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River Of Dust (2013)

by Virginia Pye(Favorite Author)
3.43 of 5 Votes: 1
1609530934 (ISBN13: 9781609530938)
Unbridled Books
review 1: A well written book with intense and interesting characters. The entire book is pervaded by a sense of loss, which the Reverend and his wife, Grace experience in the opening chapter with the kidnapping of their toddler son, Wesley. Missionaries who's goal is to share the gospel to the Chinese country people, they are soon enveloped by fate and destiny. Secondary characters, Mai Lin and Ahcho, an old Chinese man and woman, lend a vital perspective to the novel. Ahcho is the Reverend's number one man and a staunch supporter of the Reverend and the Christian faith. Mai Lin is Grace's amah. She is well schooled in the healing arts of the old way and saves Grace's life many times. Mai Lin says, "Fate takes you where it will, and you must let it. This is the way of the ... moreriver, even when it is dry and dusty. We must bend and flow, or we will be swept aside by dangerous desert winds." Ahcho's response, "All wrong, foolish woman! We are Christian soldiers now. We fight against silly old ways. We are not overcome like a camel in a dust storm that lowers its head into the sand and waits to be suffocated. We must exert our will and not allow Fate to carry us willy-nilly. This is what the Reverend taught us!" The two are constantly offering up two different viewpoints which are consistently believable as their characters are revealed. The setting and landscape of 1910 China develops as a timpani, a musical score of kettledrums that swells and recedes but is always present. The book is beautifully despondent. There is elegance in the tragedy that unfolds. Virginia Pye reveals that her grandfather, the Reverend Watts O. Pye was a missionary to China after the Boxer Rebellion of 1900, which is exactly the time period that she plants her characters in China. Pye says that, "families pass down wisdom and pain often in equal measure, and I sensed my father and grandmother's losses in China." She writes that, "this book is a fixtional expression of that distant, haunted time and place - one that exists in my mind and not precisely on any map." I certainly agree with Pye's assessment of families passing down wisdom and pain. Pain exudes from our pores as much as sweat on a hot summer day. How can it not be passed along? I hope the wisdom goes with it as well. Pye certainly captures in a fictional story the sense of a place and people haunted by their destinies. These are Mai Lin's thoughts at the end of the book. "It was a foolish plan, but Mai Lin took it as her duty to help the young woman fulfill her destiny. The river was flowing fast now, no longer with water but with dust. Who were they to try to stop it?" And so it is.
review 2: I read Virginia Pye's wonderfully evocative, beautifully written novel a few weeks ago and it's still with me. This is storytelling at its best—old-fashioned storytelling without any of the pyrotechnics or gimmicks that many writers feel the need to use to get noticed today. Straight forward and honest prose, written at the height of the author's power, Pye's novel unfolds with delicacy, her images, potent and alive and refreshing. This is not a "China" novel, but a novel about love and loss, faith and redemption. While reading it, I was often reminded of The Sheltering Sky, Bowles' masterpiece. If you want to read a compelling book, that will teach you something about the human heart and its concomitant foibles, pick up River of Dust! You'll have as hard a time putting it down as I did. less
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I randomly picked this up at the library. A good, haunting tale.
I wanted to enjoy this book, but just didn't.
I found this book kind of depressing.
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