The River Sings by Sandra Leigh Price
PUBLISHED BY HARPER COLLINS AUSTRALIA
REVIEW BY NAOMI GALLICHAN
The River Sings is set across time periods from the early 1800s in London and the surrounding areas. Essentially, the story is about Eglantine and the gradual uncovering of her family history. Born into a gypsy family, Eglantine is taught by her father Amberline Stark to survive via theft. While it sounds simple, it’s the small intricacies of this story that make it so captivating.
It begins with Eglantine's mother's point of view of her birth, and often jumps back to her side of the unfolding events as Eglantine uncovers the family secrets. Eglantine goes on to learn from her father the tricks of the trade and hone the skill of nimble fingers. While she comes to resent this from her father, she must rely on it to survive and maintain their home after he is sent to the Penal colony in NSW. She remembers very little of her mother and spends the book discovering what happened to her, dealing with the loss and trying to create a new future.
The book is beautifully written and makes you feel as though you are getting an accurate representation of what life would have been like in the early 1800s, including the dangers of dealing with authorities and unwelcome illnesses. The beliefs and culture of the Romanies are magical and heartwarming – the way Sandra describes it, it makes you want to believe, too.
The River Sings is an easy read that draws you deep into Eglantines world; it’s relatable with her complicated relationships and old lingering patterns. A great read for this coming winter!
Find this novel in store at Planet Books. Ask the friendly staff for guidance too, and they’ll be more than happy to order you in a copy if it’s already sold out.