Rebecca's Reviews > The River

The River by Helen Humphreys
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bookshelves: read-via-netgalley, nature, birds, environmentalist, uncategorizable, historical-fiction

(2.5) Humphreys has lived along Ontario’s Napanee River for over a decade. I was expecting a blend of personal reflection and natural observations, but instead the book is mostly composed of brief fictional passages illuminating a handful of species: cattails, the cabbage white butterfly, cardinal flowers, the great blue heron, and so on.

I liked the passages about the heron best – Humphreys successfully imagines the life of a plume hunter and contrasts it with the excitement of two women involved in the foundation of a bird conservation charity (see The Year of Necessary Lies for more on this topic). However, much of the book felt like unconnected vignettes, not building to any kind of grander picture of a location.

The book is richly illustrated, but my Kindle download does not do justice to the images and makes the layout look screwy. Reading this in print would likely be a much better experience, more like looking through a historical photo album. I also enjoyed the lists: of species (by kingdom), and of the random objects the river has brought Humphreys over the years. I’ve heard good things about her writing, so wouldn’t rule out trying out more of her books even though this one didn’t quite live up to expectations.
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Reading Progress

September 5, 2015 – Started Reading
September 5, 2015 – Shelved
September 5, 2015 – Shelved as: read-via-netgalley
September 5, 2015 – Shelved as: nature
September 7, 2015 – Shelved as: on-hold
September 18, 2015 – Shelved as: birds
September 18, 2015 – Shelved as: environmentalist
September 18, 2015 – Shelved as: uncategorizable
September 18, 2015 – Finished Reading
September 19, 2015 – Shelved as: historical-fiction

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