Published: 13 April 2023
Author: Shelley Read
Published by: Doubleday
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Length: 320 pages
Reading dates: 10-14 April 2023
On a cool autumn day in 1948, Victoria Nash delivers late-season peaches from her family’s farm set amid the wild beauty of Colorado. As she heads into her village, a dishevelled stranger stops to ask her the way. How she chooses to answer will unknowingly alter the course of both their young lives.
So begins the mesmerising story of split-second choices and courageous acts that propel Victoria away from the only home she has ever known and towards a reckoning with loss, hope and her own untapped strength.
Gathering all the pieces of her small and extraordinary existence, spinning through the eddies of desire, heartbreak and betrayal, she will arrive at a single rocky decision that will change her life for ever.
GO AS A RIVER is a heart-wrenching coming-of-age story and a drama of enthralling power. Combining unforgettable characters and a breathtaking natural setting, it is a sweeping story of survival and becoming, of the deepest mysteries of love, truth and fate.
I’d been seeing Go As A River one around for a while and the positive reviews from everyone who I’d seen reviewed it certainly put this on my radar so when the lovely Alison Barrow offered me a proof copy, I jumped at the chance.
Victoria Nash has grown up on a peach farm in the foothills of the Elk Mountains in Colorado – she lost her mother at the age of just 12 and since that moment settled into the role of caring for the men she lives with – her good for nothing brother Seth, her father and her disabled Uncle.
It is 1948 when 17 year old Victoria meets the boy who will change the life forever. When Wilson Moon asks her for directions, she feels an instant connection to him but as a native Indian, he is disliked and distrusted by the town folk and especially her brother Seth. Despite this they start a romance that will have devastating consequences.
Go As A River is an epic drama that follows Victoria and the tough and brave decisions she has to make as she makes her own way through life. It is a heart-breaking yet positive read. Motherhood is an overriding theme of the book – Victoria describes how she misses her mother, especially when she herself starts to become a woman. She describes how she wishes she had someone she could discuss her feelings about Wil to (but acknowledges to herself that she probably didn’t have that sort of relationship with her mother).
The book follows Victoria until 1971 with another theme being war. She describes how her Uncle arrived home from the 2nd World War having lost his legs and as the Vietnam war begins in the 1960s, the horror of conscription is addressed. I hadn’t realised that boys were called up depending on what day their birthday fell on!
I mentioned on Twitter last week how I’d given up on a proof copy of a book which I was struggling with and Go As A River was the next book I picked up. It made me realise that life is too short to read a book I’m not enjoying, especially when there are books like this to discover. I’m sure this will be one of my books of 2023 and I hope it is a huge success because it is just wonderful (and has left me with a serious craving for peaches!)
I was lucky enough to be sent a beautiful proof copy from the lovely Alison Barrow and have since purchased a hardback copy for my forever shelves.
About the author
Shelley Read is a fifth generation Coloradoan who lives with her family in the Elk Mountains of the Western Slope. She was a Senior Lecturer at Western Colorado University for nearly three decades, where she taught writing, literature, environmental studies, and Honors, and was a founder of the Environment & Sustainability major and a support program for first-generation and at-risk students. Shelley holds degrees in writing and literary studies from the University of Denver and Temple University’s Graduate Program in Creative Writing. She is a regular contributor to Crested Butte Magazine and Gunnison Valley Journal, and has written for the Denver Post and a variety of publications.
This sounds like a very powerful story. Wonderful review, Clair.