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The River House: A Novel Hardcover – June 21, 2005

3.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Leroy's second U.S. release (Postcards from Berlin), heroine Ginnie Holmes—a respected psychologist and mother of two—shakes up her comfy, middle-aged life by embarking on a passionate affair with a married man. The duo throw caution—and their bare behinds—to the wind every Thursday afternoon in trysts along deserted, woody banks of the Thames. As it gets colder outside, Ginnie and Will (aka Detective Inspector Hampden) seek privacy in an abandoned river house. One day, "entangled" inside with her "smoke and cinnamon" scented lover, Ginnie spies a suspicious-looking man by the river. Initially unnerved, she dismisses her reaction as projected guilt—until a woman is found murdered near that very spot. Thus begins the real conflict in this atmospheric love –story–cum–psychological thriller. Should Ginnie remain silent, potentially allowing a murderer to go free? Or should she speak up, and thereby expose her affair and ruin two marriages? As she frets over the decision, all the while juggling a career, an emotionally aloof husband, a difficult 16-year-old daughter and an ailing mother, Ginnie seems less a heroine and more a hapless fly caught in a moral spider web. Leroy manages to make Ginnie sympathetic—even though she isn't always likable—and her dilemma chillingly real.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

To saints and altruists, perhaps, the question of doing the right thing is never a difficult choice. For the rest of us, however, such black-and-white situations are often more familiarly cast in myriad shades of gray. Such an intricate moral conundrum lies at the core of Leroy's cautionary tale of desire and passion versus responsibility and loyalty, in which a middle-aged wife and mother jeopardizes her family's security when she enters into a furtive love affair. Set adrift in an emotionally bankrupt marriage, Ginnie Holmes is receptive to the advances of a handsome colleague, their weekly assignations quickly becoming the touchstone of her life. When she witnesses the aftermath of a brutal murder during one of their trysts, Ginnie is faced with the dilemma of concealing what she knows and protecting her affair or publicly testifying and destroying her family. Leroy's sensuously ethereal, subtly electric drama discerningly probes the affective fragility of a woman struggling to preserve all she holds dear, without losing herself in the process. Carol Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (June 21, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316741574
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316741576
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,348,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
One of my favorite books is Margaret Leroy's The Soldier's Wife, and I was not completely disappointed with this novel. However, while Ms. Leroy's writing is impeccable, the story here is somewhat implausible. The heroine Ginnie Holmes is a psychologist and mother of two who is dissatisfied with her marriage and despairing of her teenage daughter's behavior. Quite by chance, she meets and begins a torrid affair with a married law enforcement officer, Will Hampden. Every Thursday afternoon they meet in an abandoned cottage hidden in the woods alongside the river. It is obvious that their relationship is going nowhere, when suddenly everything is upended. During one of their trysts, Ginnie sees something suspicious on the river path outside the cottage. Only after the fact does she connect the dots between what she saw and the murdered woman found nearby. The dilemma -- speak out about what she saw and risk ruining two marriages, or keep silent and allow a crime to go unpunished? For me, the story unravels at this point, and while this book kept my interest throughout, I much preferred Ms. Leroy's The Soldier's Wife and Postcards From Berlin.
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Format: Hardcover
The River House is a novel that accurately portrays what happens to many of us as we age and realize that dreams usually don't come true in the ways we quite hoped. When we're younger and more ambitious, we hold on to things that give us security to make it through the days, thinking that these very things will be the ones that will enable us to achieve the most and become our best.

Ginnie, the main character in the novel, is one of those women. She has devoted her life to her two children, Amber and Molly, and her career as a psychologist helping troubled children.

Unfortunately, her marriage is more of a close friendship. Her husband and her haven't made love in years and marriage counseling has failed.

When her older daughter, Molly, moves out for school, she thinks that time alone is what they need to reclaim magic they never really had. But she finds out the magic isn't there because it's not possible. Sinking into a depression that is flavored by a personal friend's unhappiness with her own life, she eventually allows herself to be pulled into passion for the first time.

These internal struggles are the real heart of The River House. Ginnie is a sympathetic, believable character who doesn't necessarily make the most socially accepted choices, but she does this with a heavy conscience and something that we can all relate to.

Her grief, exhaustion, and hunger for youth and real attention will get to you. It reminds the reader that life truly is short and that you need to make the right choices when you can.

It's never easy to tell what's really important and valuable, no matter how old you are or what position of life you're in. You have to sacrifice greatly at times and it's not always fair.
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Format: Hardcover
Margaret Leroy has a lyrical way with description, especially of the wooded areas along the Thames, so it's disappointing that her characters are poorly drawn.

It doesn't ring true for a trained child psychologist not to care that her 16-year-old daughter fails to do school assignments and stays out till the wee hours drinking and having sex with boys she meets in bars. Her husband is not just emotionally distant, he's actively hostile to their daughters, with no explanation. Dialogue between characters is implausible.

But what I found most irritating was that the educated, intelligent heroine caused dreadful grief to people she loved, when thoughtful planning could have achieved her goal of identifying a criminal while protecting everyone else. She seemed incomprehensibly determined to do it in the most destructive way.

This was an interesting plot; it deserved more believable characters and a better resolution.
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Format: Hardcover
Ginnie Holmes, a psychologist, lives in a house in London near the Thames River, with her husband, Greg, and sixteen-year old daughter, Amber. Another daughter, Molly, has just left for college. Ginny has grown comfortable with her life, in spite of the noticeable emotional distance from Greg, who is writing a book and plans to sleep in Molly's newly vacated room until he has finished. At her job, working with a traumatized young boy, Ginnie requests additional information from a detective who was once called to the boy's house; Ginnie hopes the detective can add some insights into the boy's lack of responsiveness in therapy. When Ginnie meets Will Hampton, the two are instantly attracted. Never before unfaithful to Greg, Ginnie is amazed how easily she falls into a clandestine affair with Will. The couple has little privacy until they discover a deserted, ramshackle house on the Thames during one of their walks, with enough privacy to shield them from prying eyes. The shabby river house becomes a haven for their weekly rendezvous. Then there is a brutal murder near the river house; the careful security Ginnie has relished is replaced by fear and imminent danger.

A woman of a certain age, Ginnie has, for the most part, treasured her life, her job, husband and daughters, vaguely aware of the absence of passion in her marriage. When she begins the romantic liaison with Will, she attempts to compartmentalize, deceiving herself that these two worlds will never infringe on each other. The brutal crime changes this blissful isolation and Ginnie is forced top confront the ugly reality of infidelity: that others, by association, are involved and can be wounded.
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