Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Review: Beyond the Wild River by Sarah Maine

For fans of Kate Morton and Beatriz Williams, a highly atmospheric and suspenseful historical novel, set in the 1890s about a Scottish heiress who unexpectedly encounters her childhood friend in North America, five years after he disappeared from her family’s estate the night of a double murder.

Nineteen-year-old Evelyn Ballantyre has rarely strayed from her family’s estate in the Scottish Borderlands, save for the occasional trip to Edinburgh, where her father, a respected magistrate, conducts his business—and affairs of another kind. Evelyn has always done her duty as a daughter, hiding her boredom and resentment behind good manners—so when an innocent friendship with a servant is misinterpreted by her father as an illicit union, Evelyn is appalled.

Yet the consequence is a welcome one: she is to accompany her father on a trip to North America, where they’ll visit New York City, the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, and conclude with a fishing expedition on the Nipigon River in Canada. Now is her chance to escape her cloistered life, see the world, and reconnect with her father.

Once they’re on the Nipigon, however, Evelyn is shocked to discover that their guide is James Douglas, the former stable hand and her one-time friend who disappeared from the estate after the shootings of a poacher and a gamekeeper. Many had assumed that James had been responsible, but Evelyn never could believe it. Now, in the wilds of a new world, far from the constraints of polite society, the truth about that day, James, and her father will be revealed…to stunning consequences.

Paperback, 336 pages
Expected publication: April 18th 2017 by Atria Books 
Genre: Historical Fiction

Kristine's Thoughts:

** I received an advanced readers copy from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!**

Beyond the Wild River caught my eye because it was was being marketed for fans of Kate Morton. I immediately wanted to read it because I loved all of her books. I think this was a big mistake. It left me with some pretty high expectations that it wasn't able to fill.

Evelyn always wondered what happened on her family estate five years earlier. She feared that both her father and James Douglas were guilty of the most horrific of crimes. It wasn't until the fishing trip on the Nipigon when they were surprisingly reunited that the full story slowly came to light and questions were answered.

This book was not a fast moving book. In fact, at times it was quite slow and I struggled to get through it. I wanted to know what really happened but had to put the book down on a few occasions. My issue was mostly that what happened in the past happened in the past if that makes sense. The reader did not live (or read) through that aspect of the story but were mostly told about it after the fact. It didn't really fully tell the back story so that I was able to care about what happened. It left James Douglas slightly underdeveloped and left me with an opinion of him that was neither good or bad. He was just there and I didn't care about him as much as I should have. 

I didn't dislike the story but it didn't evoke the emotions and feelings that I love in a good book. The characters were just characters in a story that won't stay with me. There was nothing wrong with the writing, it was the story itself that failed to fully capture me.

About the Author
Sarah Maine was born in England and emigrated to Canada with her family at the age of ten. A small northern Ontario community was home for the next two years before the family moved south, and Sarah went to high school in Toronto. She returned to England to study archaeology, stayed on to do research and work, married there and has two sons.
Books were always important. She grew up on a diet of Arthur Ransome and Robert Louis Stevenson but also the classics, Jane Austen and the Brontés and, of course, Daphne du Maurier - but now enjoys a wide range of contemporary fiction.
The House between Tides was published in 2016, followed, in 2017, by Beyond the Wild River. A third book, Ullaness, is work in progress.

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