About This Blog

This blog was started as a place to post book reviews. The books reviewed here will be mixed. Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, General Fiction, NonFiction and more. Both positve and negative reviews will be posted, as well as reviews for books written for all ages and all reading levels.

Many of the books reviewed here are ones that I have purchased for my own reading pleasure. Some, I receive free in exchange for reviews. Beginning in December, 2009 you will know which are the free ones if you read the final paragraph of my reviews.

Also of note: I choose what I will read, attempting to avoid the books on which I would end up writing a negative review... but I have been known to make mistakes. Thus you see some one and two star reviews here. Since I don't enjoy writing negative reviews, I only write them if the review was promised, or if the book was so exceedingly bad, I just had to say so. Regardless of the percentage of positive to negative reviews on this blog, I give my honest opinion each and every time, and have never received financial compensation for posting my reviews.

Note that, except for fair use portions quoted from some of the books reviewed, all copyright in the content of the reviews belongs to Lady Dragoness.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Arranged Marriage

The River Between
Jacquelyn Cook
Bell Bridge Books (1985)
Paperback, 166 pages
Rated 3 stars of 5 possible

The River Between is a historical fiction novel set in the pre-civil war south. It is also a light, fluffy, formulaic romance with a slightly over-used plot, and a few problems. I like the historical aspect and the setting; however, these lead to problem #1. There was not enough history and description to make for a really nice setting. The historical information becomes a backdrop in this situation; not entirely bad, but it does not add much to the story.

Eighteen-year-old Lily Edwards is likeable, as are several other characters in the story, but she is far too docile, which leads to the story having less action and therefore less appeal; which becomes problem #2. There is no clear villain in the story. The conflict between Lily and her parents does not stand out enough to move the story along quickly; problem #3. Resolution for problems two and three would be to provide more action and more conflict, and perhaps a bit of drama.  These would have made the story much more appealing.

Problem #4.  Lily's strong Christian faith seems to be off-putting to some reviewers who were probably, like myself, attracted to the historical aspects of the story. This is a lot for such a short novel, especially since the last half comes on stronger than the first half; perhaps moderating the preachiness would have been helpful.

Despite these problems, however, The River Between does raise a few points that would be good for discussion in a reading group or classroom situation.  Arranged marriage vs. marriage for love; the concepts of social equality (and the assumption that some are more socially equal than others); the attitudes of Lily's parents, especially the mother; and Lily's own statement of realization that she cannot be both her mother's baby and an adult at the same time. I was glad to see that Lily's mother finally realized that's what she was expecting Lily to do, yet I would liked to have seen this be more of a conflict.

Given the above, and recognizing that The River Between is but one third of a trilogy, I'd say this book would appeal mostly to those readers who like the light and fluffy romances. Readers looking for something with historical content should probably pass this by in favor of something longer and more detailed.  The River Between is a sweet, likeable story but just doesn't constitute the detailed historical novel that many readers appreciate.

The River Between was provided to me free by the publisher in PDF galley format for review. This review was simultaneously published on LibraryThing, and Dragon Views.

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