In the summer of 1958 two children are drowned while they play in a boat on a Devon river. Their parents, Isabel and Robert, are bound together in guilt and anger, and as years pass the tragedy becomes part of the invisible fabric of village life. Thirty years later Anna comes to the village, escaping city life and her own disappointments. She does not tell Isabel she is pregnant.
For a time the women find comfort in each other, but the baby's arrival opens old wounds. As Anna uncovers the secrets of the past, she is inexorably drawn into the conflict in which Isabel and Robert have been locked for three decades.
'The River' is a lyrical, hypnotically readable novel about families, old secrets and loss. Peopled by a large cast of beautifully rendered characters, it is a portrait of a community and the landscape in which they live - a haunting tale of betrayal, failure, love and fortitude.