The River King

The River King

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For more than a century, the small town of Haddan, Massachusetts, has been divided, as if by a line drawn down the centre of Main Street, separating those born and bred in the 'village' from those who attend the prestigious Haddan School. But one October night the two worlds are thrust together by an inexplicable death and the town's divided history is revealed in all its complexity. The lives of everyone involved are unravelled: from Carlin Leander, the fifteen-year-old scholarship girl who is as loyal as she is proud, to Betsy Chase, a woman running from her own destiny; from August Pierce, a loner and a misfit at school who unexpectedly finds courage in his darkest hour, to Abel Grey, the police officer who refuses to let unspeakable actions - both past and present - slide by without more

Product details

  • Paperback | 336 pages
  • 126 x 196 x 28mm | 222.26g
  • Vintage Publishing
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0099286521
  • 9780099286523
  • 431,920

Review Text

The small town of Haddan, Massachusetts, was built too close to the river Haddon and significantly subject to floods. Closest and most vulnerable is a 'progressive' boarding school, for rich, out-of-town kids. But the school doesn't take part in anything to do with the town. Haddan consists of two quite separate worlds, each harbouring distrust of the other. At the school rules are lax, both staff (who have their own agendas) and students turn a blind eye to regulations. Alchol is drunk (in large quantities), tobacco and pot smoked. On summer nights boys and girls escape to the woods and river banks; whole nights are spent by boys in the girls' rooms. There is bullying. Carlin Leander (not rich, at the school on sufference and a swimming scholarship) and August Pierce (a clever, idiosyncratic boy with secrets) are alien to all: misfits and instant friends, until Carlin catches the eye of Harry McKenna, the school 'stud'. Her infatuation with Harry drives Gus further within himself. He becomes increasingly eccentric and elusive. Then something truly shocking happens and the whole community collapses into confusion, horror and recrimination. American writers have a special talent for evoking life in small rural communities - usually superficially placid, but seething underneath with vendettas. Alice Hoffman - mistress of the art - leads the reader purposefully into her own schismatic world. Using tiny, almost irrelevant, detail, she reveals places and people we feel are only just beyond the corners of our eyes. Minor as well as major players are cunningly invoked. And over all hangs a brooding, uneasy cloud of menace which crinkles the scalp. Something - very unpleasant - is going to happen. A tale of the thoughtless arrogance of youth and its shocking capacity to torment, but the message in its aftermath is one of both sorrow and hope. (Kirkus UK)show more

About Alice Hoffman

Alice Hoffman is the bestselling author of acclaimed novels, including Here on Earth (an Oprah Book Club selection), Practical Magic (a Hollywood film), The River King, Blue Diary, Turtle Moon and most recently Skylight Confessions. Blackbird House was shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. She divides her time between Boston and New York more

Review quote

"The River King is proof that [Alice Hoffman] just gets better and better" London Times "Alice Hoffman is simply brilliant" Daily Mail "The language rewards, as the story engrosses" Independent "Shrewd, intelligent, kindly and humane" Irish Times "It can be hard to find an example of good old-fashioned storytelling these days, but storytelling, refreshingly, is Alice Hoffman's strength" New York Times Book Reviewshow more