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Tumultuous times in late 18th-century Poland are the backdrop for this stiffly written historical romance based on the unpublished diary of Countess Anna Maria Berezowska.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.
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"Based on an actual 18th century diary, the narrative . . . holds reader because of the cast of well-developed characters and the need to see how Anna and her young son will survive the latest crisis." Library Journal
"James Conroyd Martin is in every way a modern day Henryk Sienkiewicz, weaving history and stories together in an accessible and thrilling manner." Dr. Donald Pienkos, Political Science Professor Emeritus, UWMilwaukee
"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. . . .Anna Maria's story is at once timeless and timely." India Edghill, author of QUEENMAKER and DELILAH.
"Enthralling. PUSH NOT THE RIVER is a wonderful historical saga in the grand romantic style. The plot never lets up: it gallops at breakneck speed through a vividly portrayed landscape." Jane Feather, bestselling author of THE EMERALD SWAN
"Aristocrats and peasant, patriots and traitors, all come alive in this story, and the Polish soul is beautifully illuminated through ancient myths, folkways, and wisdoms." Jennifer Donnelly, author of THE TEA ROSE