Title: Follow the River
Author: James Alexander Thom
Date Finished: 30 March 2009
My Rating: 3 Stars
Challenges: 100+, New Author, Library
I read this book for book club and then went out of town and missed the meeting when the book was discussed. I am not sure if that is good or bad because I did not enjoy this book very much whereas, I think, most of the other members of the book group I attend did enjoy it.
Follow the River tells the story of Mary Draper Ingels, who was abducted by Indians and lived amongst them for a time before escaping and walking about 800 miles through wilderness terrain to return home. I found this article in Blue Ridge Country Magazine that gives an account of Mary's experience.
I like good historical fiction but I just don't know if I can consider this good historical fiction. Reading this book really left me wanting to read some non-fiction on the subject to get a better feel for the real story.
The fact that this novel was based on a true story was the most interesting thing it had going for it. I just did not care for the author's treatment of the story. I felt several parts were just to sensationalized and unrealistic. For example, I found myself questioning if the author really expected me to believe that this woman was have feelings for the man who just days before brutally massacred most of her family and friends and destroyed her home and village? Really? Truly? Please! And her husband? He was drawn pretty flat and unlikeable. His biggest concern about his wife, who has just arrived home emaciated and barely alive after her harrowing journey, is whether or not she has been "spoiled" by the Indians. And if she had been? Well, he just did not think he could live with that. Nice. Plays a little too much into outdated stereotypes.
The narrative also really dragged at times as I felt I was reading the same thing over and over and over again. I know it was a long, harrowing and difficult journey and I know it is a miracle Mary even made it back to Virginia but I don't think I need to read about the roots they are eating and cliffs they are climbing on every page for about 200 pages.
Honestly, just give me some good primary sources to read about Mary Ingles and I am sure I'll enjoy them much better than I did this novel.