'To the River' is the story of the Ouse, the Sussex river which Virginia Woolf drowned in 1941. One midsummer week, over 60 years later, Olivia Laing walked Woolf's river from source to sea. The result is a passionate investigation into how history resides in a landscape and how ghosts never quite leave the places they love. To the River can be read in part as a biography of Woolf, refracted back through the river she loved. But other writers float through these pages too - among them Iris Murdoch, Shakespeare, Homer and Kenneth Grahame, author of the riverside classic The Wind in the Willows. The result is a wonderfully discursive read - which interweaves biography, history, nature writing and memoir, driven by Laing's deep understanding of science and cultural history. It's a beautiful, lyrical work that marks the arrival of a major new writer.