In Downstream, Fort sets out by punt to explore what he describes, in a characteristically lovely phrase. as 'the concealed dimension' of water. Fort is a quintessentially English guide. A pleasingly unstructured ramble through the history of the Midlands.
For the river-lover, who likes to pause and look over bridges to see what is going on beneath (and alongside), and who likes to think of the past and the present continually flowing into the future, this book will be a delight.
The story of the river that bubbles up throughout the narrative is told with the quiet authority of one who knows about the hidden flow beneath the riverbed. Well-referenced scholarship lies behind Fort's lively accounts of the history of this part of Middle England. Erudition with a light touch, cleverly interwoven with stories of pints downed, clean sheets and greasy breakfasts appreciated and characters met; what fun it all is and how impressive is the learning that lies behind it.
March 15, 2009
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