Monday, 4 October 2010
Review: Three Rivers Rising
This book alternates between the points of view of Celestia, Peter, Maura, a girl not much older than Celestia but already married with three young children, Kate, a young window-turned-medical student, and, briefly, Celestia's father. At first when Maura and Kate came into the story I was slightly confused about what their place was in both the universe and the novel. Their place in the universe still remains to me much of a mystery, but their place in the novel is to give it extra dimensions, points of view and adding extra dimensions and meaning. I think Three Rivers Rising would have been more of a hopelessly romantic yet poetically tragic love story if it hadn't had those other elements to it. It is a hopelessly romantic yet poetically tragic love story anyway, I suppose, but these extra voices give it more depth. For instance, the brief glimpse into the mind of Whitcomb, Celestia's dad, makes him seem like much more of a complex character, and more of a person than a rich businessman. He is, I suppose, the closest thing that the book has to a villain.
For all these many voices, Jame Richards still manages to make each voice unique, and give each person a story to tell. They're all three-dimensional.
It's hard to say that Celestia was a likeable main character, mainly because all the other characters are so well-rounded and have you rooting for them, it's hard to call her a "main character" (even though she is really). Anyway, she was brave and true to herself, even though admittedly she does suffer a little from Rebellious Princess Syndrome, it's not in such an obvious sort of way à la the girls of Spence Academy in the Gemma Doyle trilogy.
I suppose the one thing I wasn't too keen on was how rushed the opening of the book was. It's strange- the reader seemed slightly thrown in at the deep end in that Peter and Celestia were already having secret meetings and kissing by page seventeen. However, on the other hand, the book opens the summer before the flood, allowing Peter and Celestia to get to know each other and such before the flood.
And the flood itself. Especially towards the end of the book, Three Rivers Rising was devastating and utterly heart-wrenching. I thought it was particularly effective how the day of the flood, as well as stating the location and which character is narrating, the time of day, so the reader can observe the events unfolding from the failure of the dam to the destruction of Johnstown.
For all the novels-in-verse I devour, it's rare that I come across historical fiction written in verse format, so this made me happy. And it was particularly wonderful poetry, which seemed to flow, almost, like a river.
In Three Words: poetic, heart-wrenching, fascinating.