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The River King Kindle Edition
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About the Author
A cogent warning indeed, for as in all of Hoffman's novels, the question of whom one chooses to love and who loves in return is the crux of the matter. The River King revolves around triangles. First there is Betsy Chase, a young photography teacher at the Haddan School who has gotten herself engaged--almost accidentally--to a fellow faculty member, even as she is inexorably drawn to Abel Grey, a town policeman. Then there are Carlin Leander, a scholarship student, and her best friend, Gus Pierce. While Carlin is able to fit in, even attracting the interest of the most popular boy on campus, Gus is a defiant outcast, a tall skinny kid in a long black overcoat "who viewed his own life as a prison sentence and experienced his existence much as a condemned man might." Carlin's romance with the charismatic, cruel Harry McKenna creates a rupture between her and Gus, and fuels a mean-spirited practical joke with horrific consequences. In the aftermath of tragedy, each character's heart, conscience, and courage is tested in unexpected ways.
Hoffman spins her web of love and heartbreak and transcendence with a sure hand, and in the process creates characters so palpably human in all their petty flaws and small instances of heroism that one almost expects them to step out of the book and into the room. Indeed, if there is a flaw in The River King, it is that Alice Hoffman doesn't always trust the magic inherent in her characters, relying a little too heavily at times on somewhat precious invocations of the otherworldly. But this is a minor defect in an otherwise satisfying novel, one that will keep the reader spellbound by its emotional complexity and compelling story. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B001R11C7Q
- Publisher : Berkley; Reissue edition (July 1, 2001)
- Publication date : July 1, 2001
- Language : English
- File size : 604 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 270 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #364,982 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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In THE RIVER KING, Ms. Hoffman tells the story of a small town in Massachusetts...she divides the town into the haves and the have nots. An elite private school adds to the class distinctions.
When one of Haddan School's students is found drowned in the troubled Haddan River, city and students alike are effected.
Haddan School's own troubled past becomes part of Hoffman's tapestry. The fragrance of roses appears in the middle of winter. Fish appear out of nowhere. The dead boy's image shows up in photographs. Bees swarm in October. Mysterious illness strikes students. No one rests until the mystery is solved.
THE RIVER KING is one of Hoffman's best efforts. It is not light, easy, summertime reading. It is to be savored and will linger with you long after you've finished. Like Hoffman's past work, some mysteries are solved. Some will never be.
That's what it's like to read a good Alice Hoffman story.
The plot did not deserve this ending. I'm left feeling very unfulfilled. I'm not even certain of the reason for the name of the book, let alone why one of the better characters is killed off early on and we're not ever given a satisfactory reason. And then other characters appear but don't seem to stay around of have any purpose, like Sean Byers.
And Betsy running away with Abe???? The pharmacist suddenly discussing everything with his wife. This isn't the result of magic, but lack of imagination maybe? None of the actions or character/plotline prepares the reader for the way Alice wraps up a tidy little ending, unfit for the great beginning. Quite a let down. Did Alice run out of steam on this one? I won't give up on Hoffman, but this was not her best effort.
Ms. Hoffman's subjects are quite moving. While death and love are her subjects, the possibility of love bridging the gulf between life and death is gently, subtly probed. In my own case, it's not minnows. It's red balloons.
A fine work; you'll find yourself looking up from the book from time-to-time and savoring the images she has invoked, and of loved ones living and dead.
Top reviews from other countries
What I love about this is what I love about all her novels - the wry, poetic prose style, the brilliant characters, the literary sensibility married to a solid, meaty plot - and most of all, the generous compassion she has for all these flawed, unhappy people. Hoffman, I sense, believes in people, that they are fundamentally good (With one or two exceptions) and that makes a refreshing change from much of modern fiction.
The River King is a literary novel with the plot motor of a murder-mystery. A bullied student at the snobbish, privileged Haddan School is found dead, floating in the nearby river, and the story then investigates the lives of the student, his friends and enemies, his teachers, and that of a righteous, honest police detective who senses that the death was not suicide and who investigates mulishly, doggedly, tirelessly, even though he puts his own friendships and livelihood at risk. You'll end up wanting this guy to be your dad.
And while this goes on the story comments on so much else - loneliness, bullying, the horrible practice of "hazing", of guilt-by-proxy, of strange weather, of unreasonable parental pressure, of small, poor lives given a new chance, of the resentment of townsfolk for the rich students of the posh school across the road, of wrong choices, and above all of love, and redemption, and hope.
And a one-eyed cat, and some very surly swans.
What I found bogged me down were the innumerable reminiscences and anecdotes. They dragged on for ages, sometimes in the middle of an interesting event.
The result was a lot of skipping, I'm afraid, without losing the essence of the plot or missing character development or important threads.
I have always found insights into human character and ideas which make me rethink my own attitudes to people.