A Quietly Commanding Epic: Read Our Review of Go As A River by Shelley Read

A Quietly Commanding Epic: Read Our Review of Go As A River by Shelley Read

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, then heads into the village. As she nears an intersection, 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 lush, immersive tale of a young woman’s journey to becoming, of love and loss, and of finding home and resilience where least expected. It is also 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.

While this is – astonishingly – Read’s debut novel, she has taught writing, literature and environmental studies at Western Colorado University for almost three decades, and her love for and intimate knowledge of the Gunnison Valley and surrounding landscape shines through on every page of this work. Go As A River will sweep you away to the breathtaking Colorado countryside, and the Nash family orchard.

Read starts Go As A River with an epigraph from Annie Dillard, and the influence of Dillard’s flowing yet incisive style, with her astute observations of the natural world and the idiosyncrasies of human behaviour within it, is clearly evident in Read’s prose.

Like Dillard, Read draws on the natural landscape to make sense of the cruelty of humanity: while hardship and suffering are inevitable, so too is the new life that comes each spring. We learn this invaluable life lesson alongside the novel’s protagonist and narrator; Victoria’s resilience and commitment to living a good life in the face of unthinkable hardship make this a magnetic and unforgettable journey.

Still waters run deep, as the saying goes, and I would describe Go As A River as an understated epic that seems to unfurl from the very heart of its resolute narrator. The harshest of realities –racism, ostracization, loss and war – are approached with unflinching composure, and Read ultimately delivers us to a place where hope, community, and light all flourish.

There is a quietly commanding power to this novel that will stay with its readers long after they finish it. I closed this book with a conviction that to live well and authentically is a choice that we make in our everyday actions.

Buy a copy of Go As A River here.

 

Reviews

Q&A: Shelley Read, Author of Go as a River

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Q&A: Shelley Read, Author of Go as a River

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      10 March 2023

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          Publisher details

          Go as a River
          Author
          Shelley Read
          Publisher
          Penguin
          Genre
          Fiction
          Released
          07 March, 2023
          ISBN
          9780857529411

          Synopsis

          Sometimes you must carve your own path.

          On a cool autumn morning, Victoria Nash heads into her village pulling a rickety wagon filled with late-season peaches. As she nears an intersection, a stranger in town stops to ask her the way.

          She makes the decision to walk with him. 'Go as a river,' he tells her as they part ways.

          So begins a mezmerising story of split-second decisions and considered acts that make up one woman's tumultuous life, as Victoria begins to absorb and follow his words.

          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.
          Shelley Read
          About the author

          Shelley Read

          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. GO AS A RIVER, her first novel, is inspired by the landscape she comes from and will be published in over twenty-five territories.

          Books by Shelley Read

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