Wivenhoe Bookshop Magazine & Newsletter | Monday 25 September 2023

‘Wivenhoe’ – A New Novel by Samuel Fisher

‘Wivenhoe’ by Samuel Fisher 


Wivenhoe-born author and bookeller Sam Fisher’s extraordinary second novel, ‘Wivenhoe’ is a tender evocation of a place so familiar to us, with wide skies, the rolling river,  and gleaming mud. Yet the time is unfamiliar – an alternate present in a world that is slowly waking up to the fact that it is living through an environmental disaster.

About the Book

Never thought he would miss the mud: the gleaming, slickness of it. The slap and suck at the turning of the tide; its rich, bird-shit stink after a hot day and a couple of pints at the Rose. Or the green-blue-yellow hues that marked the changes in the light, as the days and seasons marched over the village and the river. And now, just snow. Endless snow.

A young man is found brutally murdered in the middle of the snowed-in village of Wivenhoe. Over his body stands another man, axe in hand. The gathered villagers must deal with the consequences of an act that no-one tried to stop.

WIVENHOE is a haunting novel set in an alternate present, in a world that is slowly waking up to the fact that it is living through an environmental disaster. Taking place over twenty-four hours and told through the voices of a mother and her adult son, we see how one small community reacts to social breakdown and isolation.

Samuel Fisher imagines a world, not unlike our own, struck down and on the edge of survival. Tense, poignant, and set against a dramatic landscape, WIVENHOE asks the question: if society as we know it is lost, what would we strive to save? At what point will we admit complicity in our own destruction?

About the Author

Wivenhoe-born Samuel Fisher’s debut novel, THE CHAMELEON, was recipient of a Betty Trask Award. His second novel, WIVENHOE, is published on 3rd Feb 2022.

Sam is co-owner of Burley Fisher Books and a director of Peninsula Press, a publisher of boundary pushing fiction and non-fiction, founded in 2017 by three booksellers and based in London.

Book Reviews

‘Wivenhoe explores the ways disasters make us both less and more ourselves. I was particularly moved by Fisher’s careful tallying of the small choices that are made within a family – the secret hurts and private allegiances. While it is a book about climate change, dystopias and all, it is at the root about love. I loved it.’
Rowan Hisayo Buchannan

‘There is so much to treasure in Wivenhoe – at once a loving evocation of place and the memorable characters who people it, and an unflinching examination of self-defeating survival strategies which threaten their very existence. In stunning, insightful, deeply humane prose, as daily rhythms dissolve into violence and resentment, Fisher indicts all of us yet still offers hope that we may change the ending of this story.’

Olivia Sudjic

‘A steady, sleek book that navigates the instincts we have about each other, those things we should have always known. Those things we should have always known about ourselves. Tension cuts between whispers and heart-shrieks. A series of rooms holding the quiet pain of abstracted memories. Snow binds yet removes people from each other. Ruminations into alternative lives, a sequence of people, all wondering what if?’
Tice Cin
‘Eerie and disorientating, visceral and elusive. I felt safe yet scared. Such skilful and sensory storytelling.’
Ashley Hickson-Lovence
‘Quiet, fable-like menace radiates from every page of Wivenhoe. Elegant and searching, it asks vital questions about what it means to be part of a community – about integrity, belonging, and how darkness can go unchecked when isolation and suspicion sets in – questions that now feel more relevant than ever.’
Sophie Mackintosh
‘A tender description of a Essex village which is quiet and familiar, with its wide skies and its community centre, but also very weird. There are desperate, dying people here, and polar bears prowling the outskirts. Fisher tells a story of lives lived under threat of destruction: the cruel competitions it sets up, and the ways in which human affection lasts. It’s a loving book.’
Daisy Hildyard