The Frozen Thames

The Frozen Thames

Book - 2007
Average Rating:
Rate this:
A groundbreaking, genre-bending new work from one of Canada's most respected writers. In its long history, the River Thames has frozen solid forty times. These are the stories of that frozen river. And so opens one of the most breathtaking and original works being published this season. The Frozen Thames contains forty vignettes based on events that actually took place each time the river froze between 1142 and 1895. Like a photograph captures a moment, etching it forever on the consciousness, so does Humphreys' achingly beautiful prose. She deftly draws us into these intimate moments, transporting us through time so that we believe ourselves observers of the events portrayed. Whether it's Queen Matilda trying to escape her besieged castle in a snowstorm, or lovers meeting on the frozen river in the plague years; whether it's a simple farmer persuading his oxen the ice is safe, or Queen Bess discovering the rare privacy afforded by the ice-covered Thames, the moments are fleeting and transformative for the characters -- and for us, too. Stunningly designed and illustrated throughout with full-colour period art, The Frozen Thames is a triumph.
Publisher: Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, c2007.
ISBN: 9780771041440
Branch Call Number: HUMPH
Characteristics: 186 p. : col. ill.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
SCL_Angela Mar 29, 2019

I only discovered Helen Humphreys about a year ago, and she has quickly become one of my favorite writers. And of all her books I've read so far, Frozen Thames is my favorite. This series of vignettes are beautifully written and the structure of the book is brilliant.

Oct 02, 2018

During historical times, it was not unusual for the Thames to freeze over even though this hasn't happened during the time of recent memory. This book beckons you to investigate those rare occasions when ice bound the river. This is a book, not so much of short stories, the stories are entirely to brief to be considered that, but rather it is a book of brief vignettes. In fact, the book too, is brief --- only about half as tall as is usual. It represents history made brief. And yet, well worth a read.

Sep 22, 2017

I enjoyed this book very much. The writing is good and maybe that's why the author is able to take us back in time so we can see (imagine) what it was like to live in such a cold world!
Thanks to Helen Humphreys!

Dec 06, 2015

The work is a collection of fictional short stories that, while a good read, are not accurate as to dates or particulars.

Mar 25, 2015

The first story in this collection is one of my all-time favourites; it has a magic to it that even my seven-year-old son appreciated.

Mar 23, 2015

Humphreys says this is" a long meditation on the nature of ice" but not as you might think. There are no explanations, no maps, no scientific authorities quoted to explain the freezing of the Thames, and the great thaws that followed. These very short snapshots of stories barely four or five pages are about the changeableness of it. It begins as water, becomes ice, changes again, and can even become airborne. Such is the nature of humanity and its various ways of dealing with the world. The forty little vignettes are taken from accounts, some contemporary, of the forty times the Thames has frozen over, and are presented in such evocative language you can imagine the scene vividly. Some stories, of course, are more successful that others, but each will leave you shivering. Read this with the fire going and your coziest quilt wrapped around you.

WVMLStaffPicks Feb 01, 2015

With Global Warming the hot topic these days Helen Humphreys chooses to write about when the Thames has frozen over. Starting in 1142 and going to 1895 she tells of what it was like having the Thames freeze over by people who were living on or near the Thames. She chronicles daily life in short vignettes. Her research is based on actual events.

Nov 01, 2014

Interesting if you like English historical writing.

Jul 31, 2013

Suspend your belief as you read of stories, true or not, about the forty times the river Thames has frozen solid. Each tale may bring about happiness or tragedy as people come to see the miracle of ice. Each time new perspectives are magically drawn by an author who is at her best in these gems.

Jan 25, 2013

Beautiful vignettes. My husband and I read a number of these stories over our breakfasts one weekend. A great winter read. Will probably buy a copy for the home library.

View All Comments


Add a Quote
Aug 15, 2017

It was strange not to see animals about. Even in the bustle of London there have always been cats and dogs. But the King has ordered all the dogs and cats within the city to be destroyed, as he fears that they are responsible for carrying the plague.

Aug 15, 2017

The thaw of the Thames goes just as badly as the freeze. It comes fierce and sudden, huge slabs of ice crashing through the arches of London Bridge, damaging the bridge and carrying away portions of the Frost Fair. Booths and huts, upright and unmanned on their ice floes, hurtle downstream, some with their signs still attached to the front of the structure. It is as though the people of London need reminding that the river is a wild thing and this cannot be forgotten because, if it is, the Thames will simply arch its back and throw anything off that tries to tame it.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Related Authors


Subject Headings

No similar edition of this title was found at OPL.

Try searching for The Frozen Thames to see if OPL owns related versions of the work.

To Top