Book Review: The River by Tricia Wastvedt (DNF)

The River by Tricia WastvedtThe River: What it is about

The publisher says: “In 1958, in a small Devon village, on an idyllic summer afternoon, two children are drowned. Their parents, Isabel and Robert, are overcome with grief but, as time passes, their tragedy becomes part of the everyday fabric of village life.

One summer’s day, thirty years later, Anna arrives. She comes to the village on a whim, hoping to start afresh – and, without telling anyone she is pregnant, goes to live with Isabel. For a time the women find solace in each other’s company, but the baby’s arrival causes powerful feelings of loss and heartbreak to surface, and Anna must question whether Isabel’s feelings towards her child are entirely benign. . .

The River: What I thought

Unfortunately, I didn’t finish this book.

It was very well written. Each scene didn’t need many words to give an impression of the scenery and atmosphere.

The book changed scenes quite often and that was the reason I didn’t enjoy the story so much. We go from 1958 to 1946, to 1987 and 1930, and so on. I prefer a story that, when it looks back at the past, does so in a sequential way: first the furthest past and working towards the present. So, that was something I didn’t like about the book.

In addition, the protagonists differ in each of these scenes. While these people do appear throughout the book, they are focused on as protagonists only some of the time. So, a scene set in 1958 may focus on Isabel and Robert, then later in the book, we find them again as protagonists in 1987, while other scenes have other protagonists in 1958. I found it confusing, and also I didn’t feel close to any of the characters this way.

An attentive reader may enjoy linking up the individual stories and end up with the history of a number of people in the same village, but it didn’t work for me.

There was also not one person or story line that hooked me into reading further. The beautiful language and the atmosphere of the book kept me going for a while, but at 120 pages, I didn’t feel compelled to keep reading.

A more patient reader who enjoyes good literary fiction will probably enjoy this book a lot.

Rating: Did Not Finish

Number of pages: 346 (I read 120)

First published: 2004

I got this: win from Nat at In Spring it is the Dawn blog

Genre: literary fiction

About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

10 Responses to Book Review: The River by Tricia Wastvedt (DNF)

  1. Heldinne says:

    ook niet uitgelezen, is al vrij lang geleden, maar vond er nix aan

  2. FictionFan says:

    A lot of books seem to be doing broken timelines at the moment. Like you with this one, I usually find it stops me feeling really involved with the various characters. Thanks for a helpful review. 🙂

  3. Care says:

    Sounds like you gave it the “good ol’ college try”. See you soon. Tot ziens!

  4. Charlie says:

    Just as we’re discussing Life After Life I read this! I wasn’t too much a fan of the changing timeline there either, so I’d skip this one. I like the sound of lots of characters but if the protagonists aren’t there all that much…

  5. Monika says:

    I like that you talk about your DNF’s on the blog, you’ve inspired me to consider doing the same!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Monika, I think DNF reviews have their own value. Sometimes the effect is that it warns people off a really mediocre book. More often, I find that people find something in my review that they would like to read about and then the review becomes, for them, an invite to pick up the book and try for themselves. 🙂

  6. Book Blather says:

    In that case I shall look out for other books by this author, written from only one or two p.o.v.s because I like beautiful writing but I also need suspense and ‘connection’ to get me through a book. 🙂

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