Running Water

Read by Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)

(4.6 stars; 124 reviews)

Although A.E.W. Mason is best known for The Four Feathers, an adventure novel of 1902 set in Egypt and the Sudan (and filmed several times), he was a prolific and popular writer of the period. Running Water, published in 1907, is, like its predecessor, a tale of romantic adventure. Though much of the story takes place in England, the real setting here is in the high Alps, in the range of Mont Blanc near Chamonix and Courmayeur. Here it is that Captain Hilary Chayne arrives, having spent the prior four years of his army service on the shores of the Red Sea, dreaming all the time of his return to the Alps, to the world of rock, ice, and snow, to mountaineering with all its challenges and joys, and to its comradeship. And here it is too that he meets the young and beautiful Sylvia Thesiger, a girl already in love with the high mountains, and seeking in them an escape, as far as possible, from her unpleasant and domineering mother.
Is it necessary to add that disappointments. problems, misunderstandings, and outright villainies, ensue to complicate the course of true love? After the twists and turns of novel's English midsection, the setting shifts back to the high Alps, and the final, climactic scene is played out on the heights of the Italian face of the Mont Blanc. This is the Brenva -- where thousands of feet of rock and glacier sweep steeply up to reach the highest point in western Europe. It is an Alpine route that today, over century later, even experienced climbers still find a challenge.
There are not many novels given over to mountaineering, and some consider Mason's descriptions of climbing among the finest in fiction. Unlike The Four Feathers, Running Water has never been filmed – though given the quality of some of Hollywood's mountaineering movies, that may actually be a blessing.
Finally, for those unfamiliar with the teminology, several French terms are customarily used by alpinists and appear in Mason's book. An aiguille (needle) is a peak, usually sharp pointed, often of rock, sometimes of ice and snow. The Chamonix aiguilles, many of which are mentioned here, are famous among climbers and lovers of alpine scenery. A col is a pass between two mountains, or ranges, and in the High Alps often of steep ice and snow, sometimes of rock. And an arête is a ridge, or spur, of a mountain, sometimes of ice or snow, sometimes of rock, and often of all three.
Historical note: The first ascent of the Brenva face was made by A.W. Moore and a party of three other British climbers and two Swiss alpine guides, in July, 1865. The account was published in Moore's book, The Alps in 1864, and it is this book that Garratt Skinner is reading in Chapter XII, as he lies in his Dorsetshire hammock. In 1943, another great British climber, T. Graham Brown published his Brenva, describing the various routes on the great southern face, on two of which had had made first ascents. Brown credits Running Water as first turning his attention to the face, and has high praise for its descriptions of mountaineering. (The second ascent for the Brenva route was made by W.A.P. Coolidge and others in 1870).
A further note: in Chapter XIII, Mason twice refers to Switzerland when he means France. Perhaps he was dozing; or perhaps he was drawing some of his material from Baedeker's Guide to Switzerland, whose earlier editions included the range of Mont Blanc, a chain shared by France, Italy, and Switzerland. (8 hr 37 min)


01 - Shows Mrs. Thesiger in Her Home 16:00 Read by Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
02 - Introduces one of Strood\'s Successors 21:00 Read by Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
03 - The Finding of John Lattery 19:30 Read by Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
04 - Mr. Jarvice 16:09 Read by Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
05 - Michel Revailloud Expounds His Philosophy 20:20 Read by Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
06 - The Pavillon de Lognan 17:27 Read by Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
07 - The Aiguille de l\'Argentière 25:55 Read by Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
08 - Sylvia Parts From Her Mother 15:50 Read by Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
09 - Sylvia Makes the Acquaintance of Her Father 21:46 Read by Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
10 - A Little Round Game of Cards 17:07 Read by Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
11 - Sylvia\'s Father Makes a Mistake 17:59 Read by Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
12 - The House of the Running Water 24:20 Read by Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
13 - Chayne Returns 20:50 Read by Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
14 - An Old Passion Betrays a New Secret 17:23 Read by Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
15 - Kenyon\'s John Lattery 18:00 Read by Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
16 - As Between Gentlemen 20:13 Read by Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
17 - Sylvia Tells More Than She Knows 20:45 Read by Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
18 - Both Sides of the Question 16:54 Read by Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
19 - The Shadow in the Room 13:11 Read by Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
20 - On the Down 18:13 Read by Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
21 - Chayne Comes to Conclusions 30:28 Read by Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
22 - Revailloud Revisited 16:11 Read by Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
23 - Michel Revailloud\'s Führbuch 22:42 Read by Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
24 - The Brenva Ridge 26:08 Read by Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
25 - A Night on an Ice-Slope 23:46 Read by Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
26 - Running Water 19:31 Read by Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)



(4.5 stars)

Why HASN'T someone made this into a movie? It would be terrific. I only took off half a star because the author left out a couple of plot points: how did Skinner end up in prison, and exactly how many times has Sylvia's mother left a husband behind? A delicious listening experience...

Exciting but Unfinished

(3.5 stars)

It started out great with a fantastic female lead! I felt really dissatisfied with where the author took her character arc though. It was exciting and I binge-listened but there were a few significant plot points that the author didn't answer for us! What had Sylvia's father done that was so horrible that made him who he was? I will leave out the details so as not to spoil it for anyone. Definitely some important gaps left out. Aside from those I enjoyed it and the reader did a great job!

Loved it

(5 stars)

Yes, one of the characters is a very gullible person, and another wants to see the best in people and so is a bit blinded to the situation. But it's not at all implausible. We're seeing it from an omniscient viewpoint. A very good book. The beginning and end are in the Alps, but the middle is set in England, so don't think it's all about mountain climbing. It's a mystery/romance story, with some adventure thrown in. I enjoyed the ending - that's all I'll say about it. Reader is excellent.

Excellent Climbing tale

(5 stars)

This book would get 5 stars just for the climbing passages. It is as if we are there in the Alps, experiencing our first ascent . . . fantastic! The reader is excellent and the rest of the story is enjoyable as well.

(4 stars)

very Dynamic book. I got lost in the middle a little bit it got a little disjointed for me. But the end was worth it to some degree. I'm still not quite sure what running water has to do with this.

Excellent Story!

(5 stars)

This book is not your typical love story. It has a much more interesting plot which holds one interest to the very end. Of course, Mr. Clifford puts his heart and wonderful voice into this book. Great read!

Vivid and Very Well Written

(5 stars)

Skip this if you're afraid of heights. Excellent detailed descriptions of Alpine climbs combined with a mostly believable love story, read by one of the best.

Excellent Reading

(4 stars)

Story is engaging but ends abruptly with many unexplained leads. There is nothing remarkable but the tales of mountaineering. One can listen to it to pass time.