The River by Starlight
Her brother’s letter touched a match to the wick of Annie’s doused dreams. Dream enough for her, to stroll the length of a town without the abortive glances, the stilted greetings, the wider berth given her on the sidewalk. “I could use some help out here,” he wrote. “What’s holding you to Iowa anyway?”
Annie Rushton leaves behind an unsettling past to join her brother on his Montana homestead and make a determined fresh start. There, sparks fly when she tangles with Adam Fielding, a visionary businessman-farmer determined to make his own way and answer to no one. Neither is looking for a partner, but they give in to their undeniable chemistry.
Annie and Adam’s marriage brims with astounding success and unanticipated passion, but their dream of having a child eludes them as a mysterious illness of mind and body plagues Annie’s pregnancies. Amidst deepening economic adversity, natural disaster, and the onset of world war, their personal struggles collide with the societal mores of the day. Annie’s shattering periods of black depression and violent outbursts exact a terrible price. The life the Fieldings have forged begins to unravel, and the only path ahead leads to unthinkable loss.
Based on true events, this sweeping novel weaves a century-old story, timeless in its telling of love, heartbreak, healing, and redemption embodied in one woman’s tenacious quest for control over her own destiny in the face of devastating misfortune and social injustice.
Praise for The River by Starlight
“Captivating . . . the writing is exquisite . . . weaves heartache and redemption together to illuminate the power of love in life’s darkest moments.”
There is nothing I didn’t love about this book. The language is exquisite, a mixture of steel and silk—the narrative voice uncannily powerful and sure, yet tender. The story will grow tendrils around your heart, squeezing it until you can barely breathe. It’s the story of one woman’s tragic and puzzling mental frailty, but more, it is a love story, and a heart-rending study of the forced redefining of family. Trenchant dialogue and lyrical prose reveal the very soul of the unforgettable characters in this book. Recommended to any reader with a heart.
Filled with vivid characters and descriptions, heartache, loss and the healing power of love, The River by Starlight is a tribute to so many women who were treated unjustly and who managed to find their way and survive. Bravo, Ellen Notbohm!
A ten for voice and originality. Some of the best dialogue I’ve read, a voice that held me spellbound and a story that kept me turning the page. I surprised myself by shedding tears of joy and sorrow as I read, the story is like a symphony in the nuanced way it’s handled.
“Ellen Notbohm elevates the facts of a century-ago marriage to the story of Annie and Adam Fielding, trapped in tragic circumstances over which they have no control. The story is told with deep understanding, which draws in the reader, and with respect for the human heart, which won’t abandon hope.”
“Graceful and unflinching . . . a complex journey through grief, fulfillment, betrayal, and forgiveness.”
Heart-wrenching yet hopeful, The River by Starlight is a compelling and beautifully written debut novel.
…masterfully weaves the story of Annie and Adam Fielding, two star-crossed people who come together in an attempt to bring forth life on an early 20th-century farm in Montana. Rich with beautiful prose stitched together with authentic, shimmering dialogue and a love story that leaves you aching, Ellen Notbohm’s debut novel is sure to stun.
The River by Starlight superbly captures the landscape of early 20th century American West, and the hearts and minds of those who lived there. Notbohm courageously explores life’s challenges and mysteries, proving we know not what Mother Nature will deliver nor what secrets our loved ones hold. She deftly depicts vivid settings, expertly portrays memorable characters who are simultaneously fierce and fragile, and artfully develops complex relationships. The prose is beautiful; the dialogue is spot-on; the research is thorough; and the story told so well pages turn themselves. Ultimately, she knits a powerful story with contemporary questions that resonate long after the book is closed.