Water and Sky
by Neil Sentance

“A marvellous and haunting sequence . . . It is wonderful to read such experiment of voice, tone and vision”  Robert Macfarlane

“The lyricism of Sentance’s scenes of rural life is at times reminiscent of Ronald Blythe” Times Literary Supplement

“The river is a perfect wet and sinuous thread to tie this very engaging book together, as well as a perfect metaphor for its deeper yet subtle intentions.” Tim Dee

Author: Neil Sentance

Published: May 2014


In stock

Neil Sentance revisits his native Lincolnshire riverlands and fields, farms and market towns, to explore the history of his family and the landscape which shaped them. But this is not a lament for a lost world. Peopled by characters forgotten by history, it celebrates the countryside with a rare combination of lyricism and muddy realism.

Water and Sky collects together Neil Sentance’s ‘Scenes from the Waterside’, a sequence of essays which first appeared on the Caught by the River website between 2010 and 2013.

Water and Sky is an original and haunting blend of nature writing, memoir and historical fiction.


Co-published with Caught By the River
Foreword by Richard Benson
225 x 150mm hardback
80 pages
Illustrated by Jonathan Gibbs Jonathan Gibbs
ISBN 978-1-908213-23-5

Additional Information

Weight286 g
Dimensions12 x 162 x 229 mm


  1. Water and Sky Review by Sue O’Brien (Library Journal)

    Sentance’s collection of essays, a combination of family history, memoir, and natural history, originally appeared on the Caught by the River website between 2010 and 2013. Sharing the history of the lives of his relatives as well as his own experience, the author documents a vanishing milieu by chronicling the changes that have occurred in the Lincolnshire river lands surrounding the river Witham from 1919 to 1995. Providing details of everything from family members’ childhoods and his grandfather’s bonfires to exploring the family farm as a child and its sale when he was older, Sentance lyrically describes the landscape and the people who made their living in the area surrounding the river. VERDICT This slim, beautifully written book is a thought-provoking exploration of times past that will appeal to readers who want to learn about the history of this small section of England or are interested in how progress alters a community.

  2. Water and Sky Review By Yusef Sayed (Lincolnshire Life)

    In this evocative series of essays, which first appeared online, writer Neil Sentance combines family biography and psychogeography to retrace past steps and bring to life countryside sights and sounds from his Lincolnshire childhood. The detail Sentance recuperates in his poetic lines will undoubtedly feel familiar to many readers who shared the type of upbringing he recounts. He paints a vivid enough picture of his past surroundings in the county to interest those of a different generation too.

    Sentance draws out the contrasts between the busy communities of Lincolnshire in days gone by, the idyllic rural scenes that formed a backdrop to his youth, and the unceasing forward pull of the market and the conveniences of the modern world. It’s a personal memoir that takes the reader on a unique route through Lincolnshire’s past.

  3. James Canton Reviews Water & Sky

    The Lyricism of Sentance’s scenes of rural life is at times reminiscent of Ronald Blythe; the figures that step into these vignettes are etched with the same respectful and gritty elegance, their voices are quiet, tough and honest.

    In his forwards Richard Benson speaks of a “psychogeographic drift”, evident in this book, which sees the flâneur step beyond the confines of the city to weave a narrative of rural dérive, allowing the reader to meander through the sights and sounds of a local landscape.

    Water and Sky is a delightful little book and one hopes more will follow.

  4. In the book Neil Sentance explores his family history and the landscape in which they lived. Neil, who used to live in St Vincent’s Road and was a pupil at King’s School, said he his delighted with the book and feels very “humbled” that his writings have been published.

    Neil said: “I grew up in the town until the age of 12 and then we moved to Old Somerby. I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ farm in Foston. The Witham was a fixture that ran through my childhood.”

    Read the full interview with Neil in The Grantham Journal

  5. Tim Dee, the extremely talented author of The Running Sky and Four Fields, has written a glowing report of Neil Sentance’s Water and Sky, published by Little Toller and Caught by the River in June.

    “Neil Sentance’s vivid recall turns domestic folklore into something rich and potent,” he writes in the latest issue of Country Life. “Something of the atmosphere of Laurie Lee’s Cider with Rosie, crossed with the mood of Alain-Fournier’s Le Grand Meaulnes, steal into the writing but it remains its own thing … The river is a perfect wet and sinuous thread to tie this very engaging book together, as well as a perfect metaphor for its deeper yet subtle intentions. It would be difficult to over praise it, except that shouting loudly and enthusiastically would seem crass in its company and counter to its lovely mellow, yet unsentimental tone that lights it from within.”

    Reviews do not get any better than this! Well done Neil.

    Download the full review by Tim Dee

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