Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain by Barney Norris

Where to start with this beautiful book?! Barney Norris, an award winning playwright, creates a deeply moving interwoven narrative, the characters of which are intricately connected after a car crash. This is a particularly moving and emotive book, and one I definitely could not put down. Having recently finished my Masters (yay), this was the first book I read that was not part of the syllabus, and it definitely did not disappoint!Five Rivers

The Salisbury setting also serves to connect the characters, with the opening chapter offering beautiful imagery of the rivers and tributaries, alongside local landmarks, that all contribute to the greater force of life that is the River Avon. This creates a parallel with the narrative and offers a beautiful metaphor throughout the text. The five characters that Norris seamlessly shifts from are all connected by some detail, great or small, meaning each individual voice contributes to the greater arc of the narrative.

Norris captures moments of life as it shatters, dealing with themes such as loss, love and memory. The characters come from all walks of life; a schoolboy to a flower seller, a farmer to an army wife. As a reader you become immersed in each individual story, despite the range of characters and diverse narrative styles presented, a true testament to the author. Each first person narrative offers an essence of humanity, further connecting the five individual stories. Therefore, the text offers a commentary on how we can all be troubled by our own individual traumas, alongside being thrust together by a cataclysmic event, such as a dramatic car crash.

Although falling under the genre of literary fiction, the poetic writing style enforces the accessibility of the work. The writing beautifully presents the complex plethora of emotions that are a constant feature of human life. Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain presents a lens which magnifies the smaller moments of life. Similar to my previous post on Porter, this work once again proves that literary fiction is not something to shy away from.

A short and sweet post, but this book is definitely one of my new favourites, and something I could easily gush on and on about. Instead, I hope this short introduction will inspire you to go on and give it a read – I really hope you will love it as much as I do! If you have read it, please do let me know in the comments below as it would be great to hear your thoughts!

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