American Historical Fiction discussion

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Book Discussions > Follow the River

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message 1: by Karen (new)

Karen Duncan | 3 comments I've read this twice and loved it both times. Writing flows and the story is riveting. It helps that my ancestors lived also in this time and place and were some of those who greeted the women as they emerged. Sharyn McCrumb's She Walks These Hills is a more fictionalized (if that's a word) account, but definitely worth reading as well.


message 2: by Harold (new)

Harold Titus (haroldtitus) | 98 comments I just finished this book, having read several other James Alexander Thom novels. I was particularly impressed with how well the author described the varied, rugged terrain and the main character's emotional and physical torment and how he provided a different kind of conflict in each chapter (to keep the story moving) within the ever present difficulty of returning to civilization. I am presently working on my review.


message 3: by Misfit (new)

Misfit I second your thoughts on this book - loved it. I have a couple other of his languishing on my shelves somewhere.


message 4: by Karen (new)

Karen Duncan | 3 comments Harold, you are so right about the terrain. In parts of the book it became a major character itself.


message 5: by Harold (new)

Harold Titus (haroldtitus) | 98 comments A descriptive passage I especially liked:
"Thunder grumbled, lightning flickered on the horizon, and as the clouds climbed, a blast of damp air shivered the surface of the river and turned the leaves of the forest white side up. Soon the thunderheads dominated the whole sky above the river; they came gliding across, their undersides lowering and dragging gray veils of rain under them. Birds and insects fell silent."


message 6: by Kristin (new)

Kristin Gleeson | 31 comments That is definitely a book where the setting plays a major part in providing the atomosphere and tension. It's been a long while since I read it, but it's still on my shelves.


message 7: by Joe (new)

Joe (joehohmann) | 144 comments Just finished it. I'M WORN OUT! :) I liked it, but thought "Sea to Shining Sea" was more interesting.


message 8: by Diane Lynn (new)

Diane Lynn | 7 comments In my mind, Follow the River and From Sea to Shining Sea are both excellent. I have a few more of his books that I hope to get to before too long.


message 9: by Linda (new)

Linda Graham (lindalgraham) | 11 comments I first read this one years ago. It is remarkable—both the story and the telling of it. I do remember one thing nagged at me, though, and that was that she spent much more time daydreaming about her husband than she did missing her boys. That seemed odd, though maybe it struck a nerve because my own children were about the same age at the time I read it. (The baby decision I can emphasize with.)

Definitely “meaty” historical fiction at its best.


message 10: by Harold (new)

Harold Titus (haroldtitus) | 98 comments I was also bothered that the author does not have her thinking much about losing her young two sons. We can infer that this might have been a defense mechanism. They had been taken away from her. There was nothing she could do to change that. However, I would like to have seen displayed at least some overt anguish. The contrast between the absence of anguish about the loss of her sons and what she felt about leaving behind her baby was too stark for me to feel comfortable about.


message 11: by Linda (new)

Linda Graham (lindalgraham) | 11 comments Harold wrote: "I was also bothered that the author does not have her thinking much about losing her young two sons..

Well, what do you know – and here I thought it had someone to do with a male author’s perspective on what a woman might be thinking :-).

This is one of the reasons I love reading; not of one of us (characters included) thinks exactly the same. Now, if I ever get kidnapped and have to accomplish the impossible to make my way home, I’ll have a clue on the mindset I need to adopt!


message 12: by Karen (new)

Karen Duncan | 3 comments I agree about the seeming lack of concern and I think it could be influenced by the author's gender. Consider the time and place, though. I don't believe people could have been as attuned to emotions as we are today and still be able to survive and prosper in the Kentucky wilderness; there were too many crucial life decisions to be made to spend much time on introspection. I realize this is a huge generalization, though, and disregards native peoples' culture entirely!


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