The Fish Ladder: A Journey Upstream by Katharine Norbury
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Norbury has always been missing something from her past. She had been abandoned as a baby in a convent just outside Liverpool and had been adopted into a loving family. She had never been able to settle completely wandering and moving around the globe. Whilst living in Spain she miscarried, losing a long hoped for sibling for her eldest daughter Evie. Grief for the loss the child and of what might have been turned into an introspective look at herself, and the germination of an idea to follow a river from mouth to source. Moving back to the UK meant that she was closer to family and could start to develop this idea fully. Hoping that the walk will distract her from the grief, a life changing event means that she has to try to find her birth mother who she hopes will have some of the answers to her questions.
Norbury has drawn inspiration from several genres to write this book. Weaving travel, natural history, poetry and mythology it is also a very personal memoir. It is quite an emotive read too, with the highs and lows of family and life laid bare. The writing is poetic, lyrical and at times dreamlike and ethereal, almost with a imagined quality. Her writing is when she is describing the natural world and landscape is very evocative too; you could be standing alongside her. Painful to read at times, you live with her trials and tribulations, but she is tenacious in the face of everything. Enjoyable generally, but occasionally felt a touch fictional. Would definitely read more by her though. 3.5 stars.
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