Saturday, November 3, 2007

The River Wife

Her narrow iron bed, with its lovely white scrollwork--a luxury somehow accorded a girl of sixteen though her father was against it from the beginning--slid back and forth behind the partition as if they were on the river, the roar so loud it was like a thousand beasts from the apocalypse set loose upon the land, just as her father had predicted.

Annie Lark is trapped between her bed and a beam when an earthquake and flood strike her family's Missouri home. When she has given up hope of rescue, French trapper Jacques Ducharmer rescues and falls in love with her. This is the first of many marriages discussed in The River Wife.

Though a story spanning generations could become more of a listing of family history and less so an interesting novel, there is little danger of that here. There are a lot of characters of which to keep track, but the crucial characters are absolutely unforgettable. From dogfighting to piracy to elaborate deceptions to death after death after death...
The majority of the book is set up almost as a journal which the final wife in the tale, Hedi Rails Ducharme, is reading on the nights when her husband is gone on mysterious business. This organization was the only part of the book I found weak; I think I would have enjoyed it more without the flipping back and forth from the 1930s to the 1800's. Otherwise, very exciting book bordering on disturbing.

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