outdoors in all weathers. Her identity as a country writer has led her to become a survival expert, a trained walking-guide and to teach Wild Writing workshops.
You can find Natasha on Twitter here!
Huge thanks to Ana McLaughlin for my review copy!