I am delighted to share my review today for Go As A River by Shelley Read. This is a stunning book and the story was such an amazing one to read.
My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the blog Tour and for arranging my copy of the book.
In this soaring, compassionate novel, a breathtaking picture of our natural world – its trees and mountains and light – emerges. But more than this, it is the tale of female resilience and becoming that gives Go As A River its strength, its soul, and its possibility.
Nestled in the foothills of the Elk Mountains and surrounded by sprawling forests, wandering bears and porcupines, the Gunnison River rushes by the tiny town of Iola.
On a cool autumn morning, seventeen-year-old Torie Nash heads into her village pulling a rickety wagon filled with late-season peaches from her farm. As she nears an intersection, a mysterious young drifter with eyes dark and shiny as a raven’s wing, grimy thumbs and smudged cheeks, stops to ask her the way. She could have turned left or crossed over, but she did not. She stayed. ‘Go as a river,’ he whispers to her.
So begins a mesmerising story that unfolds over a lifetime, as Torie attempts to absorb and follow his words.
Gathering all the pieces of her small, extraordinary life, spinning through the eddies of desire, heartbreak and betrayal, embracing and challenged by the landscape she calls home, Torie arrives at a single rocky decision that changes her life forever.
“What I’ve learnt about becoming is that it takes a long time”
Oh my goodness, this is an absolutely heartbreaking yet gorgeously written story. This is a historical fiction story that does have some roots that are based around an actual event. The tale the author has brought is of a young woman who discovers life as she gets older and that things can have consequences.
Set in the 1950s through to the 70s the author tells of a small town, Iola in Colorado. Her family grow peach trees and the main voice of this story is that of Victoria Nash. Victoria has a younger brother and her father, after the death of her mother it has gradually fallen to her to take over the house chores.
It is a random meeting with a young man that alters her life in a way she could never have dreamed of. Realising she needed to get away she goes into the mountains, this is an area the author knows well and she describes the terrain and the conditions so well. I should also add other is also a good amount of detail regarding the peaches.
The town of Iola is destined to be lost under the waters when a new dam is to be built. Taking courage and initiative Victoria decides to make a huge move and make one of the biggest gambles of her life.
This is a book that enthralled me and captured my attention from the very first pages. A story of growing up in the US with references to the war in Vietnam kept me rooted in the time. The author brings the hardships and also the hard work required to live and work on a farm and also some of the politics of the time. Not too much, but enough that is relevant and to the point.
The story is one that is of life, love and loss. It is part and parcel of most people’s lives no matter what time they live or where they live. Bringing the humdrum and mundane world of Victoria, as she sees it, to life in such a way as to make such a compelling story was fabulous. The author really nailed this for me. Completely riveting.
There is much more to this story than the synopsis or this review lets on. The story does flow as a river with highs and lows, rapids and quiet pools but it is forever moving. I was so surprised when I read the synopsis after reading the book, this is a debut! Wow!
This is one for those who like their fiction to lean a little towards literary fiction but also have a feel of a classic. It is imaginative and thought-provoking but above all extremely readable and an addictive historical fiction story. I adored this book so much and I am excited to see where the author goes next. It is one I would definitely recommend.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shelley Read is a fifth generation Coloradoan who lives with her family in the Elk Mountains of the Western Slope. She was a Senior Lecturer at Western Colorado University for nearly three decades, where she taught writing, literature, environmental studies, and Honours, and was a founder of the Environment & Sustainability major and a support program for first-generation and at-risk students. Shelley holds degrees in writing and literary studies from the University of Denver and Temple University’s Graduate Program in Creative Writing. She is a regular contributor to Crested Butte Magazine and Gunnison Valley Journal, and has written for the Denver Post and a variety of publications.
Go As A River, her first novel, is inspired by the landscape she comes from and will be published in over thirty territories.
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