Can it possibly matter that we allow two young people to imagine that they love one another when in two days’ time they will in any event be parted?
It is the summer of 1851 and Charlotte Morrison is on holiday in Germany with her brother and his wife. On the surface, Charlotte is an unmarried aunt with a sparse, unfulfilled life. But beneath that quiet respectability lie unsuspected depths hidden murmurings.
On a day trip boating down the Rhine, Charlotte sights a fellow traveller, Edward Newman, who releases the hissing floodwaters of her subconscious. Dark and dangerous, they sweep Charlotte towards the watershed of her life, stretching her imagination to its limit; almost to breaking point.
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1981, Ann Schlee’s evocative, heady novel creates an aura of tension that is as compelling as it is mysterious, forcing her characters to confront each other as well as themselves over one hot summer abroad.
‘I raced through Rhine Journey. Mrs Schlee’s simple and direct style makes for very easy reading. This is a first novel of considerable promise.’ Olivia Manning
‘A journey down the Rhine in the company of Ann Schlee is the purest, simplest pleasure.’ Sunday Telegraph
‘The quality of the writing is so extraordinarily high that I could hardly believe it was a first novel.’ Margaret Forster