Through Rushing Water
By Catherine Richmond
Thomas Nelson Publishers
03 July 2012
When I chose Through Rushing Water, I didn’t realize it was written by an author whose work I’ve already reviewed! I realize I’m late to the party for this book, and it’s been languishing on my review pile since I received it last summer, buried by more pressing matters (mostly non-review-related, to my own credit at least). Now that I’ve finally got it on tap, however, let’s jump right in!
Sophia Makinoff, the main character, manages to irritate me right from the beginning. She thinks she’s going to marry a United States Congressman and debut in Washington in 1876, but instead he proposes to her roommate, a young woman who is barely introduced before she (and “civilized society”) is brushed off for a more daring—and less embarassing—adventure in Dakota Territory after Sophia signs up to become a missionary teacher and takes the first mission given to her.
As the story progressed, however, I came to despise the US government officials even more than the Native Americans’ white saviors, of which Sophia is only one. Through Rushing Water is also a love story between Sophia and Will, a white carpenter and all-around handyman who manages to be more upstanding and selfless in the face of so much corruption than is practically realistic.
Sophia dreamed of a “romantic posting to the Far East” and was instead sent to the Ponca Indian Agency. I hoped for a serious historical fiction and was instead presented with romance plus a dash of history for flavor. To the author’s credit, she did her research about the tragedy that the Ponca Indians had to endure and suggests at the end of the novel two other nonfiction books that may fill in the gaps that her fiction created: “I Am a Man”: Chief Standing Bear’s Journey for Justice by Joe Starita, and An Unspeakable Sadness: The Dispossession of the Nebraska Indians by David J. Wishart. If you’re thinking about reading Through Rushing Water, I recommend picking up those two books first so that you have some historical context for the fiction the author presents. I may not have been so disappointed in the novel, I think, if I had known more about what actually happened beforehand.
Overall, the main characters grew on me, and I’ll admit right now that even I’m a sucker for a bit of romance once in a while. Catherine Richmond’s work is solid and well-written, generally speaking, and I’ve certainly had to review much worse books than this one. I’m looking forward to her next novel.
DISCLAIMER: I received Through Rushing Water free from Thomas Nelson Publishers for this review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.