The River Wife by Jonis Agee
A Novel

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From acclaimed novelist Jonis Agee, whom The New York Times Book Review called “a gifted poet of that dark lushness in the heart of the American landscape,” The River Wife is a sweeping, panoramic story that ranges from the New Madrid earthquake of 1811 through the Civil War to the bootlegging days of the 1930s.

When the earthquake brings Annie Lark’s Missouri house down on top of her, she finds herself pinned under the massive roof beam, facing certain death. Rescued by French fur trapper Jacques Ducharme, Annie learns to love the strong, brooding man and resolves to live out her days as his “River Wife.”

More than a century later, in 1930, Hedie Rails comes to Jacques’ Landing to marry Clement Ducharme, a direct descendant of the fur trapper and river pirate, and the young couple begin their life together in the very house Jacques built for Annie so long ago. When, night after late night, mysterious phone calls take Clement from their home, a pregnant Hedie finds comfort in Annie’s leather-bound journals. But as she reads of the sinister dealings and horrendous misunderstandings that spelled out tragedy for the rescued bride, Hedie fears that her own life is paralleling Annie’s, and that history is repeating itself with Jacques’ kin.

Among the family’s papers, Hedie encounters three other strong-willed women who helped shape Jacques Ducharme’s life–Omah, the freed slave who took her place beside him as a river raider; his second wife, Laura, who loved money more than the man she married; and Laura and Jacques’ daughter, Maddie, a fiery beauty with a nearly uncontrollable appetite for love. Their stories, together with Annie’s, weave a haunting tale of this mysterious, seductive, and ultimately dangerous man, a man whose hand stretched over generations of women at a bend in the river where fate and desire collide.

The River Wife
richly evokes the nineteenth-century South at a time when lives changed with the turn of a card or the flash of a knife. Jonis Agee vividly portrays a lineage of love and heartbreak, passion and deceit, as each river wife comes to discover that blind devotion cannot keep the truth at bay, nor the past from haunting the present.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Jonis Agee

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onis Agee is the author of four novels, Sweet Eyes, Strange Angels, South of Resurrection, and The Weight of Dreams, four collections of short fiction, Pretend We've Never Met, Bend This Heart, A .38 SPECIAL AND A BROKEN HEART, and TAKING THE WALL, and a book of poetry, Houses. Three of her books--Strange Angels, Bend This Heart, and Sweet Eyes--were named Notable Books of the Year by The New York Times. TAKING THE WALL won the Foreword Magazine Editor's Choice Award and The Weight of Dreams won the Nebraska Book Award. Jonis Agee is a Nebraska native who has lived and taught throughout the Midwest. She is now Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Published July 17, 2007 by Random House. 434 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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A catfish stew of a novel from Agee (The Weight of Dreams, 1999, etc.), covering three generations of a Missouri farming family that can’t shake its river pirate roots.

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Book Reporter

The past continually haunts the present in Jonis Agee's historical novel THE RIVER WIFE, the story of four generations of women whose lives are intertwined with charismatic, larger-than-life Jacques Ducharme.

Jan 23 2011 | Read Full Review of The River Wife: A Novel

USA Today

The story begins in 1930, when pregnant teenager Hedie Rails comes to the town of Jacques Landing in Missouri's Bootheel region to marry Clement Ducharme and live in the house that Jacques had raised a century earlier for his first wife, Annie Lark.This is a house that past and present share, sep...

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The River Wife, the latest novel by Jonis Agee, starts with a deceptively placid prologue told in the first person by a 17-year-old named Hedie Rails who arrives at a place known as Jacques’ Landing, Mo., in 1930.

Nov 14 2007 | Read Full Review of The River Wife: A Novel

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