Review 1650: The River

Harriet and her family live along the river in a town in India. Harriet is dismayed at the changes in her sister Bea, who is becoming a young lady and is no longer fun to play with. Her brother Bogey spends his time looking at insects and animals in the garden. Victoria is just a baby. Harriet spends some time each day writing in her book that she keeps hidden away, and she also is fascinated by her parents’ guest, Captain John, who was injured in WWI. Captain John, however, likes Bea best.

This little novel has a plot, but it is mostly atmospheric and descriptive, of the garden and house, of life on the river. I was just a short way in when I realized that I had seen the movie based on it by Jean Renoir. I said, “If there’s a snake, I’ve seen this.” There was a snake.

The semi-autobiographical novel is about Harriet waking up from childhood and complete self-involvement and learning to become a writer. It is beautiful and touching.

My Virago Modern Classics version also included two short stories, “Red Doe,” about Ibrahim, a bakriwar nomad who is on the way to another encampment to claim a wife, and “The Little Black Ram,” about Jassouf, a bad boy who is tamed by being give a black ram to care for.

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9 thoughts on “Review 1650: The River

  1. piningforthewest April 22, 2021 / 5:03 pm

    I have this one on a bookshelf waiting to be read, I must get around to it soon as you liked it so much.

    • whatmeread April 22, 2021 / 11:28 pm

      It’s good. I recently read all her Indian novels. This and Black Narcissus were the best.

  2. Liz Dexter April 23, 2021 / 3:11 am

    She’s such an atmospheric writer and so good at getting right inside a child’s mind, isn’t she!

  3. Sandra April 23, 2021 / 3:46 am

    I included this one on my six degrees post recently. It’s ages since I read it but I remember it fondly. Interesting that you rate it so highly among her Indian novels; it’s not so well known as her others. I didn’t know there was a fim of it either. I’ll try to find that.

  4. Jane April 27, 2021 / 9:31 am

    This sounds lovely, atmospheric and descriptive is just what I need sometimes – thank you!

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