All Rivers Run Free by Natasha Carthew

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All Rivers Run Free by Natasha Carthew

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Category: Literary Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: Raw, stormy and hugely evocative, Natasha Carthew writes a powerful read set on the Cornish coast – evocative and hugely memorable.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: April 2018
Publisher: riverrun
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1786488626

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Ia Pendilly lives in a caravan on the coast of Cornwall – a woman as raw as the landscape that surrounds her. Living with Bran, her abusive cousin and common-law husband, she's never yet had her own baby. Discovering a waif washed up on shore, Ia rescues the girl but is also rescued by the girl – given a newfound strength to escape and to embark on a new journey. The journey takes her deep into a troubled society and through a damaged, hurting world – finding family and memories long hidden will break Ia, remake her and perhaps give her the elusive sense of freedom she's been seeking.

Cornwall is an evocative place – a wild peninsula filled with rugged and beautiful landscapes, it's an area that, even now, retains a certain separateness from the rest of England – an independence linked closely to a Celtic heritage and a regional language. Taking that sense of rugged beauty and creating characters who evoke the wild openness of the Cornish coast, is author Natasha Carthew. A poet and writer, Carthew lives in Cornwall and spends her time writing outdoors, no matter the weather. Her expertise in doing so is such that she has become a survival expert, a trained walking-guide and teaches wild writing workshops – and those skills are used to dizzying effect in All Rivers Run Free.

Natures play a big a part as the characters – and it's something that works fantastically well, so evocative that whilst reading I could almost feel the cold, salt spray breeze in my face, sweeping me far from cold, urban London to a stunning yet stark landscape in which Carthew places her characters. This combined with Carthew's use of language makes for a read that has a raw, impactful presence to it – primal energy that both drives and grounds her characters, and provides the book with a meaty sense of presence that ultimately leads to it being both highly enjoyable and extremely fulfilling.

Character-wise, Ia felt, to me, slightly out of place in her own story – no bad thing at all here, as it allows her to stand slightly apart from those she encounters – an original and independent character who grows and develops throughout the pages. She's one to root for and one to enjoy, with her unique character voice written with great skill by Carthew, and lending her interactions with the reader an intimacy and immediacy that makes the events of the book both moving and impactful.

A compelling read from a considerable talent, the raw and wild powers of All Rivers Run Free will, I hope, sweep you away as it did me. Many thanks to the publishers for the copy.

For further reading I recommend Little Gold by Allie Rogers – a coming of age story set in the Brighton of 1982, that has an emotional energy and raw intimacy much like All Rivers Run Free. We also enjoyed All Rivers Run Free by Natasha Carthew.

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Buy All Rivers Run Free by Natasha Carthew at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy All Rivers Run Free by Natasha Carthew at


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