With much more heft and substance than I first thought it would contain, The River by Starlight is the story of one woman's life. Annie Rushton follows her brother to a farm in Montana in 1911, and works there with him to eke out some kind of existence from the ground. Having already suffered the worst of blows in her young life, Annie is a strong and capable woman. Yet there's a hidden thread of horror that she carries within her, and it will come to mark and complicate the entirety of her life. Really well done, don't miss this personal account based on the true life stories of real people. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Moving away from unsettling pasts and thrown together by circumstance, Montana homesteaders Annie Rushton and Adam Fielding are bound by a potent chemistry they don't recognize as love. Against a backdrop of economic boom and bust, catastrophic climate events and war, they marry hopefully and prosper but briefly, overtaken by personal and natural disaster dominated by Annie's episodic post-partum psychosis. One will meet the challenge with unforgettable resilience. One will be broken by it.
Despite iron nerve and determination, Annie's periods of depthless depression and violent episodes shatter her life and extract a terrible price. As the town she calls home turns against her, her allies and options are few, forcing her into the only treatment available: involuntary commitment to the State Hospital for the insane. From there, Annie begins her tenacious quest for control over her destiny as a woman, mother, and lover. A century-old story as relevant as ever to women today, The River by Starlight reaches across the years with a compelling message for our own time: that healing and reconciliation can emerge from devastating emotional and financial wreckage.
Her brother's letter touched a match to the wick of Annie's doused dreams. Dream enough for her, to stroll the length of a town without the abortive glances, the stilted greetings, the wider berth given her on the sidewalk. "I could use some help out here," he wrote. "What's holding you to Iowa anyway?"
Annie Rushton leaves behind an unsettling past to join her brother on his Montana homestead and make a determined fresh start. There, sparks fly when she tangles with Adam Fielding, a visionary businessman-farmer determined to make his own way and answer to no one. Neither is looking for a partner, but they give in to their undeniable chemistry.
Annie and Adam's marriage brims with astounding success and unanticipated passion, but their dream of having a child eludes them as a mysterious illness of mind and body plagues Annie's pregnancies. Amidst deepening economic adversity, natural disaster, and the onset of world war, their personal struggles collide with the societal mores of the day. Annie's shattering periods of black depression and violent outbursts exact a terrible price. The life the Fieldings have forged begins to unravel, and the only path ahead leads to unthinkable loss.
Based on true events, this sweeping novel weaves a century-old story, timeless in its telling of love, heartbreak, healing, and redemption embodied in one woman's tenacious quest for control over her own destiny in the face of devastating misfortune and social injustice.