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The River Wife Audible – Unabridged

4.1 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Format: Hardcover
Received from Random House as part of the early readers program.

Agee deftly interweaves the stories of four women in this historical novel. The book is centered around the four most important women in the life of French fur-trapper Jacques Ducharme. Ducharme's legacy stretches from the grave across four generations to impact the lives of all who call Jacques' Landing their home.
Set in Mississippi during the nineteenth century, The River Wife, mixes history, life style, a bit of mysticism and some great story telling to bring to life the saga of the those who settle in Jacques Landing.
I read one other novel of Agee's, many years ago. After completing this book I will be hunting down some of her prior titles. Agee tells a great tale, she is able to thread the past and the present together in a seemless manner.
I was a book seller in a small independant bookstore that has been forced to close it's doors. I know how important recommendations are to those who are looking for something new to read. The River Wife would be one of those titles I would be highly recommending to customers. The book would make a great "book club" read.
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By VTS on September 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
On February 7, 1812 the New Madrid earthquake - the largest quake ever recorded in the United States - hit Annie Lark's Missouri house, trapping her beneath a roof beam. Unable to move the massive timber and terrified by the aftershocks, her family decides to leave the sixteen year old girl to her fate, but death is slow coming and she lingers until a French fur trapper named, Jacques Ducharme, rescues her days later. What follows is the story of Annie's life as Jacques' "river wife," which Jacques' descendant Hedie Ducharme discovers among the family papers along with the histories of three other Ducharme women. Together these stories take the reader from 1812 Missouri, through the Civil War and up to the bootlegging days of the 1930's. I was riveted by Annie's story. Her legs never fully recover from their earthquake trauma and her fearless determination to adapt to both this setback and the rough, sometimes violent, life she leads with Jacques is captivating. Agee's skill as a storyteller is evident throughout the novel, yet, try as I might, once the novel shifted away from Annie I wasn't able to maintain my initial interest. I enjoyed the tales of Omah, Laura and Maddie, but Hedie's story is lukewarm at best. While the other women are strong willed and clever in their own ways, Hedie is timid and willfully ignorant of her husband's true nature. There were more than a few moments when I couldn't help but think, "Come on Hedie, you haven't figured it all out yet? Gimme a break." Hedie's story is interspersed between chapters, so naturally her character influences the entire novel - especially the ending, which uses her life to conclude the Ducharme tale.
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Format: Paperback
Agee's fascinating story bridges the lives of two women over a century apart, Annie Lark Ducharme and Hedie Rails Ducharme. Annie is trapped in the earthquake of 1811, her family's cabin near the mighty Mississippi collapsing in the earth's sudden violence. Immobilized by a roof beam, Annie is left to die by her family, clinging to life day by day while in agonizing pain. When French trapper and river pirate, Jacques Ducharme, rescues the helpless girl, it is inevitable that she fall in love with this rough but tender man who wants only to protect her and build a home that will stand as a testament to them, Jacques Landing, a place of refuge for weary river travelers and traders. Annie becomes his "river wife", living rough until they return to the banks of the river and begin building Jacques' dream, Annie pregnant with their child. The building progresses against all odds, although Jacques and his cohorts revert to their piracy to find the means.

Despite her older husband's flaws, Annie is happy, reluctant to defy this man of such great ambition. Then a truly monstrous event destroys any forgiveness that exists between them, neither able to recapture their prior hopefulness. Though other Ducharme women people Jacques' life, including his second wife, Laura Burke Shut Ducharme, who gives an ageing man a new lease on life, none can replace his passion for Annie. In 1930, Hedie Rails Ducharme arrives, the naïve young bride of the older Clement Ducharme, returning with him to Jacques Landing where they act out the fate of a family blighted by tragedy and ill-starred relationships.
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Format: Hardcover
I wont tell you what the book's about because both the editorial and private reviews have done that very well. I needed to write this review because this is the most powerful book I've read in over 15 years. I am listening to the audio version and am about halfway through it. This book touched me and for a while had me bawling my eyes out. For quite a while...and I don't cry easily. I can only guess that the bad reviews are by people who haven't experienced some of these things. I will definitely read the other books by this treasured author.
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