*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: Beyond the Wild River
Author: Sarah Maine
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: April 18, 2017
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Nineteen-year-old Evelyn Ballantyre has always done her duty as a daughter, hiding her boredom and resentment behind good manners—so when an innocent friendship with a servant is misinterpreted by her father as an illicit union, Evelyn is appalled. Yet the consequence is a welcome one: she is to accompany her father on a trip to North America, where they’ll visit New York City, the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, and conclude with a fishing expedition on the Nipigon River in Canada. Now is her chance to escape her cloistered life, see the world, and reconnect with her father. Once they’re on the Nipigon, however, Evelyn is shocked to discover that their guide is James Douglas, the former stable hand and her one-time friend who disappeared from the estate after the shootings of a poacher and a gamekeeper. Many had assumed that James had been responsible, but Evelyn never could believe it. Now, in the wilds of a new world, far from the constraints of polite society, the truth about that day, James, and her father will be revealed…to stunning consequences.
It’s not often that I pick up a historical novel, so I did feel a little out of my element reading Beyond the Wild River, however I will say that I was actually quite surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It’s a story of a young woman, Evelyn, who is coming to understand her world as she grows up, and doesn’t always like what she sees there. She wants to be a part of something bigger, to make a change, but as a young woman in the late-Nineteenth Century, she faces a lot of restrictions. Along side her growing up, her father is amassing his wealth and building his reputation and is building relationships with men who are expressing their interest in this his daughter. This novel entwines business deals with romance, adventure with ambition, betrayal with intrigue.
What really stuck with me was the second half of the novel. In my opinion, the book gets off to a slow start. I attribute this to my lack of familiarity with reading historical fiction. It’s always a shift and takes some time to get used to. As the novel develops, however, Maine reveals many intricacies about her characters and the plot. Her characters have hidden stories and many secrets. A covered up murder shows that there is more to the story than what meets the eye. People are not who we the reader, nor the characters in the book, expect. There are many twists and turns as the story progresses. I really got sucked into the book as it went along and as the story turns into more of an adventure and found myself eager to keep reading as I neared the end.
Overall, I thought that Beyond the Wild River is a very interesting tale with some unexpected twists. Evelyn is a compelling character who really comes into her own as the story progresses. This book is as much a coming-of-age story for her as it is a suspenseful tale of murder, deceit, and fortune. In the peak of the action, it’s full of heart-stopping moments. I think any lover of turn-of-the-century historical fiction will really like this particular read.