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.