Monthly Archives: August 2013

[Review] – What the River Washed Away by Muriel Macleod

Posted 15 August, 2013 by DLWhite in Reviews, Writers Read 0 Comments

What the River Washed Away Book Cover What the River Washed Away
Muriel Mharie Macleod
Oneworld Publications
June 6, 2013

Inspired by real-life events, this is the remarkable and uncompromising story of one young woman’s refusal to accept her fate in 1920s Louisiana Jobs and Jesus from the big town don't ever seem to make it out here. Not down through the hackberry woods to the shack where I live with my Mambo. Not now Pappy’s gone. No, here’s where the old ways squat, where devil’s work heals and some say harms. That don’t mean the big town don’t visit though – white folks with their shirt sleeves, liquor stink, and nasty ways. More dark in them than even Mambo can hold off. But I got me a friend now, fierce and vengeful, and we got a powerful secret that’s gonna change everything.


Every once in awhile I read a book that makes me want to hug it close to my heart and cherish it. I’ve read some page turners (i.e. anything by Paul Cleave) and I have read some ‘really good books’, especially lately. It takes a certain kind of book to feel like it has endeared itself to me.

It took me a few chapters to pick up the 1920’s Louisiana dialect, but once I got into it, I almost didn’t notice it. And perhaps it is the very similar cover, but my brain wanted to draw parallels to The Darkest Child– a mother who was known to be loose and considered a ‘disappointment’ of sorts by one or both parents, a child pretty much raising herself who wants to go to school and learn– and does very well at it. There’s also a similarity in the use of witchcraft. Tangy Mae’s grandmother used witchcraft and Arletta’s mother is a like a witch doctor, who uses herbs and plants, among other things to cast spells and draw spirits.

The story picks up for me when Mambo forces Arletta to move out at 14 and strike out on her own. With her best friend Safi, they settle in a nearby town and get jobs at the mill. I’m impressed with young Arletta and how she’s able to secure a nice place to live and become close with the landlady. It seems like things really fall into place for her, specifically whens he seeks out a new job and much later when she expresses her desire to work in Africa.

Several dark themes wind through this novel, which– maybe I am morbid- made it a page turner for me. Since she was a child, Arletta has endured a frightening recurring event. I was particularly moved by the scene in which she goes down to the river, intending to down herself but is encouraged to find her strength and press on. It is this ‘voice’ that she hears that becomes her constant companion and her strength when she feels she has none.

There’s so much to this story, most of which I can’t get to in this review. I want people to read it for themselves, get lost in it, engrossed it, laugh and cry and cheer for the revenge plot, because it is delicious!

This was an intense story, beautifully told.

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#FridayReads- A Tap On the Window, The Curl Up and Dye, Decadence

As I noted in an earlier post, I am participating in Conquer the Bookstacks, and in an attempt to a) Get to my Goodreads goal so I can extend it and b) take care of some reading that I needed to get done for NetGalley. I like to have the books read and reviews up just before or right after a book releases. I figure it’s the least I can do, especially if I really enjoyed a book.

Conquer the Book Stacks- August 2013- #CTBS

Conquer the Book Stacks- August 2013- #CTBS

Here’s a challenge I can really sink my teeth into! I’ve been following a few book blogs that are running a challenge this month called Conquer the Book Stacks. For some, this means thinning out the To Read list to a (more) manageable pile and then digging into whittle that list down. For some, it means a restriction on acquiring new books (unless you’re visited by the book fairy). For some, it means getting serious about that GoodReads 2013 Reading challenge and knocking out a significant portion of reading. Whatever that means to you, I hope you’ll hop on the train! My goal for this challenge is to actually complete […]