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The River Beyond the World
     

The River Beyond the World

by Janet Peery, Songhee Kim (Designed by)
 

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A National Book Award Finalist for Fiction

Set in the Texas/Mexico border country in the years from 1944 to the present, The River Beyond the World is the story of two women on the edge of sexual, moral, political, and spiritual divides. Luisa Cantú is a girl from a Sierra Madre mountain village. After being impregnated in a fertility ritual

Overview

A National Book Award Finalist for Fiction

Set in the Texas/Mexico border country in the years from 1944 to the present, The River Beyond the World is the story of two women on the edge of sexual, moral, political, and spiritual divides. Luisa Cantú is a girl from a Sierra Madre mountain village. After being impregnated in a fertility ritual of ancient origin, she leaves Mexico to work in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas as a housemaid for Mrs. Eddie Hatch, a woman with a strong will and a narrow worldview. Their complex relationship—by turns mystical and pragmatic, serious and comic—reveals the many ways human beings can wound one another, the nature of love and sacrifice, and the possibility of forgiveness.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Lush . . . a beautiful novel, richly evocative of time and place, ambitious in scope, and flawlessly written.” —Sharon Oard Warner, Dallas Morning News

“Ms. Peery . . . ruminate[s] . . . on the mysteries of creation and loss, of forgiveness and love, of betrayal and what she calls the 'complex living heart of grace'.” —Megan Harlan, The New York Times Book Review

“A page-turner . . . speaks eloquently on themes of forgiveness, sexual awakening, deception ,redemption and transformation,, demonstrating that people can-and sometimes will-find remedy, solace, and a better way.” —Steve Byrne, The Detroit News/Free Press

“Begins in a visionary flush of language . . . Peery handles her narrative with grace and originality taht is consistently engaging . . . There is a clear river that runs through every human being's life, and The River Beyond the World . . . is about two interesting women who spend their lives trying to find it.” —Matthew Gilbert, The Boston Globe

Kirkus Reviews
A lyrical, dramatic first novel, from the author of a well- received story collection (Alligator Dance, 1994), traces the passages and passions of women's lives with an ardent empathy that will remind many of the fiction of Barbara Kingsolver.

Peery's richly detailed story is set in Mexico and southwest Texas over the past 50 years. It begins with the rough journey toward womanhood of (María) Luisa Cantú, who grows up in the impoverished town of Salsipuedes, both victimized and shaped by her family's ill luck and her culture's self-denying religiosity. Later, when she's a young unmarried mother and again pregnant, Luisa is hired by Texas farmer Thomas Hatch and becomes maid to his arrogant, abrasive wife Edwina ("Eddie"). Both mistress and servant deliver babies soon thereafter, and their own fates and those of their children become forever entwined. Peery creates an eloquent contrast between the imperious Eddie, who'll live out her days regretting and atoning for the harm she can't stop causing, and the serene (though not servile) Luisa, who will keep for many years the secret "don Tomás" entrusts to her and will survive, in her fashion, the loss of loved ones and her realization that girlhood dreams dissolve in adult compromises and disappointments ("I thought I would be better than I am"). The novel is flawed by occasional sentimentality and infrequent intrusions of melodramatic contrivances (e.g., Vietnam, draft-dodging, and pot-smoking) that seem to betray a determination to make its episodes representative of the several eras it covers so capably. Other episodes, however—such as Eddie's confrontation with a gang of Mexican kids who claim her car has run one of them over—vibrate with energy and tension.

A strong story, peopled with credible, complex characters with whom we come, in some cases despite ourselves, to identify.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312169862
Publisher:
Picador
Publication date:
09/15/1997
Edition description:
REV
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.68(d)

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Meet the Author

JANET PEERY’s books include The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs (a novel), Alligator Dance (stories), and What the Thunder Said (a novella and stories). She has received numerous honors for her fiction including the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Whiting Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others. She lives in Cape Charles, Virginia.

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