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The fish ladder : a journey upstream / Katharine Norbury.

By: Norbury, Katharine [author.].
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: London : Bloomsbury, 2015Description: 294 pages : illustrations (black and white) ; 23 cm.Content type: text | still image Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9781408859261.Subject(s): Norbury, Katharine | Norbury, Katharine -- Travel -- Great Britain | Adopted children -- Biography | Great Britain -- Description and travelDDC classification: 362.7/34/092 Awards: The Wainwright Prize for best UK nature and travel writing, shortlist 2016.Summary: Katharine Norbury was abandoned as a baby in a Liverpool convent. Raised by a loving adoptive family, she grew into a wanderer, drawn by the landscape of the British countryside. One summer, following the miscarriage of a much-longed-for child, Katharine sets out - accompanied by her nine-year-old daughter, Evie - with the idea of following a river from the sea to its source. The luminously observed landscape grounds the walkers, earths them, providing both a constant and a context to their expeditions. But what begins as a diversion from grief evolves into a journey to the source of life itself: a life threatening illness forces Katharine to seek a genetic medical history, and this new and unexpected path delivers her to the door of the woman who abandoned her all those years ago. Combining travelogue, memoir, exquisite nature writing and fragments of poems with tales from Celtic mythology, The Fish Ladder has a rare emotional resonance. It is a portrait of motherhood, of a literary marriage, a hymn to the adoptive family, but perhaps most of all it is an exploration of the extraordinary majesty of the natural world. Imbued with a keen and joyful intelligence, this original and life-affirming book is set to become a classic of its genre.
List(s) this item appears in: 9. Your Best Reads of 2017
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

LONGLISTED FOR THE GUARDIAN FIRST BOOK AWARD 2015
LONGLISTED FOR THE WAINWRIGHT PRIZE 2016
Katharine Norbury was abandoned as a baby in a Liverpool convent. Raised by loving adoptive parents, she grew into a wanderer, drawn by the beauty of the British countryside. One summer, following the miscarriage of a much-longed-for child, Katharine and her nine-year-old daughter Evie decide to follow a river from the sea to its source. But a chance circumstance forces Katharine to the door of the woman who gave her up all those years ago.

Combining travelogue, memoir, exquisite nature writing, fragments of poetry and tales from Celtic mythology, The Fish Ladder is a captivating and life-affirming story about motherhood, marriage, family, and self-discovery, illuminated by the extraordinary majesty of the natural world.

Includes bibliographical references.

Katharine Norbury was abandoned as a baby in a Liverpool convent. Raised by a loving adoptive family, she grew into a wanderer, drawn by the landscape of the British countryside. One summer, following the miscarriage of a much-longed-for child, Katharine sets out - accompanied by her nine-year-old daughter, Evie - with the idea of following a river from the sea to its source. The luminously observed landscape grounds the walkers, earths them, providing both a constant and a context to their expeditions. But what begins as a diversion from grief evolves into a journey to the source of life itself: a life threatening illness forces Katharine to seek a genetic medical history, and this new and unexpected path delivers her to the door of the woman who abandoned her all those years ago. Combining travelogue, memoir, exquisite nature writing and fragments of poems with tales from Celtic mythology, The Fish Ladder has a rare emotional resonance. It is a portrait of motherhood, of a literary marriage, a hymn to the adoptive family, but perhaps most of all it is an exploration of the extraordinary majesty of the natural world. Imbued with a keen and joyful intelligence, this original and life-affirming book is set to become a classic of its genre.

WainwrightNatureTravel2016

The Wainwright Prize for best UK nature and travel writing, shortlist 2016.

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Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

Recovering from the death of her child in utero and from enduring the pregnancy until it ended naturally a month after that, Norbury becomes fixated on a book she read years before, which describes following a river from its mouth to its source. At the same time, her loss has made her more interested in her own birth and adoption, and the two compulsions come together when she sets off on natural explorations in the British countryside with her daughter, and finds her birthplace-a convent-and nuns who remember her as a baby. The bulk of the account, the woodsy writing about the natural world and other themes such as Celtic myths, is dreamlike and lovely; these make the book more suited to nature readers than to adoptees. At the same time, nature lovers won't necessarily want to read about adoption. VERDICT This account is well written but will struggle to find an audience.-Henrietta Verma, Library Journal © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

In this engaging story full of old Welsh and Scottish names, British film editor Norbury uses the search for the source of a river-physically as well as metaphorically-to convey the need for finding her birth mother. The notion of following a river to its source grew from reading the novel The Well at the World's End by the Scottish writer Neil M. Gunn. Norburry set out several times, either alone or with her nine-year-old daughter, Evie, to find these sources-of Dunbeath Water, Scotland, mentioned in the novel, and also many rivers near Norbury's summer cottage in Wales and family home in Cheshire, England. A miscarriage of a baby she eagerly wanted triggered thoughts of her own adoption. She also recalls her long-ago visit to the convent of the Sisters of Mercy, outside of Liverpool on the Mersey River, where she learned from the nuns that she was in fact a cherished baby and cared for by Sister Marie Therese. There are many moments of extraordinary synergy in this limpid, patiently meandering narrative, and Norbury manages to incorporate them in a natural, light-pedaling fashion. Her search for her biological mother, the sudden ill health of her beloved adopted mother, and Norbury's discovery of a tumor lodged deep in her own rib cage all shape an extraordinary and moving journey. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

After suffering a devastating personal loss, Norbury took inspiration from the work of Scottish writer Neil Gunn and decided to follow the Dunbeath Water from its source to the sea. From the small Welsh cottage long owned by her family, she and her nine-year-old daughter set out on walks following various watercourses as she planned her ultimate hike. The time in Wales occurred during a trying period in her marriage and her mother's frightening illness, both of which preoccupied her her as she walked. Her close proximity to home also prompted reflection on the mysteries surrounding her birth and adoption. Initially only a slight digression from a primarily meditative narrative on nature, the adoption story takes on more power as Norbury's own sudden illness prompts a need to learn about her parentage. The subsequent revelations, coupled with her achievements in the wild and reaffirmations of family love, give The Fish Ladder more than a few unexpected twists. Norbury accomplishes a quiet success here, crafting a personal journey of mind and body that incorporates literary references, science observation, and parental reflections. Memoir-readers looking for less gimmick and more substance will find her adventure enriching. Book clubs, take note.--Mondor, Colleen Copyright 2015 Booklist

Kirkus Book Review

British writer Norbury's debut memoir takes readers on vigorous walks through lochs, rivers, and soggy marshes in Scotland, England, and Wales. Adopted by loving parents and unable to identify, not for lack of trying, her birth parents, the author found that the inability to construct her family's story left her "dizzyingly adrift," living with her writer husband and their daughter Evie in both Spain and England. A miscarriage, as well as the loss of her father years before, deepened her loneliness. Inspired by Neil M. Gunn's novel The Well at the World's End, Norbury was intuitively drawn to the idea of walking from the mouth of a river to its source. For starters, she and Evie walked the banks of Afon Geirch, which runs into Cable Bay in Wales, where the family has a summer cottage. Though thwarted by fences and mud, she was not deterred. Following her expeditions could send readers to an old-fashioned atlas that includes the many bodies of water she encountered, including Dunbeath Water, near Spey, Scotland, where the "well at the world's end" supposedly exists. Whether the well is real or fictional hardly matters. It's the journey that counts. Norbury, whose background includes film editing for the BBC, stirs the imagination with descriptive passages"Salt-white boulders lined a powdery shore of crystal sand, unmarked and clean, its whiteness stained to the colour of cork by the peat"and her many digressions delight. For example, there is the tale of Boand, the goddess who went to seek a forbidden well in the land beyond her own, and that of her aunt's flirtation (or was it an affair?) with a fisherman. All the stories circle back to themes of loneliness, yearning, and self-discovery. As the fish ladder enables salmon to swim upstream, Norbury's treks helped her come to terms with the circumstances of her birth. A beautifully written book about a journey through wild places in the landscape and the heart. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.