in 1894, down the dark hill the woman runs, her child bound in a towel tight in her arms. Behind her, flames break through the windows of the house. Ahead, down by the river, men sleeping rough lean into a campfire. She doesn't falter, her feet seek the path. She knows the men will help--the same ones she'd fed at her back door the other day. What she doesn't know is that one of them will save her, and give her back her voice. And her voice will echo over a hundered years of life, war, loss and love---with singing words that shimmer on the surface of two rivers flowing through Time and the Midwestern plains, until Time itself is full and round and ripe--and another young woman hears, and finds her own voice again.
in 1982, Clare Yates returns home, defeated but determined to start over after leaving her lover in San Francisco. She teaches English at a large state university in a very small town. One day, she opens the diary of Jack London and finds something that tells her what she always thought was true--she has lived another life, in a different place and time. She decides to go looking for proof of that life, hoping for renewal and redemption. Then, "he" comes back to town, and it's as if nothing has changed. Only, everything has. A literary roman a clef ("story with a key") of sweeping personal and emotional intensity.
"In Of Ripeness & the River, Mary Burns moves us back and forward in time seamlessly with language that is at once lush and fresh. This is a story of a woman finding her voice through time but it is also the story of time itself, a tale of the interconnectedness of all things--history, loss, love, living and death, second chances. Two rivers flow timelessly and the midwestern plains sing in the background of this novel that is also grounded in the stories of Jack London and his life and writing. This book is a great read." – Valerie Hastings, author of Searching for Dandelion Greens
"In this extremely tender novel of loss and reconciliation, novelist Mary F. Burns once more uses two stories set in different time periods with her characters in close relationship. Very beautiful written and totally engrossing!" -- Stephanie Cowell, author of Marrying Mozart, The Players, Claude & Camille