The River of No Return

The River of No Return

4.1 27
by Bee Ridgway
     
 

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In Bee Ridgway’s wonderfully imaginative debut novel, a man and a woman travel through time in a quest to bring down a secret society that controls the past and, thus, the future.

“You are now a member of the Guild. There is no return.” Two hundred years after he was about to die on a Napoleonic battlefield, Nick Falcott, soldier and

Overview

In Bee Ridgway’s wonderfully imaginative debut novel, a man and a woman travel through time in a quest to bring down a secret society that controls the past and, thus, the future.

“You are now a member of the Guild. There is no return.” Two hundred years after he was about to die on a Napoleonic battlefield, Nick Falcott, soldier and aristocrat, wakes up in a hospital bed in modern London. The Guild, an entity that controls time travel, showers him with life's advantages. But Nick yearns for home and for one brown-eyed girl, lost now down the centuries. Then the Guild asks him to break its own rule. It needs Nick to go back to 1815 to fight the Guild’s enemies and to find something called the Talisman.

In 1815, Julia Percy mourns the death of her beloved grandfather, an earl who could play with time. On his deathbed he whispers in her ear: “Pretend!” Pretend what? When Nick returns home as if from the dead, older than he should be and battle scarred, Julia begins to suspect that her very life depends upon the secrets Grandfather never told her. Soon enough Julia and Nick are caught up in an adventure that stretches up and down the river of time. As their knowledge of the Guild and their feelings for each other grow, the fate of the future itself is hanging in the balance.

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post - Elizabeth Hand
…wonderful…Ridgway spins an intricate narrative in elegant prose that combines the best of various genres—spy thriller, historical romance, science fiction, fantasy. Throughout, her juxtaposition of past and present is dazzling and often amusing…The River of No Return has the feel of an instant classic, along the lines of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Readers will wish they could stop time to savor every page.
Publishers Weekly
Ridgway makes her debut with an accomplished if sometimes slow-going literary mash-up. In the midst of battle, Lord Nicholas Falcott suddenly jumps 200 years into the future. Finding himself in 2003, Lord Nicholas forges a new life as “Nick Davenant” and serves in a time-traveling secret society known as the Guild. But 10 years after he jumped, Nick is told he’s being sent back to 1815 on a vital mission. While investigating the Guild’s enemies and hunting for the invaluable Talisman, he’s reunited with his sweetheart, Julia Percy, who’s just started to discover time-traveling gifts of her own. But a war over the past and the fate of the future, as well as desperate attempts to find the Talisman and use it to avert catastrophe, promises either to bring Nick and Julia together or tear them apart. Ridgway offers a well-crafted blend of science fiction, romance, mystery, and historical fiction, but stumbles with overlong explanations that, while helpful in untangling the story’s convolutions, stall the plot. Agent: Alexandra Machinist, Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
"A wonderful first novel...Ridgway spins an intricate narrative in elegant prose that combines the best of various genres - spy thriller, historical romance, science fiction, fantasy. Throughout, her juxtaposition of past and present is dazzling and often amusing...The River of No Return has the feel of an instant classic." - Washington Post  

"A highly entertaining romp; her historical details are accurate, and the character are believable. Fans of Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" series should enjoy this time-traveling romantic adventure, which may also attract readers who like historical fiction with a twist." —Library Journal

“In her stellar debut, Ridgway manages the permutations of the time-travel trope with originality and aplomb.” —Booklist

“Ridgway offers a well-crafted blend of science fiction, romance, mystery, and historical fiction.” —Publishers Weekly

"Bee Ridgway's deliciously fun debut covers ground similar to smart bodice rippers such as Outlanders and Discovery of Witches." - All You

"[A] passionate, thought-provoking and consistently fun debut that's best described as a Regency romance wrapped in a spy novel covered in science fiction." - Shelf Awareness

"Verdict: Buy, and make sure to start it on a day you don't have to go to work." - Book Riot

"The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway is teh kind of book that is meant to be read under the covers with a flshlight." - Chicago Reader

“A compelling race through time in a historical world turned upside down—the Regency as you’ve never seen it before. Take one nobleman and one gently born lady; add time travel, intrigue, a vast conspiracy, and a wicked way with words; shake; and serve.” —Lauren Willig, author of The Pink Carnation series
 
“While on its shining surface The River of No Return is a fantastical time traveling page turner, it is also a novel that takes on complex issues of culture and nationalism and how or memories form us. And it is a riveting love story to boot. Bee Ridgway is a treasure and her debut is a triumph.” —Jennifer Gilmore, author of Golden Country and Something Red 

"The only thing more fun than reading this book would be to actually travel through time yourself. Erudite and beautifully crafted, The River of No Return is at the same time a lush, riotous fantasy. Ridgway's ingenuity and charm are apparently without limit."  
—Heather Love, R. Jean Brownlee associate professor in the humanities, University of Pennsylvania, and author of Feeling Backward  

"The River of No Return is an innovative and sophisticated first novel. At the heart of this entertaining story—set primarily and convincingly in Regency-era England—is a serious and timely question: what does it mean to be on the winning side of history?"  —William Galperin, Professor of English, Rutgers University, and author of The Historical Austen

"I'm certainly looking forward to seeing what else Ridgway has in store and hoping that it will be as delightful as her debut."  — Susie Bookworm

"I've never read a book quite like The River of No Return...Stunningly original and full of a cast of fascinating characters." — Lovely Books Blog

"Be warned. I lost sleep over The River of No Return, and you probably will as well. Once you start, it's hard to walk away." — Bookshelf Fantasies

"It's difficult to write a book that is so completely captivating, yet Ridgway accomplishes it like an expert." — S. Krishna's Books

"The River of No Return is a unique time traveling story with a beautiful romance and nothing less than page-turning intrigue that had me swooning." — It's a Book Life

"I heartily recommend Bee Ridgway's The River of No Return to fans of Deborah Harkness's All Souls Trilogy, Jennifer Lee Carrell's Interred With Their Bones, historical fantasy, time travel novels, and even Regency romance...It's a deep and nuanced novel which belnds genres and blurs the lines between them. And it is, above all else, an enthralling story." - The Bookwyrm's Hoard, 5 stars

"Since Ridgway is a professor of history at Bryn Mawr College I expected meticulously researched Regency England (which is delivered), but what I didn't foresee was a swoon-worthy romance playing a strong role. I'll take an addition like that any day." - Book Harbinger

 

“[A] novel that fans of hardcore fantasy and literary fiction alike can get behind. The River of No Return is a gorgeous, sweeping debut that is easy to get lost in.” - BookPage 

“I was spellbound by this book. Hands down one of the most captivating books I have read in a long, long time.” - Bossy Italian Wife 

Kirkus Reviews
Literate time-travel exercise by English professor and debut novelist Ridgway. No, it's not the river plied by Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum, but instead the river of time that we're talking about. Nicholas Falcott, nobleman and cavalryman, is in big trouble with one of Napoleon's dragoons one minute and recovering in a London hospital nearly two centuries later, where a mysterious stranger--always a mysterious stranger--tells him, "You are in the care of the Guild." As though in some witness protection program, Nick will be assigned a new time and place and name and given what he needs to live comfortably; the stranger informs him that he himself "jumped from Aachen in 810 and landed in 1965" and, for complex reasons, hasn't been able to go to Germany since. Yet time has a way of moving on its own; as another mysterious figure, a Russian named Arkady, tells Nick portentously, "Volga: the Queen of Rivers. Mississippi: the Father of Waters. Amazon: the River Sea. The river of time is a thousand times greater than these. As wide and deep as the universe itself." So it is, and though Nick is practical-minded enough to demand that Arkady "[s]top speaking in metaphors," he goes with the flow anyway. Not much happens for all that, but Ridgway's talky narrative is smart and often funny--and, of course, ends with enough of an opening to permit a sequel or two. It's not especially distinguished, but bookish fantasy fans who make it a point to keep up with Doctor Who will like this one.
Library Journal
Nicholas Falcott was about to die in battle in 1815, but he wakes up in a modern London hospital instead. Initiated into the Guild, a powerful group of men and women capable of traveling through time, Nick is asked to return to 1815 to seek a powerful talisman and hunt the Guild's enemies. Nick discovers his life is as he left it and ready to pull him back. Meanwhile, Julia Percy, part of Nick's abandoned past, has lost her grandfather's protection and is faced with a cruel and power-hungry cousin who is convinced Julia knows about their grandfather's ability to play with time. Julia and Nick are soon caught in a dangerous adventure in which the fate of the future itself hangs in the balance. VERDICT Despite signs of a novice writer (e.g., detailed explanations through dialog), this debut novel by Ridgway (English literature, Bryn Mawr) is a highly entertaining romp; her historical details are accurate, and the characters are believable. Fans of Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" series should enjoy this time-traveling romantic adventure, which may also attract readers who like historical fiction with a twist. [See Prepub Alert, 10/28/12.]—Michelle Martinez, Sam Houston State Univ. Lib., Huntsville, TX

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780525953869
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/23/2013
Pages:
464
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.60(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"A wonderful first novel...Ridgway spins an intricate narrative in elegant prose that combines the best of various genres - spy thriller, historical romance, science fiction, fantasy. Throughout, her juxtaposition of past and present is dazzling and often amusing...The River of No Return has the feel of an instant classic." - Washington Post  

"A highly entertaining romp; her historical details are accurate, and the character are believable. Fans of Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" series should enjoy this time-traveling romantic adventure, which may also attract readers who like historical fiction with a twist." —Library Journal

“In her stellar debut, Ridgway manages the permutations of the time-travel trope with originality and aplomb.” —Booklist

“Ridgway offers a well-crafted blend of science fiction, romance, mystery, and historical fiction.” —Publishers Weekly

"Bee Ridgway's deliciously fun debut covers ground similar to smart bodice rippers such as Outlanders and Discovery of Witches." - All You

"[A] passionate, thought-provoking and consistently fun debut that's best described as a Regency romance wrapped in a spy novel covered in science fiction." - Shelf Awareness

"Verdict: Buy, and make sure to start it on a day you don't have to go to work." - Book Riot

"The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway is teh kind of book that is meant to be read under the covers with a flshlight." - Chicago Reader

“A compelling race through time in a historical world turned upside down—the Regency as you’ve never seen it before. Take one nobleman and one gently born lady; add time travel, intrigue, a vast conspiracy, and a wicked way with words; shake; and serve.” —Lauren Willig, author of The Pink Carnation series
 
“While on its shining surface The River of No Return is a fantastical time traveling page turner, it is also a novel that takes on complex issues of culture and nationalism and how or memories form us. And it is a riveting love story to boot. Bee Ridgway is a treasure and her debut is a triumph.” —Jennifer Gilmore, author of Golden Country and Something Red 

"The only thing more fun than reading this book would be to actually travel through time yourself. Erudite and beautifully crafted, The River of No Return is at the same time a lush, riotous fantasy. Ridgway's ingenuity and charm are apparently without limit."  
—Heather Love, R. Jean Brownlee associate professor in the humanities, University of Pennsylvania, and author of Feeling Backward  

"The River of No Return is an innovative and sophisticated first novel. At the heart of this entertaining story—set primarily and convincingly in Regency-era England—is a serious and timely question: what does it mean to be on the winning side of history?"  —William Galperin, Professor of English, Rutgers University, and author of The Historical Austen

"I'm certainly looking forward to seeing what else Ridgway has in store and hoping that it will be as delightful as her debut."  — Susie Bookworm

"I've never read a book quite like The River of No Return...Stunningly original and full of a cast of fascinating characters." — Lovely Books Blog

"Be warned. I lost sleep over The River of No Return, and you probably will as well. Once you start, it's hard to walk away." — Bookshelf Fantasies

"It's difficult to write a book that is so completely captivating, yet Ridgway accomplishes it like an expert." — S. Krishna's Books

"The River of No Return is a unique time traveling story with a beautiful romance and nothing less than page-turning intrigue that had me swooning." — It's a Book Life

"I heartily recommend Bee Ridgway's The River of No Return to fans of Deborah Harkness's All Souls Trilogy, Jennifer Lee Carrell's Interred With Their Bones, historical fantasy, time travel novels, and even Regency romance...It's a deep and nuanced novel which belnds genres and blurs the lines between them. And it is, above all else, an enthralling story." - The Bookwyrm's Hoard, 5 stars

"Since Ridgway is a professor of history at Bryn Mawr College I expected meticulously researched Regency England (which is delivered), but what I didn't foresee was a swoon-worthy romance playing a strong role. I'll take an addition like that any day." - Book Harbinger

 

Meet the Author

BEE RIDGWAY holds a PhD in literature from Cornell University and is a professor of English literature at Bryn Mawr College. She lived in England for several years and now makes her home in Philadelphia.

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The River of No Return 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a thrilling read...! This novel has it all: adventure, fantasy, romance, intrigue, heroes, villains, and a rich cast of other well-drawn characters embedded in different locales and time periods. The mix of ingredients in "The River of No Return" is as unexpected as it is addictive--I couldn't put this book down, and I fervently hope that Ridgway will write a sequel. The novel is at turns witty and thoughtful, funny and insightful, highly entertaining and smartly crafted. The writing is beautiful and elegant--the book has style and verve, and it is just plain fun to read. Highly recommended to all lovers of time travel, adventure, romance, and smart and entertaining fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
From the minute I picked up The River of No Return, I could not put it down. It is a thrill ride of a novel. At the end of each chapter I was propelled into the next. If you want a book that you can read a chapter of and then fall asleep, don't buy the River of No Return. This novel will keep you up late into the night. I had more fun reading this book than any book I've read in years. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a sequel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I gave time travel fiction a try with this book and it was so fun! The time travel piece is so creative and interesting. I love the characters in this book, their relationships are complex and thought provoking. I do not have much knowledge of 19th century British history and was intrigued by what I learned about it. I'm definitely looking forward to the sequel!
MDWaters More than 1 year ago
I don't read a lot of regency or time travel, but this debut made me want to SWIM in them for life. This was truly a beautifully written story with twists I thought I knew only to find out I was wrong--or half-wrong, lol. UGH! I hate being wrong! It was wonderful to be wrong! Every character had their own unique personality, which *I* think is truly difficult to accomplish. I loved and hated every character for one reason or another.  Nick and Julia are fabulous lead characters. I was disappointed when one point of view ended, but swept right back up into the next only to be disappointed when THAT point of view ended.  And Bee...what a talented writer. I was drawn into the setting from the first page. I wasn't reading about dust motes, I was watching them as if I were in the room. If this is only the beginning of her career, we're all in trouble. :)))
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a pretty good book - definitely a page-turner - but it is undermined by a somewhat slapdash approach to the implications of time-travel. One character who dies early in the book is later known to have taken some important secrets to the grave with him. Not one time traveller thinks to jump back and talk to the still-living version of the character. Similarly, late on in the book, we are told that there was an attempt in 'the future' to attempt [something] and one of the people engaged in the effort landed in the past, taking the information on outcome of the attempt back to the past with him or her. Yet that information was not, apparently, available to the people engaged in the future endeavour. These inconsistencies are never addressed, though perhaps there will be some belated attempt at explanation in later books of the series.
LalleeK More than 1 year ago
As someone who in recent years has tended to gravitate toward non-fiction, I am thrilled when I read a work of fiction that reminds me how wonderful it is to be completely engrossed in and transported by a great story. Fortunately, that's just what I found in Bee Ridgway's debut novel, The River of No Return. Well-developed, interesting, and complex characters paired with an intriguing, fun, and smart story made me eager to return to the book whenever I could. My insanely busy schedule has meant that I simply don't have the time to do what I did in my younger years--read a book cover-to-cover in a day or two. I must say that I'm somewhat grateful that's the case, as it allowed me to really absorb the book chapter by chapter. This is a great story on the surface, but I also found it to be multi-layered, quite intelligent, and well-written (with a healthy dose of wry humor throughout). Others have provided on-point synopses of the plot, so I'll refrain from rehashing. I will say that I found this book really hard to fit into any one genre. Time travel, adventure, historical fiction, romance, mystery...it's all there. So glad I made time to get started on the book; for me, it's telling that it didn't end up like three quarters of the novels stored in my nightstand--half-read. Highly recommend!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bee Ridgway's first novel THE RIVER OF NO RETURN is best described with superlatives. I'll refrain from doing that as I want to impress on any would be readers the delight that awaits them between the covers of this book. I've read endless volumes of Science Fiction and Fantasy in my life and tragically only a handful of those authors stand out in my memory. Bee Ridgway has earned her place with this riveting time travel escapade. The story follows Nicholas Falcott as he is tossed along the violent currents of history. Ripped from certain death at the hands of a Frenchman on the field of battle in 1812 to a hospital bed in a Guild facility in 2003, Nicholas is informed that his comfort and safety in this new reality rely on his promise never to return to the land, or time, of his birth. Nicholas reluctantly agrees to these terms and makes every effort to fit into the strange new world that confronts him. That would satisfy most authors but Ms.Ridgway has other plans. The story really heats up when it is revealed that the river of time is navigable in two directions and the Guild wants Nick Falcott to return to his title and lands in Regency-era England and work as their agent in a war developing between the Guild and an even more mysterious group of time travellers called the Ofan. Complicate this with the search for a talisman, a gorgeous woman who may hold the key to Nick's heart, an insane Earl and a mystery in the halls of Castle Dar and you have the makings of a ripping good yarn. Not content to turn this into a pulpy steampunk tale Bee Ridgway demonstrates a knowledge of history and place that create a rich backdrop to a well rendered adventure on the turbulent river of time. No novel can be all things to all people but THE RIVER OF NO RETURN has adventure, romance, sex, poetry, turbulent historical settings and above all else, heart. Bee Ridgway is in the league of great Science Fiction writers - Andre Norton, Anne McCaffery, Jack Finney, Fritz Leiber - hopefully she continues to carve out her niche with many more stories in the years to come. If you read nothing else this year read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not going to write any long thing here but I will say that this was a thoroughly enjoyable read,I just finished and I am about to go see if she has continued this story as the world created in this book is so very interesting and I'd like to stay a little longer :-)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best of this cstegory
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
CMKmom More than 1 year ago
The idea of a river of time is fascinating to me! This book could have been excellent - but wasn't. Too much detail - or not enough. Sex scenes tossed in here and there didn't move the story anywhere either. I have to say I was disappointed in this book. Maybe Ridgway's next book will be more cohesive.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Starts out really well and I could not put it down. Stalls out in the middle rhen finishes with a non ending. What happened? Good imaginative concppt bht not well executed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a great book! The main characters are shown with detail, and you come to know and sympsthise with all of them, even the ones who are misguided. The two main characters, Nicholas and Julia, have you rooting for them from the beginning. Their relationship is real and you understand how and why they develop as they do. This was such a great book, and I can't wait to read the sequel ( and there just has to be a sequel)!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book renewed my enthusiasm to find a good read. I try to read many different genre just for that reason. This one filled the entire list. Great mystery, love story, intertwined with strong women going against traditions of the time, time travel itself, philosophical views for those of us comtinually wonder why and enough strings left open for a sequel or a trilogy. Certainly hope the writer is in progress of another book soon. Will be the first in line. Could not put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An engrossing story as far as it goes. Some confusion jumping to different timelines, but a quick reread of those sections helped clarify the intent. I found the ending a little disappointing. I wanted more on the Ofan, retaliation from the Guild, Nick and Julia's future travels in the river, and especially the extent of Julia's ability. Hopefully all questions will be answered with a sequel.
bunnygirlJK More than 1 year ago
I absolutely adore this book. I completely lost myself in this world and cannot wait until the sequal she is working on now! Highly recommended!
ethel55 More than 1 year ago
There's something for everyone here, time travel, romance, historical fiction, even a mystery all wound around the idea that time is like a river, always moving forward, except for a select few that can jump ahead. It's unusual for Nick to be told by the head of the Guild, Alice, that he can indeed go back to Regency England, where he needs to find out the truth about their rivals, the Ofan, and discover who is disrupting time in such a way that could conclude time on earth in an earlier fashion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The nook edition is having issues right now. You end up with a woodworking book. I called BN Customer Service today and they credited me the money for the title and said that it will be fixed within 2 weeks. 
Liz12 More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite book I've read all year! I don't usually read time-travel fiction, but this one is a real page-turner, full of great detail, but also lots of action and suspense. It's also really funny and repeatedly made me laugh out loud. So charming. Bring on the next one!
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
“Time flows like a river and it seems as if each of us is carried relentlessly along by time’s current. But time is like a river in another way. It flows at different speeds in different places and that is the key to traveling into the future,” British Cosmologist Steven Hawking writes.  Bee Ridgway has taken Hawking’s theory and gone one step more in her amazing new novel.  Time and speed may be, as the main characters come to realize, also connected to intense emotional energy.  This novel certainly suggests that as the main protagonist, Nicholas Davenant or Lord Blackdown, “jumps” from 1800s Spain to 2013 London, eventually settling in America.  He has been trained to survive in this new life by the Guild, a secret group who help time-jumpers like Nicholas adjust to the new environment, including clothes, language, manners, culture, and so so much more! However, just as Nicholas is settling in, with the only thing bothering him the face and appearance of a mysterious black-haired girl whose mysterious presence has helped him survive his terrible war memories, he is called back to England by the Guild who is going to send him on a secret mission with a burly Russian Guild member.  Their job is to find the Olfan, another group who have mastered time travel but have other ways of accessing the future and past.  The question as the story progresses becomes murky as Nicholas, now the Marquess Blackdown, cannot tell who is friend and who is foe.  Also when he meets Julie, his next-door neighbor, she is being held prisoner and at the same time discovers she possesses phenomenal powers regarding this time jumping issue.  She and Blackdown are increasingly drawn closer to each other but go no further because of the mystery that needs to be solved. For what if those capable of jumping into the future encounter an unsolvable problem?  Can all of the Guild and Olfan members stop this new aspect of time that is life-threatening, to say the least?  Why are so many people after Blackdown and Julia?  Should Blackdown participate in a historically significant law vote that could destroy his own aristocratic world or free it with dramatic effects that will last for centuries?   There is much more in this amazing fantasy novel that also has a touch of history, plenty of magical moments, intense high-pressure scenes where foes fight to the finish… Read The River of No Return for a strong tension-filled plot, stereotypical characters who surmount their boring peerage definition and those with immense intelligence who help our main characters wait at appropriate moments and lurch forward into action during quieter moments! Great story with page-flipping drama, adventure, thrills, romance, history and overall great fun!  Very, very nicely done, Ms. Ridgway!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved what I read in the sample, but after buying the full version for my Nook, I ended up with something titled Wood Finishing 101. Very informative, but not what I was hoping for.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago