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Follow the River

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  11,759 ratings  ·  1,651 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.

From the Paperb
ebook, 416 pages
Published August 11th 2010 by Ballantine Books (first published 1981)
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Vicki Wertz I recommended it to my son when he was in 8th grade, and I remember he was distressed by some of the violence. There are a few scenes that are…moreI recommended it to my son when he was in 8th grade, and I remember he was distressed by some of the violence. There are a few scenes that are incredibly intense that I would not suggest for someone still in elementary school. (less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Anne Stevens
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
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
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!
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
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
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
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
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.
Even though this is listed as historical fiction, it is actually based on a true survival story of a woman named Mary Ingles (no, not Little House on the Prairie) who was captured by Indians in the 1700's. I read this for book club, plus, I have always wanted to read it.

Some stories take a while to set up, but not this one. From the first page I was pulled in. It started off perfectly and I wondered why I hadn't read it before now. The characters were easy to like, even Gretel. I was really cap
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
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
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),
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!
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
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
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
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!
Historic Fiction Based on a true story

Another difficult book to review. Is this a well written book? Yes, I would say so. It does seem to go on and on to the point of exhaustion, but what choice did the author have? Ultimately, the exhaustion and horror of reading this story is the only way we can come close to understanding what happened.

I don't want to say too much, because not knowing who survives is one of the stronger elements of suspense in this story. I will say that Gretel, hands-down, i
Beth Crawford
This book is based on an incredible true story. I couldn't put it down!
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
♥ 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
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
Suzanne Moore
Mary Ingles was an amazing woman! I can't imagine living through what she endured. When she left her sons and newborn daughter in the care of savages my heart nearly broke. Escaping the Shawnee and finding her way home was a treacherous journey that seemed at any moment would be the death of her. Her traveling companion, an old Dutch woman named Gretel, was quite scary and gruesome. When Gretel began displaying cannibalistic behavior I thought about how desperate one must be to have such strong ...more
Oct 16, 2007 Buffer rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
I read "Follow the River" twenty years ago and found it gripping. During the ensuing years I've traveled through the New River country, stayed in the Blue Ridge, and driven along the Kanawha River. While traveling in W. Virginia i bought "Angels Along the River", by E.M. Lahr. It is the memoir of a woman who re-traced Mary Ingles' journey, but in the 20th Century. It was time to re-read James A. Thom's heavily researched novel about the capture of Mary Draper Ingles by Shawnee Indians during the ...more
I LOVED this book. What an amazing adventure. It's tortuously realistic in some places--indian scalping and horrific violence against women and children. I know, sounds like a fun read, right? But it is amazing what the protagonist overcomes in this book. It will break your heart and amaze you all at once. I suppose you need a bit of a strong stomache for it (one girl cried about it at a book club review), but I rank it with some of my best reads.

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.
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Follow the River 10 96 Jan 03, 2014 03:19PM  
Appropriate for children? 2 17 Oct 22, 2013 01:27AM  
do you think you could do it? 9 33 Jun 10, 2013 06:03AM  
LIVING WHILE THE WEST WAS WON 5 40 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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