Ackroyd’s Thames – Sacred River is a bit of a doorstop at over 400 large sized dense pages. How does he manage it? I read London a couple of years ago and it’s very similar:
I suppose Thames is really a great book to dip into if you are interested in the river, planning on travelling there, or interested in British culture and history. At times the details are a bit excessive – the chapter on bridges for instance listing every bridge from source to sea in mind numbing and at times numerical detail. There were quite a lot of times, reading the whole thing at once, when I felt a more sensible reader would have skipped, or registered sections as for later use.
Nevertheless there are many parts that are quite fascinating, grim and brought to life with energy and imagination: sections on dreams and legends of the river, and others on crime and the work done along the river particularly. The sections on the river and culture – art, music and literature – also stood out.
The final pages of Thames give a detailed summary of the historical connections to each town, along with explanations and comments on the etymology, and these are interesting as well as a useful point of reference.
I know this is a brief review: when I finished the book I was exhausted!