Tuesday, August 2, 2011

River's Song by Melody Carlson

Anna Larson grew up on the Siuslaw River in western Oregon. Her parents had established a store along the river, serving those living nearby. Now, in 1959, after the funeral of her mother, Anna returns to her remote childhood home.
Anna is sorting out her life. Anna and her daughter have been living with her mother-in-law, Eunice, even though Anna's husband died years ago. He had been wounded in WW II and the medical bills had been extensive. Eunice had convinced Anna there was no money left for Anna's independent living. Anna thought the only way to survive was to live with Eunice, a bitter and prideful woman. Anna had dutifully cooked and cleaned, maintaining Eunice's house.
She had even endured her mother-in-law's hurting comments about Anna's Indian heritage. Her grandmother had been full Indian, a heritage Anna ignored in her adult life. Anna's relationship with her college bound daughter is in shambles and the tension with her mother-in-law is rising. She decides to go to her childhood home to deal with her mother's possessions and perhaps sell the property.
Even as Anna is getting used to being on the quiet river she meets up with Hazel, a woman doing Indian studies. It seems Anna's grandmother may have been the last full blooded Siuslaw Indian and Hazel is passionate about discovering as much of the Indian heritage as she can.
As Anna enjoys the slower pace of the river life, thoughts of turning the old store into an inn begin to surface. Then Anna meets Hazel's son, Clark, a handsome man who may be interested in more than remodeling the building.

Carlson has created a good story of a middle aged woman trying to sort out her troubled life. I wish there had been more about the history of the Siuslaw Indians, since Anna re-embracing her heritage was one theme of the book. We readers hear a few personal stories but end up knowing nothing of the Indians, how they lived, etc.
I am a bit troubled by Anna's believing her mother-in-law's claim that there is no money for Anna after the death of her husband. In some respects Anna seems a little dumb. I do need to remember this would have been in the fifties and Anna had married right out of high school. Still, it seems forced that Anna had to live with her wicked mother-in-law.
Also, the Siuslaw River must be a beautiful place. While there was some description of it, you'll find a little more at this dated website, www.siuslawriver.com.
Some of the relationship issues are not solved at the end of the book so we will be looking for the sequel. It seems we will then learn why Eunice is so mean. You can find out more at www.melodycarlson.com.

Melody Carlson published her first book in 1995 and she has been writing prolifically ever since. To date, Melody has published over 200 books, making her one of the top 20 most prolific authors of all time. With total sales of over 1.4 million her award-winning books include: HomewardLove Finds You in Sisters, OregonLimelight; the Diary of a Teenage Girl series; the True Colors series; and the Charter House Girls series.

In her professional life, Melody has worn many hats: from pre-school teacher to political activist to senior editor. Currently, she writes full-time, and freelances from her home. She has two grown sons and lives in Sisters, Oregon with her husband, Chris, and Bailey, her chocolate lab. They enjoy skiing, hiking, and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.
Abingdon Press, 274 pages.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.


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