Thursday, February 28, 2008

The River Wife by Jonis Agee

I just finished reading The River Wife by Jonis Agee. I thought it was an excellent read! The book’s narrator is Hedie Rails Ducharme, the pregnant 17 year old bride of Clement Ducharme, who is telling the story in 1930from the Ducharme family home in southern Missouri. Hedie comes across journals/diaries of Jacques Ducharme’s river wives, who were either married or involved with Clement Ducharme’s great-grandfather, Jacques Ducharme. The first half of the book starts in 1811 when the New Madrid area of Missouri had an earthquake and young Annie Lark was trapped inside her family’s cabin on the second floor. Jacques was a French fur trapper who came across Annie and rescued her. The first half of The River Wife is about Annie and Jacques’ life together. It was almost impossible to put down once I started it!

The second half of the book was about the other women in Jacques’ life. He was a charming, imposing character and seemed to inspire great loyalty. I found the second half of the book to be a little confusing. A couple of times I wanted to stop and draw up a genealogy chart, in order to keep the relationships straight. However, that slight confusion did not take away from my enjoyment of the book.

I do have to admit that I had to go back and re-read the last chapter after I finished the book. I thought that I must have missed something, and sure enough, I had missed an important fact. I would have liked for the ending to have been a little more direct, but I will also admit, that this might have just been me, missing the subtlety of the story! I would really be interested in hearing if others had this difficulty. I would also be interested in hearing what others thought the ending implied!

The River Wife has been described as a haunting Southern gothic story and I would agree with that. It is a fascinating story. I highly recommend this book and would love to hear what others thought of it!

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