A curious novel set in FRANCE
Poignant novel set in COLORADO
27th March 2023
Go As A River by Shelley Read, poignant novel set in Colorado.
Once in a while, you come across a novel that really captures something special, that evidences real talent and inventiveness. This novel is one such book. The storytelling is sublime and the plot is heart rending. thoughtful and searingly emotionally intelligent.
Victoria Nash is growing up in Iola, a town that is eventually sacrificed for the greater good, drowned under a reservoir. Here, her life without her mother, who died in a car accident when she was young, proves challenging, as it is a male dominated household. She is tormented and controlled by her brother Seth, and her function as a female, essentially, is to minister to the needs of the men and keep house. After all, this is the 1940/50s. The family mainly farms peaches, an unusual but piquant variety, that her grandfather planted many years ago – a Nash peach is a thing of beauty and taste.
One day she meets a stranger and this encounter alters the trajectory of her life.
This is very much a story of its time, stretching through 1940 -1970, when people other than white people suffered a great deal, when a woman’s place was in the home and, as the story moves along, the author sets a backdrop of the Apollo missions and the Vietnam War. Did you know that one way the U.S. government conscripted young men into the army, to fight in Vietnam, was by pulling random dates of birth out of a hat and if you birthday was announced, you had no choice but to join the army? Frightening (and that is why I love reading fiction, because you often pick up little nuggets of information and get you thinking!)
This is a very carefully plotted and nuanced novel that delves into the souls of the characters, that is multifaceted in its choice of themes, and that is so very readable. It is a study of loss and rootlessness, of stoicism nurture, and womanhood and it all comes together so very well.
The sense of place is all about the natural setting, the mountains, the valley in which Iola sits, the breeze through the peach trees, the fragrance of the blossom, the harsh weather and the majesty of the natural environment.
I heartily recommend this read (and yes, you will see comparisons to Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, rightfully so!). This will deservedly by big in 2023. And I don’t think I will now pick up a peach without thinking of this novel.
Tina for the TripFiction Team
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