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The River Wife

3.37 of 5 stars 3.37  ·  rating details  ·  1,318 ratings  ·  280 reviews
In 1811, moments after a devastating earthquake, French fur trapper Jacques Ducharme rescues Annie Lark from the ruins of her family home on the shores of Mississippi. While Jacques nurses her back to health, Annie learns to love the strong, brooding man and becomes his "River Wife."

More than a century later, in 1930, Hedie Rails comes to Jacques' Landing to marry Clement
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Paperback, 408 pages
Published May 27th 2008 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,268)
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Margitte
This will probably be the lamest review of a book I have ever written. The reason is that it was so brilliantly constructed: characters, plot, historical detail, drama, suspense, you name it, that trying to sing the praise of this tale in multiple adjectives or superlatives will simply, as well as undeservedly, cheapen this rich story around the Ducharme family of Mississippi.

The masterful prose in the book, describing the women in one man's life and ambitions, felt like becoming part of ancien
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Dona
An actual line from this novel reads, "He pulled her down on top of him and surprised her with his ferocious lovemaking, the monster out of its cave once again." If that kind of writing isn't enough to deter you, perhaps the ludicrous melodrama will. Someone dies, is born, maimed or murdered on every page, except for ten extra-excruciating pages near the beginning of the book when Annie Lark lies trapped for five days under wooden beams during the New Madrid Shaking. (Yet, miraculously, she is s ...more
Debbie
Intoxicating. Spellbinding.

This is the spellbinding tale or should I say haunting saga of the Ducharme family. From cover to cover author Jonis Agee spins a story spanning from 1811 to 1950 filled with mystery, greed, desire as history repeats it self again and again through the lives of the cursed Ducharme family.

This book was so good I couldn't put it down for even a moment. I didn't desire to rush but to take my time and enjoy every moment as the past wove it's way into the present and then
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Emily
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rebecca
eh. i didn't totally dislike this book, but it was one of those situations where i wasn't quite sure why i kept going ("falling angels" by tracy chevalier, anyone?)... my main complaint is that i found it to be kind of contrived. as in, i could literally feel the author trying so hard to get to a certain point that she decided the best way to do that was to hit the reader over the head with big flashing arrows that all but shouted "see? do you see? A is why B happened!! did you see how i gave yo ...more
Ariela
On February 7, 1812 the New Madrid earthquake – the largest quake ever recorded in the United States – hit Annie Lark’s Missouri house, trapping her beneath a roof beam. Unable to move the massive timber and terrified by the aftershocks, her family decides to leave the sixteen year old girl to her fate, but death is slow coming and she lingers until a French fur trapper named, Jacques Ducharme, rescues her days later. What follows is the story of Annie’s life as Jacques’ “river wife,” which Jacq ...more
Jia
Oct 26, 2007 Jia rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who like historical romance with a modern kick
Shelves: literary-fiction
Only a master storyteller can spin a tale so intricate that you willingly succumb to its sticky web, and Jonis Agee has accomplished this feat with her first foray into historical fiction – The River Wife. The Nebraska native is the Adele Hall Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and it was her childhood memories of summering near the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri that inspired her to create a vivid three-dimensional world of brazen, complicated, cursed and beautiful wome ...more
Susan
More and more, it seems that authors feel they have to tell multiple stories in one book. They also feel that jumping back and forth in time, telling a historical tale along with a contemporary one will help acheive their end.Well, guess what? It rarely works. In The River Wife, we jump from the story of a teen-aged bride back to a tale of her husband's grandfather and back again. The (historical) story of Jacques Ducharme, and the town he founded was interesting, fun fiction. That of Hedie was ...more
Chana
Arkansas history (and I'm not sure how much of it actually adheres to historical truth or is just good storytelling) and 5 generations of the Ducharme family. It is a great love story of Annie Lark and Jacques Ducharme and their descendants, the development of their land, piracy on the river, slaves or not, the Civil War, betrayals and loyalties of all kinds, farming, trapping, dogs and men, women and children. And through it all Jacques Ducharme and Annie Lark. Jacques is a character to love an ...more
Shannon
Feb 12, 2008 Shannon rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shannon by: Aimee
This was a good book that started really strong and finished somewhat weaker. Even with the slow finish, the story was fascinating and I liked the multiple generation storyline. It didn't answer all of my questions, but I think ultimately I like that as well because it's nice to not have everything laid out for you.
Wendy
This was an interesting story spanning several generations. At first, I thought it was the story of 2 women, Annie Lark Ducharme and Hedie Rails Ducharme. Annie lived during the Civil War era and Hedie was from the Prohibition era. When a 17 year old pregnant Hedie married the much older Clement Ducharme and came to live in the Ducharme house, she discovered Annie's journals and began reading them. At that point, the reader is introduced to Annie.

Annie's story begins with her as a teenager, left
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Yna Fempia Paez
The story as a whole is taken from the accounts of the women in the life of Jacques Ducharme namely Annie Lark Ducharme, Omah Ducharme, Laura Burke Shut Ducharme and Little Maddie Ducharme which also intertwines with that of Hedie Rails Ducharme, wife of Jacques' descendant Clement Ducharme.

The story I found incredibly fascinating and terribly heartbreaking. Reviewing it in detail without spoilers is impossible and I do not intend to hide this review for that matter.

The main flashback story star
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Angel
Jonis Agee has a very smooth writing style that kept me hooked from start to finish. I really enjoyed the "Roundtable" discussion at the end too. It provided a lot of insight into each person's mind. I wish every book had a roundtable discussion. The real love story was in the beginning with Jacques and Annie - before they started acquiring all the land, money, and things. Jacques was a real gentleman and loyal friend. I think in order to protect his heart he made a "deal" to keep him from suffe ...more
Jenni
I like the WAY Jonis Agee writes, but I did not care much for this story. I don't like hopeless, depressing stories very much, and this one made me want to go lay in a pile of snow and just wait to die. I am a happy endings type of person, and I know this type of story is more a gritty, true-to-life life story. I don't mind a certain amount of heartbreak, after all, that what good romance is made of, but I have to have a silver lining, a glimmer of hope, a reason to say, "Boy, that was a good bo ...more
Emily
I like the idea of this book as pitched on the back cover.. however, it was very slow moving and I found myself not wanting to pick it up again once I put it down. That said, however, I rarely leave a book unfinished once I start it, so finish it I did (with a lot of skimming). I was about 100 pages into it and had the thought "I think I've read this before" I'm not sure exactly what went wrong because I don't see how you can mess up a book with a river pirate, a ghost, and a search for hidden t ...more
Cheryl
The first river wife character was rich and interesting. Subsequent wives were not so much.
Shelby Lee
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 ...more
Julieb
Here's the "can't put it down" book you were looking for. Like "Ahab's Wife" or Joyce Carol Oates' "The Falls" or "We Were the Mulvaneys"---epic, gothic/ dark in places, beautifully written. Spans three generations from the union of Annie Lark and French trapper Jacques. Life, birth, death, tragedy, mystery, ghosts, treasure, river pirates, slavery...are you in??
Lea
I absolutely loved this book! The first full chapter, Annie's story, grabbed my attention and wouldn't let go. I found the writing to be both eloquent and exciting. The story moves along at a nice pace, the characters are fascinating, and the novel has piqued my interest in the history of the Missouri bootheel. This is what historical fiction should be!
Diane Chamberlain
I nearly passed this book by because of some of the negative reviews here, but I started it and was instantly caught up in the story. I love well-written, multi-generational tales that span decades, and I particularly loved the way Agee linked the tales from the different eras. I found the characters fascinating and am so glad I gave the book a try.
Christy
I really liked this book in the beginning, but after halfway, I completely lost interest in the characters. This book was telling multiple stories within one book, and I got to a point where none of the characters/stories left held any interest to me. I never finished it, which considering how far I got is very unusual for me.
Shannon
Wow, I don't often come across a book that I can't get through. I made it 120 pages in and I couldn't go any farther. It was an unpleasant, badly written book. Sorry, but when writing a novel, the incredibly mundane lives of early 19th century people, are not interesting. I gave it 0 stars, a first for me.
Diane
Actually, I would give this book a 2 1/2. It had really good moments--I do love historical fiction and the idea of presenting it through journals. But the journal idea gave out after Annie Lark and the movement back and forth was somewhat confusing. The link to the "modern day" river wife was not well developed.
Annie
I actually really liked this book. The lives of many women on the same riverfront property intertwine through the generations. Mystery, adventure and idiosyncrasies combine to tell a story which is hard to put down.
Melissa
This book leaves me confused on what to say about it. So much of it was sad and depressing that its hard to say I enjoyed the book but it was a good book. There were parts that sucked me in and had me yelling at the book and having to put it down because it infuriated me so much and other parts that just fell flat and bogged down.

This book has several main characters none of whom I cared much for personality wise. The men are horrid and the women, who I think are supposed to be considered "stro
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Terrill
This started off promisingly--strong sense of place, interesting historical characters. . . but then it ended up being much too overly-plotted, full of fate masquerading as coincidence.
Mary Anderlik
The richness of this story is intriguing. The way she told the family history made the characters lifelike and robust. This book will stay with me for a long time.
Julie
I really enjoyed this book. The pace was exciting. The hardships of earlier times are rarely described with such detail. Made you feel like you were there.
Callie Jensen
Loved it! Twists and turns through out the book. Many intertwined stories. Will not bore you. Great book.
Tina
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Jonis owns twenty pairs of cowboy boots, some of them works of art, loves the open road, and believes that ecstasy and hard work are the basic ingredients of life and writing.

Born in Omaha, Nebraska, she grew up in Nebraska and Missouri, places where many of her stories and novels are set. She was educated at The University of Iowa (BA) and The State University of New York at Binghamton (MA, PhD).
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More about Jonis Agee...
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