Five Rivers Met On A Wooded Plain by Barney Norris

In his novel, Norris uses the event of a car accident to give the reader a glimpse into the lives of five people. This takes places in Salisbury and the characters could not be more out of the ordinary. Nevertheless, their lives are full of emotions and Norris shows that even the most normal lives are full of interesting stories.

A car crash could be considered an event in towns like Salisbury where nothing else is ever happening. The story follows five lives in this town that come together at this event: A schoolboy, an army wife, an old man, a young student and a flower seller/drugdealer.

All of these people feel lost and sad. Their lives are not as they would like them to be – for the most varied reasons. Norris discusses the big topics of love and loss, identity and dreams on such a personal level that all readers can relate. In a town where life seems to stand still the characers realize that life is not.

Day after day after day after day nothing happens and it all feels so like waiting, but the thing is, the thing that scares you if you stopto think about it is, it’s not waiting; there’s nothing to wait for; you’re not waiting for anything. It’s your life.

His language is poetic and full of wonderful descriptions and thoughts. In his understanding, the nature around Salisbury is an intricate part of life and influences those living there. Everything – nature, the city, the people – is connected through history and human relationships. Throughout the book we realize that all the characters, no matter how different, are in some way associated with each other.

Five rivers met on a wooded plain, and under the weight of that water, an extraordinary thing took place. The startled world, stirred by this confluence of riverways, started to sing bright notes into the blue air. A great chord rang out in the deep heart of England, and feeling welled up through the skin of the water like a shaft of light that breaks through cloud. The earth was awake and alive and amazed by every sensation it experienced.

Norris‘ characters feel alone. Sometimes because they don’t have anyone, other times because they can’t even talk freely with the people closest to them. They are afraid of living aimless lives, of not fulfilling their dreams. He manages to give them authentic, distinctive voices with which they analyze the wrong-turns and mistakes in their lives and the way (or wanted) their lives to go.

A story about life itself and the realization that none of us have it figured out.

// Deutsch

Ein Buch über das Normale. Nach einem Autounfall verfolgen wir fünf Charaktere die auf die eine oder andere Weise in diesen involviert waren. Normale Menschen, normale Stadt. Eine Gegend, in der alles still zu stehen scheint und in der es doch so viele kleine, bemerkenswerte Lebensgeschichten zu entdecken gibt.Natur und Menschen leben in einem komplexen Verhältnis miteinander und beeinflussen einander. Auf angenehm ruhige, poetische Art und in Stimmen, die zu den jeweiligen Charakteren passen erzählt Norris über große und kleine Themen des Lebens wie Liebe, Tod und Träume. Ein Buch über das Leben selbst und die Erkenntnis, dass niemand von uns so richtig damit umzugehen weiß.

Publishing: Doubleday | ISBN: 978-0-857-52372-3

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