Book One, River's Song, in Melody Carlson's Inn at the Shining Waters series ended as Anna juggled not only a new business as innkeeper, but a new marriage. The only unsettled area of her life was her relationship with teenager daughter Lauren. Book two, River's Call starts months later as Anna settles into her life on the river and Lauren begins her first semester at college. Battling an unknown, recurring illness, Lauren reaches out to her mother and comes to the inn for a few days R&R. It will surprise no reader that Lauren is not really sick, but is pregnant. Anna's domineering, former-mother-in-law will re-enter the story as she swoops into "solve" the problem. The three women (and soon to be four) representing different beliefs and different generations will struggle across the 1960s and the 1970s. The title River's Call hints at the peace that life on the river can provide, and for the most part Anna is able to achieve that. She re-embraces her Native American heritage and grows in her Christian faith. Her marriage is solid and loving, but you will need to read the novel to see how she copes with her adult daughter and new granddaughter.
The book covers over fifteen years and yet it is not a lengthy novel, therefore there were gaps in time within the story that I felt would be unrealistic for a family living just a few hours apart. I guess that is part of fiction, especially series fiction, that I find lacking. I did feel that Lauren's grandmother (Anna's ex-mother-in-law) was the most interesting character within this novel, and I accepted her changes as the story progressed. I would recommend reading both books in close succession since the stories are so closely tied and the books are not long.
I received an advanced reader's copy of this title for review purposes. All opinions are my own.
River's Call is the second in The Inn at Shining Waters series. Clark and Anna are now married and running the inn on the Siuslaw River. Lauren is off at college.
Anna receives a desperate call from Lauren. She is very ill and Anna makes arrangements for her to come to the Inn to recuperate. It becomes apparent that Lauren has morning sickness. Lauren is pregnant.
Eunice, mother of Anna's deceased first husband is a manipulating woman. She insists Lauren marry the boy, Donald, and live with her. Eunice and Donald's mother make it happen. Eunice is wealthy and can provide for all the needs of Lauren and her family.
When Sarah is born, Lauren does not do well. Anna invites her and the baby to come to the river inn for a while. While there is some bonding, Anna is disgusted with Lauren's behavior and the two part with strong words.
Over the years, Anna tries to remake the connection with Lauren. But Lauren remains aloof. Sarah does come to the inn for summers and Anna forges a strong relationship with her granddaughter.
In the turmoil of her life, Lauren turns to alcohol and prescription drugs.
This novel is a good study on character and forgiveness. Anna, Eunice, Lauren and Sarah are all women with strong feelings and with lots of hurts. How they manage to work through the pains and the misunderstandings is a strong theme in this book.
There are other interesting aspects of the novel as well. The era is the 60s and the Inn has no TVs. Some guests are at a loss, not being able to see the cruelty of the Viet Nam war on a nightly basis.
But others find healing by the quiet river. When Lauren is at her lowest, she senses the river calling her. She responds to the river's call and finds her own healing.
Another major theme is the mother daughter relationship, first between Anna and Lauren and then between Lauren and Sarah. The 60s and 70s were turbulent times for families and Carlson does a great job recreating that in this novel.
We also learn more about Anna's native American heritage, an added plus.
My only criticism of this book is one I often have with sequels. While it is not absolutely necessary to read the first in the series, doing so would certainly help readers understand the complex relationships in the novel, especially between Eunice and Anna. A one page synopsis of book one, at the very beginning of the book, would be helpful. Unfortunately, I rarely see this in sequels and it is missing in this one.
And we know there will be another in the series. Sarah is missing, apparently run off at age sixteen. I trust we'll hear her story in the next book.
I received an egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
As a mother, there are never moments when I don't worry about my children. Are they making good choices? Are they prepared for the life they have to lead? I've never met a parent that wasn't concerned or at least unsettled about the decisions their children make and the paths their children walk along. At some point, though every child becomes responsible for their own lives. To put it as Grandma Pearl did, they have to paddle their own canoe. And sometimes, as a mom or dad, all you can do is watch and pray.
This story is the second in a series called "The Inn at Shining Waters" and Melody Carlson effortlessly puts words on a page that carry the reader through the crises of several generations. As she writes of mothers and daughters and the ways in which their lives weave together and then fray, only to ravel together more completely, you feel the weight of the worries, the joy of the reconciliations, and you recognize the tumults and triumphs that often characterize your own relationships.
This is a tale of forgiveness and healing, and it holds the story of women who have a tradition of being strong enough when it counts. I heartily recommend the series. Read the adventures of the women of the river, and hear the way the waves echo in your own heart.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255
Melody Carlson invites us to return to the banks of the Siuslaw River in this second installment of the Inn at Shining Waters series. Anna Larson is enjoying running her Inn together with her new husband, Clark. However, when her daughter Lauren phones her to report that she is sick, the discovery of what is truly going on changes everything for the family. Anna tries to support her as best as possible while dealing with old undercurrents of bitterness from Lauren's grandmother. River's Call follows the journey of the family as they grow older and Lauren starts a family of her own, until Lauren hits rock bottom and returns to the River to determine whether her shattered life can be pieced back together.
I enjoyed this second novel in the series, much as I did the first one, River's Song. Anna is a truly likeable character who continues to grow as she is confronted with new circumstances. Her Native American heritage adds a deeper flavor to the story as Anna is confronted by prejudices but is still able to celebrate her family's origins and what they have to teach her and others. The time period that the story is written in, that of the 1960's and 1970's, is a fascinating one to read about, especially as viewed through Anna and Clark's eyes. For instance, it was quite interesting to see their reaction to the use of television becoming more common., when the idea of watching violent news shows on television was considered to be "grotesque"! River's Call is written in an easy to read manner, and upholds faith in God as well as going back to nature and being silent and still, and finding God therein.
I highly recommend this book and give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.
This review is based on an electronic copy provided by the publisher via Netgalley for the purpose of completing this review.