The Last River Child by Lori Ann Bloomfield is going to be one of my favorites this year and will stay on my shelf as a reread sometime in the future. This debut novel of Lori’s is terrific and one that I found I really didn’t want to put down until I finished it. It’s a shorter book at 280 pages making it one of those I actually wished had been longer as when I did turn that last page I was sad that the story was over.
Walvern, a small Ontario town has a legend that has existed for years…
This story is about Peg Staynor who has been unlucky enough to be labeled a river child. This has made life pretty difficult and lonely for Peg. The town believes that a river child brings nothing but trouble to it and is pure evil. This child is responsible for droughts, bad crops; pretty much anything that goes wrong in the town of Walvern can be blamed on the river child. People refuse to acknowledge her and she has no friends – even her father leans towards believing town gossip and this superstitious legend.
Peg lives with her mother, father and sister Sarah. Sarah is quite head strong and rebellious – always looking to be the center of attention and people all really like her. When Peg’s mother suddenly passes, her life is turned upside down. Her mother had always been the one who looked out for her and protected her from the gossip and told her that one day life would change for her. To top it off Peg’s mother dies on the same day that WW1 is declared – yet another reason for the town to believe she is a river child. Not only that but Peg is drawn to the river. Despite all warnings for a severe lashing from her father for going to the river, Peg continues to visit it.
Even though Peg is shunned by the town she still loves Walvern. She loves the farm where she grew up and amazingly enough never wants to leave. At one point she meets a young man by the river who wants to be an aviator and they become friends. There is also her sister Sarah who has always stood by her no matter what. That seems to be enough for Peg. When a few of the young men from town go off to the war, Peg ends up writing to Sarah’s husband whom she hurriedly married on impulse before he left for war but realizes it was a mistake afterwards. Peg and Arthur become good friends through this correspondence.
Surprisingly enough with this being a shorter book it packs a big punch. It is fast paced and never lacks for something going on. Peg has to hold things together when her sister Sarah gets into some trouble and when she suffers a tragedy at the farm. Peg is a great character – she’s strong and courageous and she still manages to move on and be happy in the face of all she endures at the hands of the town. I liked many of the other characters as well but Peg was my favorite. I loved how the book ended and of course I can’t tell you about that but it was a great end that left me a little teary eyed.
I think The Last River Child would be a great read any time whether it be for yourself or your book club. There’s a lot to discuss with old town superstitions and the effects of war on a small town. The Last River Child by Lori Ann Bloomfield can be purchased here in the US and here in Canada. Lori Ann Bloomfield is one Canadian author that is definitely on my watch list from this point forward. I look forward to her next novel. Be sure to check back tomorrow as Lori joins us here at Peeking Between the Pages with a guest post.
My thanks to the author Lori Ann Bloomfield and Second Story Press for my review copy of The Last River Child.