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Push Not the River Paperback – August 12, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (August 12, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312311532
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312311537
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #764,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Tumultuous times in late 18th-century Poland are the backdrop for this stiffly written historical romance based on the unpublished diary of Countess Anna Maria Berezowska. In 1791, 17-year-old Anna, orphaned by the near-simultaneous deaths of her parents, has come to live with her aunt and uncle on their country estate. Guileless and innocent, Anna falls in love with handsome neighbor Jan Stelnicki, awakening the wrath of her conniving cousin Zofia, who wants him for herself. After Zofia orchestrates a disastrous picnic, Anna is left alone in the woods, and is brutally raped by a stranger. Married off against her will immediately after the attack, she soon discovers that she is pregnant. In the same year, the Third of May Constitution is signed by King Stanislaw, giving peasants human rights. Many Polish nobles are enraged by the new laws, and call for Catherine of Russia to deliver them. The conflict divides Poland, swallowing up Anna, Zofia and Jan, as well as Zofia's brutal brother, Walter, who signs on with Catherine. Martin devotes more space to romantic drama than to historical detail, but [his] characters are nonetheless caricaturish: even the conflicted, flamboyant Zofia fails to spring fully to life. Martin's tendency to tell rather than show slows the narrative, and few readers will make it to the overheated finale, in which Anna flees the victorious Russian army as it advances on Warsaw.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Push Not the River contains all the sweep and romance of the classic romantic epics such as Gone with the Wind and Doctor Zhivago, with a heroine who remains strong in the face of both personal and political tragedy. An enthralling tale of courage, survival, and hope, Anna Maria's story is at once timeless and timely."
-India Edghill, author of Queenmaker

"Push Not the River is a wonderful epic historical saga in the grand romantic style. The plot never lets up; it gallops at break-neck speed through a vividly portrayed historical landscape, against which we see the triumphant transformation of Anna . . . into a strong and powerful woman."
-Jane Feather, bestselling author of Kissed by Shadows

"James Conroyd Martin's vivid historical novel captivates the reader with its sweeping depiction of a bygone society on the cusp of violent change. Combining politics with intrigue and romance, Push Not the River gives us a glimpse into the turbulent era of late eighteenth century Poland and its people. Aristocrats and peasants, patriots and traitors come alive in this story, and the Polish soul is beautifully illuminated through ancient myths, folkways, and wisdoms. With his juxtaposition of the personal and political, Martin weaves a compelling tale of transformation--both of a remarkable young woman and her remarkable nation."
-Jennifer Donnelly, author of The Tea Rose

"Martin's novel transports the reader two hundred years into Poland's glorious past, a world of castles and manor houses. One woman's life provides a metaphor for a country which--with the Third of May Constitution--was the first to attempt democratic reform in modern Europe. While the attempt failed, Push Not the River sings of a people's pride and indomitable hope."
-Jan Lorys, director of the Polish Museum of America


"...River contains all the sweep and romance of the classic romantic epics...with a heroine who remains strong ...." (India Edghill, author of Queenmaker)

"....The plot never lets up; it gallops at break-neck speed through a vividly portrayed historical landscape..." (Jane Feather, bestselling author of Kissed by Shadows)

"....Push Not the River gives us a glimpse into the turbulent era of late eighteenth century Poland and its people." (Jennifer Donnelly, author of The Tea Rose)

"Martin's novel transports the reader 200 years into Poland's glorious past....Push Not the River sings of a people's pride..." (Jan Lorys, director of the Polish Museum of America)

"Holds readers because of the cast of well-developed characters and the need to see how Anna and her young son will survive." (Library Journal)

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Customer Reviews

I would highly recommend this book to any historical fiction lover.
Elizabeth
It's one of those rare books you really cannot put down and you look forward to reading a second time.
Linda M. Hansen
It is a sweeping story ~~ very interesting and descriptive of the times.
Busy Mom

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Linda Linguvic HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
This historical novel by James Conroyd Martin is based on the true story of Countess Anna Maria Berezowska, a young woman who lived through the tumultuous events in Poland during the years 1791-1794. The author discovered the diary that had been kept in sealed wax for almost two centuries by the Countess' family, and has been researching the historical period it covers for the past 25 years.
I was immediately drawn into the story of the young Anna Maria and the dramatic events that shaped her life. Orphaned at 17, she's sent to live with her aunt, uncle and cousin Zofia who is her own age. These two young women are very different and there is conflict between them throughout the book. However, the author's skill in developing Zofia's character kept the story from falling into the trap of stereotyping and these two characters emerge as complex individuals.
The story is rich with romance, intrigue, passion and love. And it's all set against a backdrop of Polish history. There's a bridge in New York City named after the patriot Tadeusz Kosciuszko, but until now I had no idea who he was. Neither did I think about how the events of the French revolution directly affected the rest of Europe and Poland in particular. I learned about these things in this book as I followed Anna Maria's story, my eyes racing over the pages and holding my breath through her many ordeals. It's a fast and easy read, and, in spite of being 608 pages long I yearned for more when it ended. Hopefully the author will sit fit to write a sequel.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Mary R. Mitchell on July 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
Every country has a history, but few countries suffered the repeated tragedies of Poland. Immersed in a feudal system that oppressed Poland's poor, the nobility became fatally divided. Within this country's class struggle, James Conroyd Martin puts a personal face on the events of the time by introducing the reader to the Berezowski family. In particular, two cousins, Anna and Zophia, battle each other and the country's system of nobility to an end which is both bitter and hopeful. Mr. Martin gleaned his story from the reading and translating of a true-life diary that is almost 200 years old. Written by a woman who lived through many of the trials of Poland during its multiple partitions, PUSH NOT THE RIVER fictionalizes her family's experiences around the tru historical occupations and partitions of the land. Along with the fictional characters, the reader is introduced to some of Poland's greatest heroes and most breath-taking landscapes. The River Vistula seems to work as a beautiful metaphor in illustrating all that divided the sides during that period of time in Poland. Open the first page of this book, and begin to know the Berezowska cousins and their country. It is well worh the effort.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By R. Boadway on January 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I could not put this book down! While at times it read a little like a soap opera, the fact that it was based on a real Countess' diary kept it real and lent the story credibility. Anna's passion for love, life and her country was inspirational and touching. I also liked the fact that while I was being entertained by an intriguing story, I was being given a wonderful history lesson as well (being from a Polish background, I am embarrassed to say all of this was new information for me). It is a novel filled with intrigue, suspense, mystery, revenge, passion, love, faith, glitter, jealousy, greed, war, death, solidarity....the list goes on and on.

Best of all, I hear that the author is in the process of writing a sequel as I speak. Can't wait!
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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Busy Mom VINE VOICE on January 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
First off, on the front cover, an author compared this novel to "Gone with the Wind" and "Doctor Zhivago" ~~ while I've read "Gone with the Wind" ~~ this is not as same as that classic novel. This is an entirely different historical novel ~~ more focused on the events surrounding the main character than on the characters themselves.

It is perhaps one of the most beautifully written novels so far this year ~~ very engrossing and very much a page-turner. I was immersed with the story-line from the first sentence on.

This story focuses on a young girl, Anna Maria, who suddenly lost both of her parents in a matter of weeks. Sent to live with her aunt and uncle and cousin, Zofia, Anna finds love with the neighbor, who Zofia also has designs on. Swept up into betrayal, rape, pregnancy and other mayhem, Anna finds her voice in the growing turmoil of the civil unrest in Poland herself. Caught in the middle between Prussia, Austria and Russia, Poland was fighting for her new constitution that gave the peasants rights. On the international front, everyone was mesmerized by the events sweeping across France during her revolution.

Anna is portrayed as a sheltered young girl of the noble class and she grows up among the civil unrest. Zofia, her cousin, is not as well portrayed as Anna is and she walks among the nobles in opulent parties and masquerade balls and as the king's sometime mistress. The descriptions of the parties and lifestyles remind me of the rich and famous magazines that we see nowadays. It's opulent and sometimes just a little too much. Martin made Anna the character who thought so too.

It is a sweeping story ~~ very interesting and descriptive of the times.
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