Monday, 2 March 2015

"After River" by Donna Milner

I really enjoyed this family story that covers three generations on a farm in British Columbia.  The novel begins with Natalie, the main character, on the porch doing laundry with her mother.  There are three other children in the family- all boys.  Natalie has a fascinating relationship with her oldest brother, Bowyer.
They live a few miles north of the American border in the 1960's on a busy dairy farm surrounded by the mountains.  Each family member has specific chores, but they still need a farm hand, so they hire a draft dodger who is demonstrating against the Vietnam War.  His name is Richard Jordan- nicknamed "River".
This quote gives you  a good introduction to the book.
"The shattering of our family did not occur gradually.  There was no drawn-out series of events that could be pointed at and blamed,  no slow motion accident to be replayed and pondered over.  It came suddenly.  The irreversible tragedy of error was accomplished in the course of a few long-ago summer days.  It left everyone in our family with their own secret version of what happened.  And the rest of their lives to come to terms with it.  Whatever conclusion each of us came to, we kept it to ourselves."
The  slow build to the re-telling of the traumatic events could perhaps be smoother, but it is clear that devastation happened to this once- close family and I couldn't put the book down. When the events finally unfold, it is riveting and emotional.

I especially enjoyed reading about an area of British Columbia that I have explored. The last page mentions Nelson and I have great memories of Nelson!

This book was loaned to me by Joyce, a woman that I met while volunteering for the public library at a local  retirement home.

I have discovered that Donna Milner has written two other books and I have just put them on hold at the library.  Can't wait to read more of her writing!

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