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Posted April 9, 2013
Reviewed by Danita Dyess for Readers' Favorite
It was over 40 years ago when the unimaginable occurred: Bessie Day Hardy -- a smart, beautiful teenage girl with curly black hair and a striking figure -- was raped in Chaanakya. But that was exactly what happened in the book “Lies a River Deep” by Vera Jane Cook. Of course, a lot can happen in four decades. Bessie, a widower, is 60 years old now. Grey Otis, the town dunce, and Maggie, his wife, are still here. Lily, her high school friend, is still here. Mrs. Day, Bessie’s mother, lives in the nearby nursing home. But whatever happened to Bart and Roland Miller, the two brothers who competed for Bessie’s heart? Most importantly, how does this cast of characters fit into Bessie’s tragic past? Which one of them knew about the rape and which one got paid money to keep it a secret?
This was a great book. Back to the 50s with Roland’s 1959 convertible and an era where women were either “good” or “bad” girls. I enjoyed the distinct neighborhoods with the 1930s Cape and Colonial houses with well-manicured lawns. The river was real but symbolic. Cook did a fabulous job of conveying the complicated relationships between people, especially the bond between mother and daughter. Cook has written four other books including “Dancing Backward in Paradise: A Novel” and “Hearts Upon a Fragile Bough.” “Lies a River Deep” is highly recommended.