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River of the Brokenhearted [Kindle Edition]

David Adams Richards
2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

From the author of the Giller Prize-winning novel Mercy Among the Children comes the utterly beguiling, big-hearted story of one woman's resolute struggle to overcome small-town prejudice and deceit. Spanning generations, River of the Brokenhearted explores the life and legacy of Janie McCleary, a brave Irish Catholic girl who dared to marry a man from the Church of England. Their union is quickly deemed scandalous, and when her husband dies just before the Great Depression, everyone in town, led by the unscrupulous Joey Elias, turns against her. Janie is left alone to raise a family. Her solution is to open one of the first movie theaters in North America, which she runs with such success that she manages to ostracize herself even further. She is a pioneer before the age of feminism, and the burden of her salty individualism will shape the lives of her children and grandchildren. Written with compassion and mastery, River of the Brokenhearted muses on the tyranny of memory and history, and peers into the hearts of extraordinary characters, where Richards finds an alchemy of venality and goodwill, deceit and brotherliness, and marked cruelty and true love. Once again, David Adams Richards has brought us a work of astonishing grace, rooted in his special territory on the great river of New Brunswick, but firmly universal in scope.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Set in a small town on a river in New Brunswick, River of the Brokenhearted, David Adams Richards's first novel since his Giller Prize-winning Mercy Among the Children, is told by Wendell King, son of Miles King and grandson of the feisty, willful Janie McLeary King, who made her fortune running the town's first cinema. Set against this trio is the lower-class family of the Drukens, especially Rebecca Druken and her uncle, Joey Elias, bitter because their own early cinema failed. Established early on, the feud plays out across three generations, spanning successes, failures, murder, and dissolution. Yet despite the somewhat bleak subject matter, tremendous humour and vitality persist in this story. The characters leap off the page, and in the person of Miles King, Richards has imagined a fully human soul of stunning believability. Miles is fatally flawed, committing slow suicide by gin as his cinema too begins to fail in the face of the TV's small screen. A sensitive eccentric, a target of small-town narrowness, he is subtly tortured psychically, for years, by Elias and the vicious Rebecca, who have made the downfall of the Kings their life's ambition. Miles King is a character of great loneliness, pathos, humor, and compassion, one of the finest creations not only of Canadian writing but any literature.

River of the Brokenhearted is the story of a river, the Miramichi, but it is mostly about the river of time that passes through Miles King, his mother, his son, and their enemies, carrying all to their ultimate fates: "She had left a river in New Brunswick that would swallow you with its life, shout in its rapids, laugh in its eddies, create industry in its currents, a river of Irish and Scottish myth, wedded to the soil." An outstanding work of fiction. --Mark Frutkin

From Publishers Weekly

Richards, acclaimed in his native Canada, draws on his grandmother's life to provide emotional resonance for his latest novel (after 2001's Mercy Among the Children), a multigenerational family saga in which some generations are considerably more interesting than others. The narrator's grandmother, Hanna Jane (Janie) McLeary, is born toward the end of the 19th century in a small New Brunswick village. At 20 she marries an older Englishman, George King, who is poor in health as well as purse. They open a small cinema, which outdraws the town's other theater, owned by Joey Elias. When King dies, Janie has a son, Miles, and a daughter on the way—surely she can't also run a theater. Elias cunningly uses her bank's manager and her own father in attempts to gain control of her business, but Janie remains steadfast in the face of whispered scandal and threats of violence. But while she manages to keep her theater, tragedy strikes—her father is killed, and her daughter disappears while in the care of her son. Janie's story is fascinating, but while Richards' depiction of character and place remain consistently strong, the narrative slows as it focuses on her son and grandson. The trials of the family as its members progressively succumb to failure and alcoholism (even as they keep the theater running) are well drawn, but as Janie's descendants learn little from their mistakes, the tale becomes less involving. An unexpected deus ex machina in the last pages forces a rather unlikely happy ending onto a story that had been, until that point, entirely believable if not particularly memorable.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 938 KB
  • Print Length: 450 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0385658885
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing (January 12, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006Z8RNW4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #266,737 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unraveling the Laws of Human Morality... December 5, 2004
Format:Hardcover
This is the best book that I have read in a long time. David Adams Richards writes about dichotomous themes--good and evil, love and hate--in a world that seems to have lost its sense of distinction between such binary oppositions. Richards's novel spans four generations and tells the story of two families--the Drukens and the Mclearys--and their conflict-ridden estrangement from themselves and from each other. Janie Mcleary, the protagonist, is an assertive and successful business woman who is left widowed by her husband. She and her children are tormented by the Druken family. Her daughter, Georgina, is murdered and her son, Miles, grows up to be ghosted by his past. Characters in this novel are haunted by memories and stuggle with their faith, morality and integrity. Richard's capacity as an author, stems, in part, from his astute perception into the nature of human greed and faith. River of the Brokenhearted is not a sensuous romance novel; it is a journey into the moral struggles of humanity. Richards conveys the notion that the "good" people and the "bad" people are not always cut in black and white colors; some seemingly "immoral" characters (i.e. Miles the alcoholic) emerge as the unsaid heroes of this text. Past wrongs are translated into bodily ailments that afflict the characters on a physical level, but these wrongs are erasable. Characters are given the chance of redemption. This book resonates with spiritual undertones. It may increase your faith...
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Northern sorrows May 7, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
David Adams Richards, the Bard of Miramichi, follows in the tradition of Margaret Laurence, Alice Munro et al in mining the stifling sorrows of small-town Canadian life, in his case remote New Brunswick where this tale of two feuding families unfolds with elegant, relentless grace. Adams's sparse, precise prose creates a spellbinding novel at once genuine and persuasive, thanks in part to its narrative point of view. The story, which takes place mostly in the late 1930s and 1940, is told by the grandson of the book's self-made central character, Janie McLeary King. Now middle-aged, he reconstructs with a sober, cool-eyed neutrality the legacy that has shaped his own life.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't wait to put it down... forever... July 18, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Found this an extremely tedious read... pathetic characters ... from over the top evil to simply ignorant.. I cannot remember laughing, not even chuckling, once through this whole story. I only read it all the way through because I was hoping for at least one redemption of a character in this book. Never happened. Glad the torture of finishing this book is complete.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great history but a little long December 5, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The history is amazing but I found the story went a little long. The story is a little dark but I myself like dark tales. All in all a good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surgical Skill September 6, 2012
By kschra
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was in the same style as Bay of Love and Sorrows.The Bay of Love and Sorrows I like how Richards fillets the bone from the marrow of human thought and intent. It is revealing and left me confronting some of my own alterior motives. The setting was throughly Canadian as were the immigrant characters. Definitley worth the time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great writing August 11, 2012
By Elle
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Wonderful book - well written. The book was a quick read and moved smoothly. I would like to read more books by this author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good read..... August 9, 2012
By suzie
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is a good read. A little slower moving than I prefer in a book. One of those books I could put down, but would come back to.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Life at it's lowest July 1, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Due to two excellent reviews, I looked forward to reading this book. Unfortunately, I found it very difficult to read, from the alcoholism of the major characters who seemed to be extremely gullible, to the cruelty of the townspeople. While well written, I just couldn't find any redeeming quality to the story.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars just okay
I thought the book drug on with very little action. I considered not finishing it when I was about half way through the book but I always finish books. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Barbara J. Dickson
1.0 out of 5 stars terrible would not recommend it to anyone!
Terrible - would not recommend it to anyone. Too long and drawn out. Thought it would never end! Too many plots.
Published 2 months ago by janice freneaux
5.0 out of 5 stars The river is well recevied
I had no clue what this book would really be like but was pleasantly surprised by the way it held my interest. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Maggie Church
3.0 out of 5 stars Kind of depressing
It's depressing to think that so many people would be this petty, not a good thought or a uplifting book
Published 18 months ago by Terri May
1.0 out of 5 stars have to agree with "couldn't wait to put it down"
I kept reading this book hoping it would get better. Got through about half before giving up. Couldn't take any more. Sorry I actually purchased it. Definitely a downer. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars Hard to Read
I purchased this while it was $2, thinking I'd expand my reading topics. I can't finish the book. I think it could have been a good book - but the speach patters the charactors... Read more
Published 22 months ago by LHB
3.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous and flawed
Parts of this book were glorious. Parts were drudgery. I enjoyed it overall, but feel it could have been edited down by about 1/4. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Terri
1.0 out of 5 stars river of the broken hearted
Book started out slow but usually after a few chapter it picks up. Got half way through and shut it down. Draggy, awful.
Published 23 months ago by Roxanne M. Mottola
1.0 out of 5 stars Depressing, with no redeeming value
I read a wide variety of books but have to question my judgment in buying and wasting my time reading this one. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Clare49
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