Push Not the River

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Overview

A panoramic and epic novel in the grand romantic style, PUSH NOT THE RIVER is the rich story of Poland in the late 1700s--a time of heartache and turmoil as the country's once peaceful people are being torn apart by neighboring countries and divided loyalties. It is then, at the young and vulnerable age of seventeen, when Lady Anna Maria Berezowska loses both of her parents and must leave the only home she has ever known.

With Empress Catherine's Russian armies streaming in to ...

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Overview

A panoramic and epic novel in the grand romantic style, PUSH NOT THE RIVER is the rich story of Poland in the late 1700s--a time of heartache and turmoil as the country's once peaceful people are being torn apart by neighboring countries and divided loyalties. It is then, at the young and vulnerable age of seventeen, when Lady Anna Maria Berezowska loses both of her parents and must leave the only home she has ever known.

With Empress Catherine's Russian armies streaming in to take their spoils, Anna is quickly thrust into a world of love and hate, loyalty and deceit, patriotism and treason, life and death. Even kind Aunt Stella, Anna's new guardian who soon comes to personify Poland's courage and spirit, can't protect Anna from the uncertain future of the country.

Anna, a child no longer, turns to love and comfort in the form of Jan, a brave patriot and architect of democracy, unaware that her beautiful and enigmatic cousin Zofia has already set her sights on the handsome young fighter. Thus Anna walks unwittingly into Zofia's jealous wrath and darkly sinister intentions.

Forced to survive several tragic events, many of them orchestrated by the crafty Zofia, a strengthened Anna begins to learn to place herself in the way of destiny--for love and for country. Heeding the proud spirit of her late father, Anna becomes a major player in the fight against the countries who come to partition her beloved Poland.

PUSH NOT THE RIVER is based on the true eighteenth century diary of Anna Maria Berezowska, a Polish countess who lived through the rise and fall of the historic Third of May Constitution. Vivid, romantic, and thrillingly paced, it paints the emotional and unforgettable story of the metamorphosis of a nation--and of a proud and resilient young woman.

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  • Push Not the River
    Push Not the River  

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Push Not the River contains all the sweep and romance of the classic romantic epics such as Gone with the Wind and Doctor Zhivago, with a heroine who remains strong in the face of both personal and political tragedy. An enthralling tale of courage, survival, and hope, Anna Maria's story is at once timeless and timely."
-India Edghill, author of Queenmaker

"Push Not the River is a wonderful epic historical saga in the grand romantic style. The plot never lets up; it gallops at break-neck speed through a vividly portrayed historical landscape, against which we see the triumphant transformation of Anna . . . into a strong and powerful woman."
-Jane Feather, bestselling author of Kissed by Shadows

"James Conroyd Martin's vivid historical novel captivates the reader with its sweeping depiction of a bygone society on the cusp of violent change. Combining politics with intrigue and romance, Push Not the River gives us a glimpse into the turbulent era of late eighteenth century Poland and its people. Aristocrats and peasants, patriots and traitors come alive in this story, and the Polish soul is beautifully illuminated through ancient myths, folkways, and wisdoms. With his juxtaposition of the personal and political, Martin weaves a compelling tale of transformation--both of a remarkable young woman and her remarkable nation."
-Jennifer Donnelly, author of The Tea Rose

"Martin's novel transports the reader two hundred years into Poland's glorious past, a world of castles and manor houses. One woman's life provides a metaphor for a country which--with the Third of May Constitution--was the first to attempt democratic reform in modern Europe. While the attempt failed, Push Not the River sings of a people's pride and indomitable hope."
-Jan Lorys, director of the Polish Museum of America

India Edghill

"...River contains all the sweep and romance of the classic romantic epics...with a heroine who remains strong ...."
Jane Feather

"....The plot never lets up; it gallops at break-neck speed through a vividly portrayed historical landscape..."
Jennifer Donnelly

"....Push Not the River gives us a glimpse into the turbulent era of late eighteenth century Poland and its people."
Jan Lorys

"Martin's novel transports the reader 200 years into Poland's glorious past....Push Not the River sings of a people's pride..."
Publishers Weekly
Tumultuous times in late 18th-century Poland are the backdrop for this stiffly written historical romance based on the unpublished diary of Countess Anna Maria Berezowska. In 1791, 17-year-old Anna, orphaned by the near-simultaneous deaths of her parents, has come to live with her aunt and uncle on their country estate. Guileless and innocent, Anna falls in love with handsome neighbor Jan Stelnicki, awakening the wrath of her conniving cousin Zofia, who wants him for herself. After Zofia orchestrates a disastrous picnic, Anna is left alone in the woods, and is brutally raped by a stranger. Married off against her will immediately after the attack, she soon discovers that she is pregnant. In the same year, the Third of May Constitution is signed by King Stanislaw, giving peasants human rights. Many Polish nobles are enraged by the new laws, and call for Catherine of Russia to deliver them. The conflict divides Poland, swallowing up Anna, Zofia and Jan, as well as Zofia's brutal brother, Walter, who signs on with Catherine. Martin devotes more space to romantic drama than to historical detail, but her characters are nonetheless caricaturish: even the conflicted, flamboyant Zofia fails to spring fully to life. Martin's tendency to tell rather than show slows the narrative, and few readers will make it to the overheated finale, in which Anna flees the victorious Russian army as it advances on Warsaw. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
"Holds readers because of the cast of well-developed characters and the need to see how Anna and her young son will survive."
Library Journal
At the end of the 18th century, the Polish nobility watched nervously as French peasants toppled their king. Some nobles advocated reforms extending rights to the lower classes, while others insisted on maintaining absolute power even though it entailed aligning themselves with Catherine, empress of Russia. Against this tumultuous background, Countess Anna Maria Berekowska faces her own turmoil. Left an orphan at 17, she moves to her aunt and uncle's estate and meets Jan Stelnicki, a count who supports reform. Unfortunately, their mutual attraction is resented by Anna's cousin, Zofia, who wants Jan for herself. Anna's life is further complicated when she is forced into marriage with a man interested only in her fortune. Even though misunderstanding and coincidences keep Anna and Jan apart, their ultimate union is as certain as Poland's demise. Based on an actual 18th-century diary, the narrative sometimes sags under too much historical detail but holds readers because of the cast of well-developed characters and the need to see how Anna and her young son will survive the latest crisis. While public library patrons of Polish ancestry may feel a special affinity for this first novel, other historical romance fans will enjoy it as well.-Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ. Lib., Mankato Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Author of QUEENMAKER - India Edghill
"Push Not the River contains all the sweep and romance of the classic romantic epics such as Gone with the Wind and Doctor Zhivago, with a heroine who remains strong in the face of both personal and political tragedy. An enthralling tale of courage, survival, and hope, Anna Maria's story is at once timeless and timely."
Author of THE TEA ROSE - Jennifer Donnelly
"James Conroyd Martin's vivid historical novel captivates the reader with its sweeping depiction of a bygone society on the cusp of violent change. Combining politics with intrigue and romance, Push Not the River gives us a glimpse into the turbulent era of late eighteenth century Poland and its people. Aristocrats and peasants, patriots and traitors come alive in this story, and the Polish soul is beautifully illuminated through ancient myths, folkways, and wisdoms."
Author of KISSED BY SHADOWS - Jane Feather
"Push Not the River is a wonderful epic historical saga in the grand romantic style. The plot never lets up; it gallops at break-neck speed through a vividly portrayed historical landscape, against which we see the triumphant transformation of Anna . . . into a strong and powerful woman."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312311537
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 9/2/2004
  • Series: Anna Maria Berezowska Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 528
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.26 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

A native of Chicago and longtime teacher of English literature and creative writing, James Conroyd Martin holds degrees from St. Ambrose and DePaul universities. His Poland Trilogy has garnered numerous awards, including a Gold Medal from the American Institute of Polish Culture.
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Read an Excerpt

Push Not the River

Part One
There are three things that are difficult to keep hidden: a fire, a cold, and love.
 

--POLISH PROVERB

Author's Note
The cornerstone of this novel is the unpublished diary of Countess Anna Maria Berezowska, translated into English from the Polish by her descendant John A. Stelnicki. Countess Berezowska began keeping a diary when her personal world began to disintegrate and writing became for her, I suspect, a great therapy. She sometimes read and copied into her own diary the colorful entries from her cousin Zofia's diary. It was Zofia's often risque content that most likely accounted for subsequent generations' withholding the document from the public. For some decades, it was even sealed in wax and hidden away. Amazingly, the years of the countess' personal crises coincided with some of the most important years in all of Polish history: the Third of May Constitution years. It is fortunate that such a remarkable private view--and a woman's view--of those perilous years has survived.
PUSH NOT THE RIVER. Copyright © 2003 by James Conroyd Martin. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.

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Table of Contents

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Recipe

"Push Not the River contains all the sweep and romance of the classic romantic epics such as Gone with the Wind and Doctor Zhivago, with a heroine who remains strong in the face of both personal and political tragedy. An enthralling tale of courage, survival, and hope, Anna Maria's story is at once timeless and timely."
- India Edghill, author of Queenmaker

"Push Not the River is a wonderful epic historical saga in the grand romantic style. The plot never lets up; it gallops at break-neck speed through a vividly portrayed historical landscape, against which we see the triumphant transformation of Anna . . . into a strong and powerful woman."
- Jane Feather, bestselling author of Kissed by Shadows

"James Conroyd Martin's vivid historical novel captivates the reader with its sweeping depiction of a bygone society on the cusp of violent change. Combining politics with intrigue and romance, Push Not the River gives us a glimpse into the turbulent era of late eighteenth century Poland and its people. Aristocrats and peasants, patriots and traitors come alive in this story, and the Polish soul is beautifully illuminated through ancient myths, folkways, and wisdoms. With his juxtaposition of the personal and political, Martin weaves a compelling tale of transformation--both of a remarkable young woman and her remarkable nation."
- Jennifer Donnelly, author of The Tea Rose

"Martin's novel transports the reader two hundred years into Poland's glorious past, a world of castles and manor houses. One woman's life provides a metaphor for a country which--with the Third of May Constitution--was the first to attempt democratic reform in modern Europe. While the attemptfailed, Push Not the River sings of a people's pride and indomitable hope."
- Jan Lorys, director of the Polish Museum of America
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Reading Group Guide

A panoramic and epic novel in the grand romantic style, Push Not the River is the rich story of Poland in the late 1700s--a time of heartache and turmoil as the country's once peaceful people are being torn apart by neighboring countries and divided loyalties. It is then, at the young and vulnerable age of seventeen, when Lady Anna Maria Berezowska loses both of her parents and must leave the only home she has ever known.
With Empress Catherine's Russian armies streaming in to take their spoils, Anna is quickly thrust into a world of love and hate, loyalty and deceit, patriotism and treason, life and death. Even kind Aunt Stella, Anna's new guardian who soon comes to personify Poland's courage and spirit, can't protect Anna from the uncertain future of the country.
Anna, a child no longer, turns to love and comfort in the form of Jan, a brave patriot and architect of democracy, unaware that her beautiful and enigmatic cousin Zofia has already set her sights on the handsome young fighter. Thus Anna walks unwittingly into Zofia's jealous wrath and darkly sinister intentions.
Forced to survive several tragic events, many of them orchestrated by the crafty Zofia, a strengthened Anna begins to learn to place herself in the way of destiny--for love and for country. Heeding the proud spirit of her late father, Anna becomes a major player in the fight against the countries who come to partion her beloved Poland.
Push Not the River is based on the true eighteenth century diary of Anna Maria Berezowska, a Polish countess who lived through the rise and fall of the historic Third of May Constitution. Vivid, romantic, and thrillingly paced, it paints the emotional and unforgettable story of the metamorphosis of a nation--and of a proud and resilient young woman.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 32 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(19)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 32 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Found this book sitting on a shelf at an RV park in Florida and couldn't put it down...

    If you like historical fiction, great characters and a book you can't put down--give this one a try. I admit you have to read the first five chapters or so to get into it, but it is worth it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Absolutely captivating!

    I purchased this book on a whim, the cover reminded me of another book's cover that I enjoyed. As soon as I started reading I couldn't put the book down, I read all through the night to finish.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2006

    WOW!

    I didn't know how I'd take to this novel since it is of historical reference and me not being a 'history-buff'. However, I found that I couldn't put it down. I was fascinated how the perception for a woman's account was given by this male author. The only other time I was so impressed was when I read the 'Memoirs of a Geisha'. As I closed the book for the last time, I wished that it could go on. I wondered if there was a sequel and if not, it certainly should have one. I just learned that there is one, 'Against A Crimson Sky', and I am on my way out to get my copy NOW!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 26, 2013

    I am flabbergasted at this book, in a good way. I found it compe

    I am flabbergasted at this book, in a good way. I found it compelling, amazing, suspenseful, thrilling and beautiful. Not to mention its written by a man completely from two woman's point of views, yet the women were written beautifully and realistically.(If you want to write from a feminine point of view please read this book as to how to do it.) I had a great deal of pleasure from sitting down and reading it. There is some history of Poland, as it related to 1700s, along with culture and Polish superstitions which I found fascinating. I might be from Russia, but I suspect that I have Jewish ancestors that lived in Poland at one time or another. There is barely any Polish history prior to 1700s, and the issue of Russia and other empires desiring Poland seems to be one-sided in my opinion. I recall a history teacher told my class at one point that Poland itself attempted to conquer Russia multiple times. Also, what has been neglected is that the partition of Poland was used for Pale of Settlements for Jews if I'm not mistaken, or at least they were established by Catherine during that time.

    Quick notes: I would like to thank the author for the opportunity to read and review the book.

    5 out of 5
    (0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2012

    Definitely recommended

    This book captivated me. It is a great story, all the more because it is true. I knew nothing about Polish history, and wouldn't have happened upon this book on my own. It was my good fortune to strike up a conversation with an interesting fellow in a crowded cafe in San Francisco. He told me his ancestors were Polish nobility, and that he had spent his years translating a diary from the 1700s. He told me it had been turned into a book, and I ought to check it out. For some reason I actually did so, and it turned out to be one of the best books I've read in a long time. Now I'm busy discovering more about Poland and its remarkable history. This book will lead to much richness of learning.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 11, 2010

    Diary of a Countess ... A Culture of a Country ...

    Learning about a country's past and culture from a history book is dry and oftentimes boring. Learning about a country's past and culture from a historical novel put together from actual events taken from an unpublished diary of Countess Anna Maria Berezowska is amazing. The life of Anna, her family, neighbors, and so-called friends during the tumultuous times in Polish history is rife with passion, romance, betrayal and hope for humanity. The survival and pride of the Polish people during the time of Russian domination by Catherine shines. I highly recommend this book not only people who enjoy a well-written historical novel but also to Poles who want to reconnect with their heritage.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2006

    My New Favorite Book!

    I just finished 'Push Not the River', which was recommended to me by a fellow book lover. It has replaced 'Wuthering Heights' as my all-time favorite book (an amazing feat as W.H had been my favorite since high school). This novel has all the passion, love, drama and betrayal of the best fiction books, yet it was based on an actual diary. I didn't want it to end but I couldn't put the book down. I found myself going back in time 200 years to the home of my ancestors, feeling the joy, heartache and terror they lived through. This book surpassed my expectations, and I anxiously await the sequel 'Against a Crimson Sky'!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2005

    BEST READ!!

    I was recommended this book by my sister and cousin and boy am I glad. It keeps you going through out the book and not at one moment will you know whats going to happen next. This is by far one of my favorite books and anyone who reads it will surly agree with me, it is so good i have no words to describe it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2005

    Good Read!!! Kept my atention well!!!

    This book was very good, its amazing that it is a true story, I cant belive all the things she went through!!! I cant wait till the sequal comes out!!! I would recomend this book to anyone!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2005

    Slow to start, quick to end

    I had a really difficult time starting this book. I could only get through a couple of pages at a time. I am glad that I stuck with it though. There came a point when I couldn't put it down. It was interesting to see what happens to the main character, especially knowing that the book is based on real life.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2004

    The BookSense Review

    It is the 1790s and we are in Poland as the country tries to defend itself against Catherine the Great, the Prussians, and the Austrians while internal strife is weakening the military and the power of the king. James Conroyd Martin is a skillful writer, a tremendous researcher, and in young Anna Maria Berezowska he has created a character we learn to love and cheer for as she matures in this turbulent time. --Joci Tilsen, Valley Bookseller, Stillwater, MN BookSense, a consortium of 1200 independent booksellers, chose PUSH NOT THE RIVER as an October 2004 Recommendation.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2004

    Very Good Read

    This book was very good. Very exciting, too. The story moved along quickly because so much happened in Anna's life in a short time. It was interesting to see the way she handled the situations she faced. Then there was her self-centered cousin and party girl, Zofia (some really wild parties), but every once in a while a caring side of her emerged. I had such mixed feelings about her. I also liked the way that Polish history was intertwined with Anna's story. Anna has strong ideas about the political movements in her day and is willing to stand for her beliefs. The end of the book is very climatic and sad, but you know that there will be more to this story. I can't wait for the sequel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2004

    A Former Student of the Author

    I graduated high school in 2003 and I had James Martin as my sophomore English instructor. I read the novel during that year. I can remember well the beautiful story that was captured and the in class discussions about the writing of the book. I read it for extra credit, but reading it gave me more than a few extra points. The allusions to mythological creatures captivated me and I would urge you to read this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2003

    Truly Exiting Reading

    PUSH NOT THE RIVER is a very thrilling and highly entertaining novel set against an unusual historical backdrop, the fateful events and turmoil characterizing late 18th century Poland. The story is based on a real 18th-century person's diary and represents a fast-moving and exiting, yet touching and colorful, tale of a young woman's struggle to achieve her almost insurmountable personal goals. The story is built on a unique social setting and deals with the life styles at the time Poland's minor gentry against a tumultuous political climate that led to the collapse of the last Polish kingdom, that of Stanislaus II Poniatowski. The novel is duely reflective of the ethos that defined Poland's middle class in those days and accurately portrays the political events that engendered the kingdom's fall. The novel reflects the naivete and innocence of the heroine, Ania, a behavioral bent that represented a large part of ethical Polish society as it existed in those times. The story touches upon the ill-fated attempt of Thaddeus Kosciuszko, one of the hero's of the American Revolutionary War (the Polish military engineer who delayed and boxed British general Burgoyne into unfavorable conditions at Saratoga, ensured the success of the West Point fortifications, and saved Nathaniel Green's army from entrapment in South Carolina), to take charge and reverse the Russian takeover of the Polish kingdom. Not since reading Eric P. Kelly's tales about Poland in a historical setting have I experience something so exciting. And Kelley, like James Conroyd Martin, was a non-Pole too!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2003

    Historical Fiction At Its Best!

    This is one of the finest works of historical fiction to come down the road since the likes of the Nobel Prize winners Henryk Sienkiewicz (Ogniem i Miecem [With Fire & Word], Potop [The Deluge], and Pan Wolodyowski [Lord Michal (Wolodyowski)], and Wladyslaw S. Reymont, Chlopi [The Peasants]and Rok 1794 [The Year 1794]). It is unique because the story captures the time and flavor of an era not otherwise covered by writers since Thaddeus of Warsaw was written in the mid-19th century. It is also well written and absent the editing booboos one is forced to swallow under the degraded publishing rules of late. The story of Ania (Anna) provides the reader with an insight to the conditions of the minor gentry during one of the most tumultuous periods in Polish history (The Partitions of 1772, 1793 & 1794)when the great American hero Tadeusz Kosciuszko had to take command of the country and make a bid for independence as he did at Saratoga and West Point. It accurately describes the individual naivete that existed in the philosophical beliefs of young women in 1794 and it paints vividly the panaroma of the conflict. This terrific true story will certainly enrich the reader with, not only entertainment, but a knowledge of a culture, history, and people not otherwise obtainable in such an enjoyable composition.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2003

    History Comes to Life

    The author of this book breathes new life into the horrifying and confusing history of Poland. The political turmoil seizes the imagination from the very first page. Two cousins represent all that is great in the people of that country. Ana seems to embody the loyalty, dignity, and strength of royalty, courageously holding on to tradition. Sofia uses wit, adaptability, and common sense to resist the Russians, allowing the greatness of Poland to survive the invasion. Based on a diary kept by a countess who lived through the partition, PUSH NOT THE RIVER recounts with vivid accuracy, the chaos survived by a nation. The metaphor that spans the length of the story is never more appropriate than in the scene at the River Vistula. Driven like cattle by the Russian Army, thousands upon thousands of Poles are forced off the bridge to their deaths. Some make it across. This story is about two who did.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A must read for every Pole! A fascinating reading for everyone!

    An amazing true story that only life could write on the canvas of the most complicated part of Polish history. Passionate and patriotic, gives reader a chance to go back in time and see crucial historic events of the partitions through the eyes of real people that lived through it.
    Should find a place on the list of required reading in Polish schools!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2006

    This is Now My Favorite Book!

    I just finished 'Push Not the River', which was recommended to me by a fellow book lover. It has replaced 'Wuthering Heights' as my all-time favorite book (an amazing feat as W.H had been my favorite since high school). This novel has all the passion, love, drama and betrayal of the best fiction books, yet it was based on an actual diary. I couldn't put the book down, yet I didn't want it to end. I anxiously await the sequel 'Against a Crimson Sky'!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 32 Customer Reviews

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