A lyrical novel in the vein of Sara Baume and Eimear McBride, about marginalisation, mental illness and the power of nature and motherhood in restoring hope
A woman on the edge of the sea finds a girl on the edge of life.
Brittle but not yet broken, Ia Pendilly ekes out a fierce life in a caravan on the coast of Cornwall. In years of living with Bran - her embattled, battering cousin and common law husband - she's never yet had her own baby. So when she discovers the waif washed up on the shore, Ia takes the risk and rescues her. And the girl, in turn, will rescue something in Ia - bringing back a memory she's lost, giving her the strength to escape, and leading her on a journey downriver.
It will take her into the fringes of a society she's shunned, collapsed around its own isolation. It will take her through a valley ravaged by floods, into a world not too far from reckoning. It will take her in search of her sister, and the dark remembrance of their parting. It will take her, break her, remake her, in the shapes of freedom.
Natasha Carthew is a startling new voice from beyond the limits of common urban experience. She tells a tale of marginalisation and motherhood in prose that crashes like waves on rocks; rough, breathless and beautiful.
Natasha Carthew has been published previously as a poet and young adult writer and her books have been nominated for the Carnegie Award and shortlisted for several national awards including the Branford Boase. She lives in Cornwall with her girlfriend of twenty years and spends most of her time writing outdoors in all weathers. Her identity as a country writer has led her to become a survival expert, a trained walking-guide and to teach Wild Writing workshops.
Raw, passionate, hallucinatory. Carthew allows us to hear the living cadence of Kernow, its unique, rugged beauty. I feel I have been wild swimming - reading All Rivers Run Free was to be lured by an edgy siren voice of fierce womanhood across the cultural boundary of the Tamar; immersed in the resonance of Cornwall's ancient mysteries and rebellious heart, and to wish never to have to leave again. — Rachel Holmes
Reading the opening pages of Natasha Carthew's All Rivers Run Free is akin to learning another language. The prose, at first, is like nothing you've seen before, but you quickly forget you weren't always fluent and are soon captivated by its poetry, its tidal rhythms, its beat. With a Cormac McCarthy-esque ear for dialogue and an eye for the mystical narrative of the natural world, Carthew has written a speculative tale that, from page one, takes you by the hand and whispers: come with me. You have no choice but to follow. — Sarah Leipciger
A beautiful, uncanny and mysterious novel. The haunting, flooded landscapes combine with Carthew's fluid use of language to create a tidal wash of memory, grief, birth and death. The future portrayed here is dark and fierce, but it's ultimately a story of human resilience and hope — Jane Rusbridge, author of Rook
In a novel soaked in spray of the North Atlantic, Natasha Carthew conjures up a Cornwall both familiar and frighteningly alien. Hers is a powerful evocation of a bleak future, glimpsed through the mizzle and the sea fret, in which brief moments of tenderness are all the more resonant for their rarity. — Wyl Menmuir, Booker Prize-longlisted author of the The Many
Has a raw, impactful presence to it - a primal energy that both drives and grounds her characters, and provides the book with a meaty sense of presence that ultimately leads to it being both highly enjoyable and extremely fulfilling . . . A compelling read from a considerable talent, the raw and wild powers of All Rivers Run Free will, I hope, sweep you away — Luke Marlowe, Bookbag
Natasha Carthew has written an extraordinary, beautiful and wild allegory for our times. All Rivers Run Free is a vision of our world before the flood, a new flood, where sea levels are rising, where rivers spill their banks, and where society has broken into feral, marauding factions. It is a frightening and close-at-hand possible future, where nothing is familiar, everything is corrupted, but where the exquisite flame of one woman's hope still flickers, carried in language as rare and new as the dystopian Britain that it describes. — Katharine Norbury, author of The Fish Ladder
Carthew's rough lyricism pulls you into its tides and rhythms taking you on an extraordinary journey into the wilds of Cornwall and the wilds of a woman's heart. Fierce, raw and compelling, All Rivers Run Free grabs your heart and doesn't let go. A remarkable book - furious, fragile and courageous. — Tor Udall, author of A Thousand Paper Birds
A dark and dystopian narrative . . . Carthew's impossibly pretty prose. She's a poet, you know-and oh, it shows! — Niall Alexander, Tor.com
The rhythm of the language is hypnotic and the powerful imagery takes over. The raw energy and beauty of the landscape are particularly well-evoked — Fanny Blake, Daily Mail
Underpinned by a fractured syntax, the narrative sparkles and startles with a whipcrack intensity. A novel of unforgettably rugged beauty. — The Countryman
Written in lyrical yet unpolished, childlike prose befitting a narrator whose childhood was spent in violent isolation — Antonia Charlesworth, Big Issue
In a style reminiscent of Eimear McBride . . .an Atwoodian dystopia . . . Carthew achieves something rather unique. An interesting mixture of the sort of hardcore, innovative literary fiction and more commercial fiction with great readability — Tommi Laine, Helsinki Book Review