The story starts out promising but at the halfway mark I felt like the author had yet to come up with a powerful conflict/mystery to keep me in page turning mode. The characters she created had potential to be more interesting than they became. Go into this book with low expectations and you might just enjoy it.
There is much to recommend in Tricia Dower's <i>Stony River</i>, starting with the writing. Her prose is both readable and well paced; the detail regarding her setting (the Fifties) and character backgrounds (especially Irish Wicca) is both interesting and educational, and she integrates this "background music" into her story with great skill. It is the story, as usual however, that intrigues me the most. Three young unlikely female heroes manage, with the help of older wiser female characters, to overcome male daemons (overprotective parents, child abusers, psychopaths, and religious zealots) and achieve self-understanding and fulfillment. It's a good storyline, more comedy than romance, in terms of structure. It definitely has the God-bless-us-everyone ending expected in comedy; the elements of daring-do from romance kept me turning pages. As much as the 1950s were, for me, an idle of tranquility, they were also a time when women were not allowed to run more than 800m for fear they would damage themselves, Joe McCarthy's maniacal jingoism terrorized the media, and African Americans were required to use separate drinking fountains. Revisiting my youth without those greater evils was a comfort, but it was also a cold comfort: three well-woven tales of success in a tapestry which time has shown was marred with oppression and failure. Did I expect more? Not necessarily. Since the male obstacles portrayed--while they seem small in comparison to the institutional villains of the time--are still problems today, perhaps the message is: we haven't progressed as far as we might have hoped in the past sixty years--more ironic than comic to me.
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