Wednesday, June 25, 2008
After River - Donna Milner
Reasons to Read This Book
1. If a novel is compared to the works of Carol Shields and Mary Lawson, how can you not give it a try? (If you happen to be a fan of those authors, as I am.)
“As satisfying as Mary Lawson’s Crow Lake and as emotionally resonant as Carol Shields’ Unless, Donna Milner’s After River is a novel not just for reading but for living in…”
(It was all that.)
2. Milner’s story telling skills are reminiscent of the engaging, gentle flow of those, “Once upon a time…” tales. The story captured my heart and imagination. I wanted to return to it every chance I could.
3. The characters are realistic – human and endearing. Not only could I relate to both the mother and daughter, I adored the male characters. (These were people I either felt I knew or wish I knew…)
4. The novel is set in the East Kootenays of the beautiful province of British Columbia. The descriptive passages are such that you can feel that sense of place and time – the fog, the rain, the heat, the smells, the beauty (and danger) of the land.
5. The themes of family, love (in all its many forms and with all its various kinds of heartbreak), secrets, guilt, redemption and forgiveness are all there. So too is the painful realization that one’s life can veer off in directions totally unexpected and unprepared for.
The (seemingly) idyllic life of the Ward family is depicted with compassion, love and understanding – both before and After River. For the title of the novel contains the name of the catalyst of the story – River, the American draft dodger, who is hired to work on the farm. His presence and influence will forever change this family – how they see one another and themselves.
Spanning thirty-five years and moving smoothly between past and present, Milner has created (with her first novel!) a compelling story that is a pleasure to read – and one that stays with you after you (regretfully) come to the last page.
I’m looking forward to her next novel.