The River Wife


Ughhhh. You guys! I love book covers. I will often times buy a book because the cover intrigued me, and this is very likely one of those times. I just really like this cover.

Y’all. This book is a loooooong read. Not length-wise, it’s only 393 pages, but just in the amount of effort it takes to get through it. It’s sort of in the same vein as the last book I reviewed in that it is based in a time before now and historical things happen during the story, which is always cool. This particular book spans 1811 to the 1950s and takes place in the Ozarks. It also does this interesting thing where we have one character who gives us the story – Hedie – and she tells it to us in first person. The rest of the characters’ lives are described in third person.

This book begins really quickly, with the Great New Madrid Earthquake and its disastrous results on Annie Lark, who’s family abandons her to her death. Literally, her dad is a super butthole who gives her a crappy blanket and leaves with not even as much as a “peace out”. I hate that guy and he’s around for about three sentences.

At the risk of spoiling it for you, Annie does not get dead and is instead saved by Jacques Ducharme, and with him we are introduced to the driving point of this story. Even though this story follows the women of the Ducharme family and is apparently about them, without Jacques it does not exist.

The reason I said this book was long is mainly because of the writing and sentence structure. The sentences are paragraphs. If you think I’m joking, here:

There was a small window in the wall to her right, and as she lay there waiting for the Beasts of the Apocalypse to devour her, the waters of the damned to swirl about and swallow her, the mighty breath of God Himself to blow her into pieces that would never see salvation, she saw the distant fires devouring houses, heard the unnatural roar and rush as trees along the riverbank collapsed taking great chunks of earth with them, felt the wet hot air escaping from hell itself as the seams of the earth split and the damned cried forth, their breath the foul hissing steam that invaded the world.

Y’ALL. What is that. I don’t want it.

Don’t get me wrong, I like this story. It’s a good story. Some of the characters are likable. My favorites are probably Annie Lark and Little Maddie. However, I did feel like it was very odd that the women stayed around in these really awful conditions. There’s lots of hardship and wonderful little details of the simple act of living during these times. The book takes us through the civil war and the great depression and we meet a whole bushel of people who seem real enough, but the result is an almost mangled story line that takes attention to detail to follow.

I do like this book. I know I sound repetitive, but I really do think the story is good, and although I find some of the sentences desperately need culling, the writing style is intriguing and there are enough interesting things happening to keep the reader enthralled. Also the name Hedie made me think of Hedy Lamarr

a very interesting lady in her own right

which of course made me think of Hedley Lamarr which made me think of


which is a movie you should definitely watch because I love it and also it is hilarious.

My favorite sentence:

We have so little that isn’t too fragile to bear our living.

Would I recommend this book? Yes. With the caveat that if you are not into the historical fiction-y genre it might not be worth it to you. It is a bit time consuming to read, and if you have no interest in the actual story I bet you won’t like it.

Would I read this book again? Maybe not on purpose. Like The Outlander, I’ve read this book at least three times now. What I will do is put it back on my bookshelf and let it sit there for a sufficient enough time that it becomes intriguing to me again.

Are you interested in purchasing this book? If so, and if you like Amazon and also like me maybe you’ll buy it from here!

for next week:


by Ellen Airgood

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