TOLD through the eyes of two women from 1819 to 1838, this is an engrossing tale. There is a difference here, because the women are Romany this is the first time I have reviewed a novel with such a fascinating background.
The writer has researched their travelling life style, and their traditions, so that the reader is constantly learning as he/she becomes entranced by their ways. Patrin, the mother, and Eglatine, the daughter, are alike in many ways, but also unalike, with the constant link being water, usually a river.. Indeed a river is always there, a true character, without which Eglatine would not have been born. Her mother eased her pain by taking to the river, so that her daughter was truly a riverling born in the river, and of the river. Her mother and her father, Amberline, loved her dearly. Amberline was a professional thief, and he wanted his daughter to follow in his footsteps. He trained her nimble fingers to do his bidding, as soon as he had her to himself in London, away from the gypsies. The housekeeper there, Makepeace, seems to be something more than her work would normally attain, but Eglatine cannot understand why, until …… But that would be telling. There are so many twists in this tale that the final ending in Australia comes as something of a relief. To come to that conclusion, is to achieve great satisfaction, but also great sadness, tinged with hope. Surely Australia would offer more than the teeming streets of London ever could. As we learn that a number of Romany families were transported to Sydney Cove, there could easily be a sequel in the offing. This reviewer certainly trusts that there is, even if, again, she has to make sure that she follows all those tantalising twists and turns. Truly “the river sings”.
THE RIVER SINGS by SANDRA LEIGH PRICE
PUBLISHED by FOURTH ESTATE for a recommended $32.99