Follow the River
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Follow the River

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  9,949 ratings  ·  1,527 reviews
Mary Ingles was twenty-three, married, and pregnant, when Shawnee Indians invaded her peaceful Virginia settlement, killed the men and women, then took her captive. For months, she lived with them, unbroken, until she escaped, and followed a thousand mile trail to freedom--an extraordinary story of a pioneer woman who risked her life to return to her people.
Paperback, 406 pages
Published November 12th 1986 by Ballantine Books (first published 1981)
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Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur GoldenGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellThe Pillars of the Earth by Ken FollettThe Book Thief by Markus ZusakThe Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
Best Historical Fiction
176th out of 4,084 books — 17,526 voters
Josiah Stubb by C.W. LovattThese Is My Words by Nancy E. TurnerFollow the River by James Alexander ThomYear of Wonders by Geraldine  BrooksChristy by Catherine Marshall
The Unknown, Hidden Gems Of Historical Fiction
3rd out of 687 books — 577 voters

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Anne Stevens
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sunday, July 8, 1755, Draper's Meadow, Virginia. The Shawnee Indians launch a surprise attack on the settlement, killing most, but taking some prisoners, including a very pregnant Mary Draper Ingles and her two young sons. The captives are taken on a long journey to Shawnee Town, where they are somewhat assimilated into the community, Mary is sold as a slave and her sons are *adopted* by one of the Indian chiefs. Mary rebels at being another man's slave and yearns to escape and return home to he...more
Beth Ericksen
This is one of the best books I've ever read. I read it once when I was a young teen, and again last year as an adult. The book stayed with me all these years. It's a true story about a young woman during the French and Indian War who witnesses much of her family and village massacred and then is taken by Indians. Her husband, who is working in the fields, witnesses everything but is unable to stop it. With her two young sons, who were spared, and a baby due any day, she travels hundreds of mile...more
It's gruesome at times, but such a powerful, realistic retelling of an incredible, true story. It really moved me and I'm sure I will read it again. Mary Ingles is one of my heroes now!
I happened upon this book through the band in which I play. One of the songs we perform (written by one of my bandmates) was inspired by this book, which tells of the story of Mary Ingles (no relation to Laura Ingalls Wilder), who was kidnapped, along with her children, in a Shawnee indian raid on her village in Virginia in the late 1700's. She was taken to an area of Kentucky near Cincinatti, and, along with a Dutch woman named Gretel, escaped the Indian encampment (leaving her son and newly bo...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
3 1/2 stars, really

The most amazing thing about this story is that it really happened. In 1755, Mary Ingles was captured by the Shawnee and taken to Ohio or thereabouts. After a couple of months, she escaped along with an old Dutch woman. With winter coming on and virtually no food/clothing/shoes, they made their way over very difficult terrain back to Virginia, where Mary was reunited with her husband. They traveled about 1,000 miles.
The only thing I couldn't figure out was how she managed this...more
Maybe one star is a bit harsh. But I would not read this book again, unless I was abducted by Indians and they were threatening to burn me at the stake. Mary Ingles' story is compelling - knowing that it was based on a true story made it hard to put down, but I kept hoping Mary would get a moment of peace somewhere along the way. She didn't. It was suffering, suffering, and yet more gruesome suffering. I think I need three or four straight happy novels to get over it. It does have a happy ending...more
May 20, 2012 JaNel rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: novel
This book needed a lot of editing. It was repetitious and monotonous. Her voice did not seem very genuine. It's kind of hard to explain, but sometimes it just didn't seem like a woman's point of view. For example, she rarely/never? talked about the emotional relationship with her husband. Instead, even when she was starving and fighting exposure and exhaustion in the extreme, every time she thought of her husband, it was sexual. The way she immediately started fantasizing about Chief Wildcat was...more
I didn't finish this book. When I finally decided to put it down I just bawled like a baby. The author, in the first chapter, writes a descriptive scene of a baby being tossed around while an Indian in the middle tries to chop it with his ax, in the end, the Indian succeeds. If that wasn't bad enough, The main character lets her three children, including three week old baby be taken in by the culture of the Indians. As a mother who has lost a child, I found this extremely unrealistic and upsetti...more
I read this book from a recommendation of a book club and friend. Mary is a mother and is kidnapped
by Native Americans when whites were settling the West. It is a true story of a woman that truly survived what no human should ever have to survive. I wish I would have passed on this book because it seriously gave me nightmares. It was an amazing story of survival, I am pretty sure I would have died if put in that situation. I still get scary feelings (those of you have read it will understand),...more
This was FANTASTC!! I stayed up to 3:30 am to finish it last night. Could not stop reading. I have a thing for this time period so I really liked it. What made it even better for me was that it was a true story. Unbelievable what the heroine went through.
Jul 14, 2008 Maggie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Maggie by: Brandy
Shelves: contemporary, 2008
Intense, and not for the faint of heart.
This book frustrated me- Although it is based on a true story, it is clearly written by a man. ..... There was and extreme lack of womanly/motherly emotion described in events that would more than evoke such feelings from the main character, and it left her(in my eyes) less realistic and relateable(despite the fact this really did happen)........My mother made me read this one, and although it got off to a decent start, I lost interest and desire to continue reading by about page 175, and felt a...more
I listened to “Follow the River” by James Alexander Thom with my husband. We were both fascinated by this fictitious account of the kidnapping of Mary Draper Ingles by Shawnee Indians in 1755. Living in Draper’s Meadow, Virginia, Mary, possibly pregnant at the time, her two sons, Thomas (4) and George (2), and her sister-in-law Betty, and a male neighbor were ambushed and taken captive. Mary gave birth to a daughter as the Shawnees traveled with the captives along the Ohio River finally coming t...more
♥ Marlene♥

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What a great read and so unexpected. Never heard of this author before.
First of all I did not know what this book was about so did not know it was based on a true story.

So to me this book could have had many different scenarios and outcomes and I think that was why it was such a great read for me.

Yes it is cruel but so were the days back then and by the way read some true crime and you know people are still as cruel probably more so now.

There were a lot of scenarios in my mind thank...more
Amazingly based on a true character and events, this is the harrowing story of Mary Ingels who is kidnapped by the Shawnee along with her children and is forced to undertake a perilous journey through unchartered wildnerness to reach home.

It's is compelling reading in parts and the violence and grittiness of the times is well portrayed. Much of the heartache that Mary endured as a wife and mother wasn't adequately described. However her bravery and fortitude shone through.
I wish I had been warned about the first chapter. As a mother with children about the same age as Mary's, it was one of the most difficult things to read. I give this book four stars, because page after page of hunger, cold, and physical pain, became a bit tedious, so I skimmed through the last part. I wish that the author had spent more time on her adjustment back into her community and with her husband. Mary's story is remarkable, however, and definitely worth reading!
Beth Crawford
This book is based on an incredible true story. I couldn't put it down!
This novel is based on the true story of Mary Ingles, a young frontier woman living in western Virginia in the 1750s at the onset of the French and Indian War. Their settlement was at the far fringes of colonial development and vulnerable to attack from the Shawnee Indians. Many in her settlement were massacred, but Mary, very pregnant and about to give birth, her sister-in-law, her two young sons and another man from the community were kidnapped and taken deep into Shawnee territory well beyon...more
Wow. What can I say that won't diminish the impact of this story? Anything I write will just come out trite. I am so glad to have read the account of such a heroic, admirable woman.

As I read, I reflected on the instinct of survival that tends to emerge in some when they are faced with horrific challenges. The Holocaust came to mind. Why do some fight death and some give in or aquiesce? Mary Ingles dug deeper within herself than can be imagined. I would not have dreamed up this story as a possibi...more
Harold Titus
I chose to read "Follow the River" by James Alexander Thom not so much to be entertained and inspired by the story of Mary Ingles’s escape in 1755 from Indian captivity and her torturous return from the Ohio River to her family’s frontier settlement west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I had read about her ordeal, it being a true story, years ago. I wanted to see how Thom dealt with what I anticipated would be two major difficulties: description of her surroundings and portrayal of her thoughts and...more
Elizabeth Aldape
This book was tragically beautiful. I felt so much pain for Mary and her other captives and almost couldn't bear the killing/burning scenes. Her decision to leave her children left me questioning what I would do. Would I have not looked at my newborn's face so I wouldn't create an attachment and could leave her behind? Would I have sacrificed my freedom and life to be with my children instead? Who knows. The journey home was beautiful, treacherous, and long, which describes how it felt to read i...more
What a story! This was a great book and what makes it even more so is that's based on the true story of Mary Ingles who was a frontier woman living in Virgina in 1755. Mary who was pregnant along with her two young sons, sister-in-law and a neighbor man are taken captive by Shawnee Indians after a horrific raid on their settlement leaving death and distruction. This is the story of Mary's strength, courage and her will to survive as well as the love for her husband as she struggles to return to...more
Oct 16, 2007 Buffer rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: historical fiction fans
Based on the true story of Mary Draper Ingles from a early Virginia settlement in 1755. The settlement she lives in is attacked by Indians and she is taken hostage along with her two sons and sister in law.
An amazing story of true love, courage and sheer determination. She escapes the Indians and walks over 600 miles back to "her people" in early winter.
Some of the scenes where the Indians are attacking are horrific and almost make you sick. If you can get past that a little you are in for a...more
Read this for book club, so I plowed through it so I could have it finished by tomorrow night. Well, all I can say is WOW! I am exhausted from reading it. I couldn't put it down, but I also didn't want to pick it up. It is a very detailed description to a horrible nightmare. Once you get started on her journey home, you don't want to put the book down because you want her to get home so badly. I just hope we can read something uplifting and fun for book club soon!

I feel humbled by Mary Ingles' story. It is truly amazing. There were parts of the book I felt could have been shorter and almost gave it four stars because of that, but then I worried that somewhere out in the cosmos it would offend Mary Ingles....;). This story is truth that is more unbelievable than fiction. Fantastic.
 ~☆ Alice♥♥
This book was like torture to read as he describes how very hungry the got on their journey back. However, I could NOT stop reading as much as I wanted to do so.

We just watched the movie and it is also very good. I would like to walk part the trail sometime. Some reinact the whole journey I have heard.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This book is haunting and intense, often gruesome. It made me cringe through much of it and admire frontier women through all of it. This book is a docu/drama, where the story is based on truth, but much of the individual moments are fictionalized and filled in. Mary Ingles (do not confuse this book with the Ingall in Little House on the Prairie) was a pregnant pioneer woman settling Virginia with her husband and family. Her settlement was brutally attacked by members of the Shawnee tribe and sh...more
This book was such a paradox to me in so many ways:

*It was so hard to dive into because of the difficult circumstances that surround the plot, yet
*It was so easy to dive into because the story is amazing and fascinating.

*I had a hard time wanting to start reading because it was so hard for me to read about what the main character had to go through, yet
*After I started reading, it was hard to put it down because it is so well written (I read the last 200 pages in one setting). Even though the cir...more
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Follow the River 10 88 Jan 03, 2014 03:19PM  
Appropriate for children? 2 15 Oct 22, 2013 01:27AM  
do you think you could do it? 9 31 Jun 10, 2013 06:03AM  
LIVING WHILE THE WEST WAS WON 5 38 Jul 03, 2011 08:17PM  
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James Alexander Thom (born 1933) is an American author, most famous for his works in the Western genre. Born in Gosport, Indiana, he graduated from Butler University and served in the United States Marine Corps. He is a former professor of journalism at Indiana University, and a contributor to the The Saturday Evening Post. His fifth wife, Dark Rain Thom was a member of the Shawnee United Remnant...more
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