Five Rivers Met on a Wooden Plain by Barney Norris is a 288 pages paperback.
From the back cover:
‘There exists in all of us a song waiting to be sung which is as heart-stopping and vertiginous as the peak of the cathedral. That is the meaning of this quiet city, where the spire soars into the blue, where rivers and stories weave into one another, where lives intertwine.’
One quiet evening in Salisbury, the peace is shattered by a serious car crash. At that moment, five lives collide – a flower-seller, a schoolboy, an army wife, a security guard, a widower – all facing their own personal disasters. As one of those lives hangs in the balance, Norris draws the extraordinary voices of these seemingly ordinary people together into a web of love, grief, disenchantment and hope that is startlingly perceptive about the human heart.
When I read the first five pages of this book, I wondered why I had picked it and felt boredom invade me. So it was with amazement and great delight that I started the next chapter and as it turned out, I loved this book!
Five characters, five stories that are linked one way or another, five completely different styles as each chapter is written in that of each character. I loved how distinct these five voices are, each with their current struggles and hurdles, reminiscing their lives, and fighting to find a way to move on. We learn indirectly that things might not go quite as expected, as life tends to get in the way, but I loved that the “follow-up” was written as a non-important detail of someone else’s narration.
I loved the construction of the book (I do tend to enjoy stories that intertwine this way), the tone, the resolve and determination of the characters. It is a great reminder that you never know what is happening behind the masks of the strangers you meet every day. Would definitely recommend!