I have to admit this is the first novel I've read by this author. In addition, for the last several years, as I've approached a certain age (I'm 61), I've tended to veer away from "reality" in my choice of reading materials and gone more for "fantasy", i.e., romance novels (hey, don't knock them until you try them), alternate universe stuff and books filled with mythical creatures. I love a good vampire story (maybe the age thing again, although I loved vampires even as a kid, oh well).
Anyway, this book. I wanted something different and this book delivered. Mia is "everywoman", despite the fact that not all of us have had to battle cancer. I wondered initially whether I could relate, and boy did I. I also wondered as I started the book whether this was going to be a female "ripoff" of A River Runs Through It". Well, I needn't have worried. It's anything but. It stands completely on its own. There is so much good stuff in this book including the fact that it is filled with wonderful, memorable characters.
It was lovely (and completely believable as written) to find a book full of people wanting to "help", as Mia struggles to realistically view her life and marriage before and after the cancer, and the truth of both, and to unravel the decades old mystery of the family the town is named after. Her journey is inspiring in so many ways, simply in recognizing her humanity, aside from the cancer survivor stuff.
It's hard to discuss the story itself because I don't want to reveal too much. This is a story that deserves to be savored. Each reader needs to discover the wonders of Watkins Mill, its human inhabitants, its natural wonders, and the spirit of Kate Watkins which lingers there, to help Mia with her journey toward not just recovery, but change, growth and enlightenment.
There are characters here we've all met, Charles for example, and even Belle to some extent. But so many others we'd love to meet, to spend time with. And although the author chose not to show it, I have no doubt that Mia will take care of her unfinished business in Charleston with all due speed, then return to Stuart and her river. We all need to step into that river, with or without a fly-fishing rod in our hands, and recognize it's truths.
I have to say, it was lovely to simply read this book with the same slow, lazy rhythm as that moving river. No car chases, no blazing guns, no gore, no gratuitous sex or violence. Just a wonderful story full of wisdom and insight and gentle lessons.
I could go on, but I think rather I'll take a look at some of Ms. Monroe's other offerings.