Sunday, January 29, 2012

River's Call by Melody Carlson

River's Call is the second in The Inn at Shining Waters series. Clark and Anna are now married and running the inn on the Siuslaw River. Lauren is off at college.
Anna receives a desperate call from Lauren. She is very ill and Anna makes arrangements for her to come to the Inn to recuperate. It becomes apparent that Lauren has morning sickness. Lauren is pregnant.
Eunice, mother of Anna's deceased first husband is a manipulating woman. She insists Lauren marry the boy, Donald, and live with her. Eunice and Donald's mother make it happen. Eunice is wealthy and can provide for all the needs of Lauren and her family.
When Sarah is born, Lauren does not do well. Anna invites her and the baby to come to the river inn for a while. While there is some bonding, Anna is disgusted with Lauren's behavior and the two part with strong words.
Over the years, Anna tries to remake the connection with Lauren. But Lauren remains aloof. Sarah does come to the inn for summers and Anna forges a strong relationship with her granddaughter.
In the turmoil of her life, Lauren turns to alcohol and prescription drugs.

This novel is a good study on character and forgiveness. Anna, Eunice, Lauren and Sarah are all women with strong feelings and with lots of hurts. How they manage to work through the pains and the misunderstandings is a strong theme in this book.
There are other interesting aspects of the novel as well. The era is the 60s and the Inn has no TVs. Some guests are at a loss, not being able to see the cruelty of the Viet Nam war on a nightly basis.
But others find healing by the quiet river. When Lauren is at her lowest, she senses the river calling her. She responds to the river's call and finds her own healing.
Another major theme is the mother daughter relationship, first between Anna and Lauren and then between Lauren and Sarah. The 60s and 70s were turbulent times for families and Carlson does a great job recreating that in this novel.
We also learn more about Anna's native American heritage, an added plus.

My only criticism of this book is one I often have with sequels. While it is not absolutely necessary to read the first in the series, doing so would certainly help readers understand the complex relationships in the novel, especially between Eunice and Anna. A one page synopsis of book one, at the very beginning of the book, would be helpful. Unfortunately, I rarely see this in sequels and it is missing in this one.

And we know there will be another in the series. Sarah is missing, apparently run off at age sixteen. I trust we'll hear her story in the next book.

Melody Carlson is the author of more than 200 books, including the Teenage Girl series. She is the winner of the RITA Award and has been nominated for the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award. She and her husband live in central Oregon. See more at http://www.melodycarlson.com/.

Abingdon Press, 305 pages.

I received an egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
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