Go As A River - Shelley Read - Keeping Up With The Penguins
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In 1948, 17-year-old Victoria Nash encounters a young man at a crossroads. He asks her for directions, and they walk together into the small Colorado town she calls home – and her life changes forever. That’s where Go As A River begins, the new novel by fifth-generation Coloradoan Shelley Read. Penguin Books Australia were kind enough to send me a copy for review.

I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, but Go As A River caught my eye with its Sliding Doors-esque premise. It turns out the man Victoria meets, Wilson Moon, is Native American. He’s effectively run out of town by suspicious and racist locals – but Victoria is captivated by him, and they fall in love. It’s like a mid-20th century American Romeo & Juliet.

I won’t reveal all of the twists and turns that lead Victoria to run away into the wilderness, but I will say that Read captures the beauty and terror of it. If you’ve ever wondered whether and how you’d survive in a real-life Naked & Afraid scenario, Go As A River might give you some answers.

But in painting a picture, Read sometimes goes overboard on the details. The prose is wistful – so bloody wistful – and overloaded with metaphors and similes (“like the period at the end of a sentence”, “deep and unknowable as the sea”, etc etc). She does manage to squeeze in moments of insight, though: “A woman is more than a vessel meant to carry babies and grief,” (page 287).

Go As A River is probably best suited to readers of historical fiction who are looking for something a little more intense and survivalist than they’re used to in WWII and Regency romances. If you’re a fan of nature writing and nostalgic for a time before pollution ruined our natural landscapes, you’ll love it, too.

Buy Go As A River on Booktopia here. (affiliate link)