Book Review – Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain by Barney Norris

The Random Intro…

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter then you know that I tweet a lots of quotes from books as I read them. In every tweet, I do my best not to give anything away. I aim to give everyone who hasn’t read the book some thoughtful quotes and a reason to maybe read the book. If any of you have already read the book, then I hope what I deliver provides a chance to reminisce as we go along. 

I take the same approach when I review a book. I try to capture the driving themes, the good and the bad, without giving the story away. Sometimes I don’t even really mentioning the story. I want to capture the essence of the book, not simply create a facsimile of the blurb that you can find anywhere (including on the back of the book!)

fiveriverscoverThe Review

Why did I tell you all that? Lovely though it is, I am meant to be reviewing Fiver Rivers met on a Wooded Plain by Barney Norris, not the justification of my approach to Tweeting. The all important link between the two is this; there were so many parts of Barney Norris’ book that I wanted to share. So many sublime sentences that captured a feeling or a mood or a situation perfectly. I restrained myself as much as possible, but you can see from the link below. There were still quite a few, and they are as good under review as when I first read them.

All my #FiveRivers tweets

It is pretty obvious that Barney can see life laid out in front of him. He is a young man, but he understands every age and every type of person. The perspective of others is such a powerful thing to be able to experience. I feel I can also see this way to a lesser extent than Barney. To be able stare out through the windows of someone else’s eyes, and feel what they feel; young or old, rich or poor, close or completely opposed to your experiences. It’s a powerful thing and Barney delivers it beautifully. He can also take the reader to emotional heights as well; love and death, happiness, despair and everything in between.

The book starts with an exquisitely wrought flyby of the history of Salisbury, it’s landscape and its cathedral. This is followed by Rita’s story which is a million literary  miles away from such a poetic beginning. These juxtapositions, the separation of each story, provide the structure for the whole book. The linkages and the multilayered connections between these different stories is the lifeblood of the book. Barney sows the threads throughout each of the distinct stories, but all the time the threads are being gathered, knitting together to make a complete and poignant story.

Barney uses strongly developed skills to deliver each character’s internal speech and his script style dialogue worked well providing direct, clean prose. It shines through that Barney comes from a script-writing background and the format of the book plays to these strengths. Barney sees the raw truth of people. The things they think between the things they say, and every character of the diverse set in the book is so different. You connect with each because they talk with an eloquent, intelligent, deep internal voice. For some characters this is conscious and others don’t fully understand the way they think. The book conveys so much truth of people.

On a related theme, there’s something I want to mention about ‘the magic of the real world’. As some readers will know, I grew up on a fantasy heavy reading list, and magic was one of the main draws for me. A well written supernatural scene, or a properly realistic, grounded piece of magic can make a book. Conversely, poor magic can kill an otherwise good book. I have read a few cross over books, Sixty One Nails by Mike Shevdon comes to mind,  where there is actual magic in an otherwise modern and realistic world. But Fiver Rivers met on a Wooded Plain manages that exquisite other type of magic. The real magic of the every day. Emotion, intelligent interpretation of situations and a sprinkling of belief conjure (yes, that is a magic pun.) that same feeling, one that really is part of everyone’s experience of life, even if we don’t all accept it for what it is.

So to conclude, Fiver Rivers met on a Wooded Plain is a set of wonderful stories that intertwine not so much because they need to, nor because they have been created, but because that’s the way life is, and that’s how rivers work. The book shows the tangled web of life’s visible connections and the ten fold numbers that you don’t… It shows people in all their individual glory and it shows how the world has changed in 50 years. Lives change, but so does agriculture and travel!

Agriculture and travel. It’s subtle, but you’ll have to read the book to find out. I recommend that you do.

Rating: 9/10





A picture of how a landscape and a people with together


The Month of August – A roundup

Good morning (or generic time of day where you are) everyone. How the bloody hell are you? It’s been aaggeeesss since I last bothered to visit, and I’m going to tell you why. Things are gonna change round here (again) and that is for the better…

Let’s start this story from the last time I visited. My last post was the book review of Minority Report on the 24th July. It’s the 5th September today, so that is 6 weeks of total absence, basically the whole school summer holidays! I am really sorry I neglected you 😦 What follows is an update of what I have been doing and what I plan to do next…

Firstly, I have been reading a lot (Castle of Wizardry, Consider Phlebas, Eden & Gardening t Eden, Dead Air.) I haven’t reviewed any books, but I have rated them all in the book list in my book activity page. I have mentioned before that I really wanted to use this blog and my whole Post Consumer reading challenge as a way to ready more, write more and see where it takes me. Well, it doesn’t take me to being chained to writing book reviews and nothing else. I am therefore going to try to do a monthly round up of my book reading progress from now on.

I still want to use some of my time to write more diverse articles for this site. I really do still want to investigate consumerism and various other “stuff”. I want to understand, at least for myself, where my previous meager attempts at shrugging off consumerism have gone wrong and how I can rectify that.

My writing has taken a sharp upward turn this month, in volume if not quality! I have joined a writing group and this consists of a health mix of about an hours writing workshop each month, followed by at least 2 hours in a pub 🙂 This group has inspired me to finally dust off the book that was 0.000001% complete and get on with writing properly. I have now written about 2000 words in draft and the imaginative humours are up.

Lastly, I am trying to find ways to move further into the bookish world with a possible, maybe, option, vague plan, thought of doing this more as a job in the future. Writing books is obviously a route to do that, but it is apparent from the number of authors that I follow on Twitter that this is definitely not a street paved with gold or even copper for the vast majority. I am writing a book because I want to… So, maybe there are some articles in me? Maybe there is half a copy-editor in me (ewww) or maybe there is a blend of all 3, plus a few more, that could work? When I started this blog I was dipping a toe into the literary world. Over a year on, I am very glad I started this Journey and I guess my foot is submerged; still writing the blog, going to writing club, writing a book. Wow, this feels good.

One Book List to rule them all

Hello Sunday evening. Where did you creep up from?? Before I give up for the day, I wanted to update you all (or at least the Ether!) I have spent a lot of time with books this weekend and most of it wasn’t with my nose in one. Since I started the blog I have been gradually mining into my book backlog one at a time. Each time I do, I post a next book article, then I blog the review at the end. This double entry for each book takes much of my allocated blog time and I don’t get to blog the other amazing stuff I want to.

This weekend took a huge step towards resolving that. I got all of my unread books out, and I mean ALL. I organised them, then built a book list to beat all other book lists! I created one single list of all of the reading books I have left to read. I interleaved the various genres so that I get variety and I made sure that series were in order (if I have the series that is!) I *think* that there will be 160 books in the list. That’s from now, not from the start of my Quest! I also have some other books in what will become Libraries. Three main ones have been created so far: “Reference”, “Read Then Do” and “A little and Often” The names may change and I will explain all when I have my life back in order.

I’ve got loads of work still to go, including faffing around with pictures. Therefore, I think this is my first every picture-less blog post! The Horror!

I’m going to be getting the new structure in over the next few weeks, or more likely weekends. I will start with the first part of the list so we all know what is coming up, after all, that was the whole point. Then I will get funky with the book pictures I have taken. There will also need to be some updates to The Rules and stuff. It’s all going to be occurring right here, but not now. Now is bed time for Mr.Pocobooc.

Nighty night all.

Next Book – The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller


So, those of you on Twitter might have noticed that I have already started this book?? Apart from an expectation that there was going to be quite a few parallels with what I’m doing and what Andy Miller did, I had no idea what to expect from this book. I’m about a fifth of the way in and finding it quite a surreal read for many reasons. I will save the commentary for my review of the book. Onwards…