Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Frozen Thames

In each of these forty remarkable vignettes, the River Thames freezes over, and the lives of all Londoners - the rich and the poor, the royal and the peasant, the merchant and the working man - come together in a cross-section of history suspended like bubbles in a block of ice.

These historically accurate snapshots of deep winter center on the lives of those who lived through the actual times the river froze. The characters are complex and their feelings palpable. The frozen river and hard winters double as characters aching with depth and pathos. The stories are fraught with tension, suspended in medias res, leaving the reader on ice while the river flows on underneath. Some elicit powerful emotions, while others thrive cloaked in cold intellectualism. They submerge into one another, creating patterns and lattices connecting time periods, people, and places. Consequently, The Frozen Thames feels authentic and postmodern at once, no easy feat in such a short form.
Humphreys’ spirited inventiveness, poignant details, and focus on the range of human experience enliven and expand her fictions into truths. The Frozen Thames is a fine book, always smart, engaging, and entertaining.
This review was first published by The Sacramento Book Review, August 2009

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