With a strong, warm voice that brings the South to life, New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe writes richly textured stories that intimately portray the complex and emotional relationships we share with families, friends, and the natural world. "Every book that Mary Alice Monroe has written has felt like a homecoming to me," writes Pat Conroy, bestselling author of The Prince of Tides.
Time Is a River is an insightful novel that will sweep readers away to the seductive southern landscape, joining books by authors such as Anne Rivers Siddons and Sue Monk Kidd.
Recovering from breast cancer and reeling from her husband's infidelity, Mia Landan flees her Charleston home to heal in the mountains near Asheville, North Carolina. She seeks refuge in a neglected fishing cabin belonging to her fly-fishing instructor, Belle Carson.
Belle recently inherited the cabin, which once belonged to a grandmother she never knew -- the legendary fly fisher and journalist of the 1920s, Kate Watkins, whose life fell into ruins after she was accused of murdering her lover. Her fortune lost in the stock market crash and her reputation destroyed, Kate slipped into seclusion in the remote cabin. After her death the fishing cabin remained locked and abandoned for decades. Little does Belle know that by opening the cabin doors to Mia for a summer's sanctuary, she will open again the scandal that plagued Belle's family for generations.
From her first step inside the dusty cabin, Mia is fascinated by the traces of Kate's mysterious story left behind in the eccentric furnishings of the cabin. And though Belle, ashamed of the tabloid scandal that tortured her mother, warns Mia not to stir the mud, Mia is compelled to find out more about Kate...especially when she discovers Kate's journal.
The inspiring words of the remarkable woman echo across the years. Mia has been learning to fly-fish, and Kate's wise words comparing life to a river resonate deeply. She begins a quest to uncover the truth behind the lies. As she searches newspaper archives and listens to the colorful memories of the local small-town residents, the story of a proud, fiercely independent woman emerges. Mia feels a strange kinship with the woman who, like her, suffered fears, betrayal, the death of loved ones, and a fall from grace -- yet found strength, compassion and, ultimately, forgiveness in her isolation. A story timeless in its appeal emerges, with a power that reopens old wounds, but also brings a transforming healing for Mia, for Kate's descendants, and for all those in Mia's new community.
Monroe delivers another novel of strong Southern women, and though this one has its share of weak moments, the author's love for her characters is palpable throughout. Mia Landan, a cancer survivor, returns to Charleston after a fly-fishing retreat and finds her husband in bed with another woman. Shocked, Mia rushes back to the mountains where she'd been fishing and seeks the help of fly fisherman Belle Carson, who offers her the use of a ramshackle cabin for the summer. Upon Mia's first trip into town, she learns why the cabin looks like it hasn't been opened in years--it's where Kate Watkins, Belle's grandmother, allegedly murdered her lover. But after Mia conveniently finds Kate's diary tucked away in the cabin, she becomes determined to get to the bottom of things, despite Belle's warnings not to stir up the mud. Through a series of occasionally contrived diary entries, flashbacks and folksy recollections from locals, the narrative juxtaposes Kate's story with Mia's self-discovery, and while the predictable ending results from implausibly convenient plot twists, Monroe's fans will still enjoy the author's spin on love, mystery and the power of self-determination. (July)
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Showing 1-2 of the 2 most recent reviews
1 . One of the best fiction stories I have read.
Posted March 15, 2010 by K. MUELLER , Roanoke, VAA great book for women and especially for fly fisherwomen. The author was able to capture and put in to words the true peace and joy of fly fishing.
2 . A must read for all women!
Posted December 30, 2009 by Diane , CumberlandI could not put this book down and I recommend this book to all women.
July 07, 2008
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Excerpt from Time Is a River by Mary Alice Monroe
The charm of fly-fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive,
but attainable -- a perpetual series of occasions for hope.
The river was spawned high in the Appalachian Mountains formed of sedimentary rock and ancient ocean floor. Fed by rain and melted snow, rivulets of cold, clear water gush over boulders and between rocky ridges to lace the mountainsides. Thousands of miles of freestone streams run unchecked, cascading down to form the mighty rivers.
Mia Landan followed the river as it wound in a serpentine manner, deeper into the woods. To her right, the sienna-hued wall of rock was dotted with patches of bright green moss. To her left, the river raced on, rushing forward in a confident current. She reached over the passenger seat of her car to clutch a wrinkled sheet of paper from under a torn road map. Scribbled across the page of directions she read, Follow the river.
"I am not lost," she said aloud, though she doubted her words. She was following the pebbles in the river like Hansel and Gretel, believing that they would lead her through the dark forest to a safe haven. Except Mia Landan no longer believed in fairy tales.
Thunder rolled overhead, threatening rain. Back home in Charleston, South Carolina, the spring rain had already given way to scorching heat and humidity. Here in the North Carolina mountains, however, the air was still cool and the forests aflame with wildflowers. Around each bend in the road she encountered a cluster of rhododendrons blooming scarlet or white. A little farther on, the paved road ended to become a rutted bed of dirt and gravel, as worn and filled with holes as a pauper's coat.
A few fat drops of rain splattered against the windshield, turning the dust to long streaks of mud. She turned on the windshield wipers and her heartbeat matched the metronome click. She leaned far over the wheel, clutching it tight, peering through the sudden deluge at the sliver of road ahead. Where was the cabin? she worried as she peered through the rain and fog. Could it be this far off the beaten track? Just when she thought she should turn around and head back, the river tumbled over a ridge of rocks to a large pool. Beside it on a high bank, nestled between a pair of towering hemlocks, sat a rustic log cabin.
Mia released a ragged sigh, slumped her shoulders, and loosened her grip on the wheel. She had found it. It had been a long, circuitous drive with directions scribbled in haste. But she'd made it. Her wheels hit soft grass and mud as she parked as close to the cabin as she could.
Turning off the engine, she was immediately immersed in a deep mountain silence. The miles still raced in her veins. Her clothes clung and the car seat was littered with empty water bottles and candy wrappers. The stale air reminded her of hospital rooms. She lowered the window enough to let the fresh air awaken her after the long journey. The rain sprinkled in and she lifted her face to it, tasting its cool sweetness.
Mia looked again to the cabin. It lurked, isolated and foreboding, under the canopy of the trees and mist. The woods seemed to close in around her. She felt a shiver of loneliness. But hadn't she wanted a faraway, secluded place? A sanctuary? Rolling up the window she cast a worried glance at the clock on the dashboard. It was half past six. Belle had told her she would pick up supplies and meet her at the cabin no later than seven. There was nowhere to go. The cabin was locked and the rain was coming down in sheets. She was trapped in this car, in the wilderness, to wait as the night closed in around her. Relentless rain coursed tracks down her foggy window, mirroring the tears flowing down her cheeks. Mia brought her hands to her face and wondered how she got to this place.
It had all begun with fly-fishing. She'd never had any interest in the sport. She was a public relations director for the Spoleto arts festival in Charleston. Though she lived by the ocean and mountains, she didn't have any connection to either. Her idea of a good time was drinks and dinner at a restaurant with friends. If she went on a boat, it was docked for a party. A trip to the mountains meant a few days at a ski lodge. Nonetheless, her sister, Madeline, had signed her up for a three-day fly-fishing retreat designed especially for breast cancer survivors. Casting for Recovery provided spiritual and physical therapy, and Madeline believed Mia needed both.
So that spring Mia had driven hours from her home in Charleston to the Casting for Recovery retreat in the foothills of North Carolina. She'd agreed to go only to keep Madeline from nagging. Some of the women at the retreat were still early in their treatments. Others were ten, twenty, or more years post-diagnosis. At thirtyeight years old, Mia was the youngest. She was reticent at first, but Belle would not allow her to remain aloof.