Saturday, May 05, 2007

 

All the Rivers Run by Nancy Cato

This epic novel begins in the late 1800's with Philadephia Gordon's (Delie) arrival in Australia by means of being rescued from a ship wreck off the coast. Several chapters into the book, I realized that her entire family perished with the ship. It happened regularly that I would realize something several pages after the fact, and it lessened my enjoyment of the book. We meet Delie at the age of 13 and she is the only character we get know in any detail at all. The central theme of the story is a comparison between her life and the life of the river where she spends almost all of her adult life. Delie is a beautiful, headstrong and talented artist who attracts some interesting men, bears six children, four who reach adulthood, becomes the only woman skipper on the Murray River, etc. etc., almost too good to be true. Except that she is self-centered, weak-willed with men she is attracted to, not a wonderful mother at all, and scatter-brained at times. Even though I related to some of her thoughts and actions, I didn't like her very much. The story covers her younger years quite well, but when she begins bearing children, the pace continually increases until we are racing through her last years. She regrets getting old (one thing I identified with) and compares her life to a drop of water in the river. The river begins high up in the mountains, flows into the river which then ends with the sea. The water then evaporates and is carried back to the mountains as snow or rain. While, the drop of water is pretty meaningless in the scheme of things, the cyle of life, like the river, is a continual circle. Delie's life in Australia begins in the mountains, and continually she moves closer to where the river meets the sea. I did enjoy learnng more about the history of Australia and some of Cato's descriptions of the landscapes are breathtaking. I loved the way she describes Delie's fever during a bout of pneumonia:
"She saw her life as a drop, less than a drop, a molecule in the enormous river of time. A molecule of H2O, And with this temperature, she would soon evaporate. Her head began to vaporize first, becoming incredibly light. Then her neck and shoulders and soon her heart would be gone, her whole body turned to a whisp of steam . . .Something cold pressed against her lips which no longer existed."
Another river/life analogy:
"That must be her direction now, downstream, out into life. She must follow where the river went and travel the unknown landscape towards the distant sea. Pausing on the bridge between the dead past and the relentless future, she knew that there could be not standing still. Life beckoned her from beyond the farthest bend."
I'm glad to have this book finished. It would have been a better book if it had been shorter and if Delie had been a little less self-absorbed. Maybe, it's just the pictures of Sigrid Thornton (Man From Snowy River) on the cover and inside the book that put me off. I've never been able to decide if I like her as an actress or not. Even so, I have several more books about Australia that I hope I will like better than this one. It's not a bad read, just not a great one.
Rating: 3
Posted by Framed at 2:32 PM

6 comments:
Tristi Pinkston said...
Thank you for mentioning the actress's name! I saw the picture and immediately my brain went into overdrive ("Who is that? Who IS that???") I hate it when I can't pull out a name. :)Thanks for the review!
5:24 PM
Cassie said...
How funny that you read a book with her on the cover. I wonder if they made a movie out of it. Guess I'll pass on this one.
8:49 AM
Framed said...
Yes, it was an HBO movie. There were several pages of stills from the movie. Only one of the men were very truly good-looking and he dies.
10:23 AM
booklogged said...
The quotes are beautiful. If I'd only read the quotes I would have been tempted to read this one, but with your review I think I'll pass on this one.
1:22 PM
nessie said...
Man I never even hearf of this book ever but the review was tempting. thanks a mil
11:52 PM
Framed said...
Nessie, I hope you like it more than I did. I picked based another blogger's rave review and there were a lot of great reviews on Amazon. Book, I don't blame you. It's way too long for an iffy read.
9:23 AM

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