Good Reading : July 2015
GOOD READING JULY 2015 61 The Fish Ladder Katharine Norbury Grieving the miscarr iage of her second child, and inspired by the plot of an old Scottish novel, Katharine Norbury proposes a holiday project to her nine-year-old daughter: that they follow a river from the sea to its source. Although this sounds simple enough, the journey ultimately leads Norbury to seek the source of her own life: the mother who gave her up for adoption when she was a newborn. Although very much a memoir, The Fish Ladder is more literary than you might expect. Norbury weaves history, mythology, poetry and music into her narrative as she explores British watercourses while reflecting on the events that have led her to the present moment. In this, her first book, Norbury lays bare her emotional self as she shares her most personal, and often darkest, moments. The passages recounting the death of her beloved adoptive father and the deep depression it triggered are particularly moving. But it is the expression ‘charity status’ that Norbury uses almost offhandedly when referring to her adoption that reveals her self-perception as an outsider; it adds poignancy to the circumstances that lead her to seek out her birth family and to the surprising response that her search elicits. Norbury’s writing style – poetic and at times dreamlike – is enchanting, original, and amply rewards the unhurried reader. I look forward to more of her work. ★★★ Bloomsbury Circus $29.99 Reviewed by Heather Lunney Meet Me in Atlantis: My obsessive quest to find the sunken city Mark Adams Mark Adams, the author of Turn Right at Machu Picchu, takes the reader from New York to Ireland, Morocco and Egypt, and on to ancient histor ic cities around the Mediterranean in his search for the truth – if there is any – behind the legend of Atlantis, the famous sunken city. He also searches for an answer to the burning question: did it ever exist? While he was compiling a list of the greatest philosophers of all time, Adams discovered that the Greek philosopher Plato was the source of the Atlantis myth. By using precise details, such as measurements, landmarks and reputable historical mater ial, Plato made the story seem real and believable. So began Adams’s elaborate quest for truth. Surprisingly, a host of fascinating experts and amateurs are still searching for Atlantis, including archaeologists, anthropologists, philologists, a NASA scientist, a politician, deep-sea divers such as Jacques Cousteau, historians, psychics, mystics, together with seismologists, tourist guides and mathematicians. Adams wanted to find out why so many were trying to solve the mystery. Meet Me in Atlantis is like a detective story that tries to assemble all the evidence in one place, but it’s also a travelogue and a comprehensive history. Is Plato’s Atlantis distorted historical truth? Or entirely fiction? Adams concludes that Plato’s story was probably fiction based on some true events. Exploring those events – natural catastrophes, cosmic impacts, wars and the redevelopment of civilisations – makes an informative and engrossing read. ★★★★ Text $32.99 Reviewed by Judith Grace GENERAL NON-FICTION WOM word of mouth RATINGS ★ ★ ★★ ★★ ★★★ ★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ RG About the author The journeys undertaken by Katharine Norbury in this book were inspired by the writings of Neil Gunn (1891–1973), a Scottish writer recommended to her by nature writer Robert Macfarlane.