River Jordan
Augusta Trobaugh
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River Jordan
Augusta Trobaugh
256 pages
June 2005
rated 3 of 5 possible stars

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Having now read a couple of novels by Augusta Trobaugh, it was with curiosity that this reviewer read River Jordan. This novel has a different feel from Swan Place and Sophie and the Rising Sun. While the other two books had a gentler feel to the writing, River Jordan has a grittier feel to it. Also, while Swan Place and Sophie both seemed to focus on only one plot, River Jordan has several subplots going on at the same time with several important characters, all of them overlapping such that characters in one subplot are also active in another.

The book opens in the local jail with Pansy, a black woman, waiting for her parole hearing when she sees a vision of Jesus coming to her. After this experience, she embraces Jesus as her savior and becomes born-again.

In the meantime, Peony, Pansy's sister, is dealing with a stressful situation. Her employers, Miss Alice and Mr. Franklin, are trying to figure out how to deal with his elderly mother. The home where she is living has just announced its closure, so they need to find a place for her to live. Peony thinks that if Pansy can get out of jail, she would be the perfect person to help care for the elderly Mrs. Franklin, known as Miss Amy Lee. It would also give Pansy a fresh start at a new life, working for someone that Peony knew.

Another subplot involves Alice's daughter, Jordan, who is very unhappy with her mother's new marriage. She does not get much love in this new home, with Mr. Franklin always reprimanding the young girl. Alice does nothing to side with her own daughter and tends to do whatever her new husband asks of her. Jordan begins to feel unloved in her own home.

When Pansy is finally released from jail and comes home, a number of lives change, probably for the better. She bonds with her new employer, Miss Amy Lee, who slowly "wakes up" and reverts to her lively old self again, the person that young Jordan remembers before Miss Amy Lee was sent to the old folks’ home to live. The three of them end up on an adventure to beat all adventures, involving yet another character, Gertie, a teenager with such a horrible disposition that most readers will probably dislike this character after getting to know her.

Gertie has her own story, a plan to get out of town where she feels she’s going nowhere and move to the big city. She lives with her grandmother, because her own mother deserted her years ago, and currently works at the local diner, Miss Sweetie Pie’s Cafe. She is an ungrateful employee, an ungrateful granddaughter, and when she finds herself a boyfriend, she finds a way to latch on to him and leave town without a care in the world. This is where Jordan, Miss Amy Lee, and Pansy find themselves on a trip to locate the missing Gertie.

Overall, River Jordan is an enjoyable read, but the book’s writing style is not as tight as the other two Trobaugh books mentioned above. There are too many subplots, although they all do come together at some point. With so much going on, this book doesn't quite have the same impact as the other two books. This book has a less serious tone throughout, despite the fact that Pansy has been in jail, and the fact that Jordan is another unhappy child in an Augusta Trobaugh book. But it still focuses on life in the Deep South that Trobaugh is so good at writing about. Any person who has enjoyed Swan Place or Sophie and the Rising Sun should give River Jordan a read. While not as enjoyable as these two books, it is worth reading.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Marie Hashima Lofton, 2005

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