Rush of Shadows
There are some books that you just tear through at a rapid pace, not caring about the writing because you have to know what happens, and you have to know right now. Then there are books that are so beautiful that you want to draw out the reading experience as long as possible. You only read a chapter or two at a time because you want to enjoy it for as long as you can. This is the latter kind of book. It is a story to savor.
Rush of Shadows tells the story of Mellie and Law, settlers who set out to build a home and make a life in the northern California wilderness, back when it was still plentiful. Their way of life is entirely foreign to most people nowadays, and that makes the lovingly described day-to-day concerns fascinating. The pacing of the story is also wonderful. It skips over entire months, only to stop and tell of the barn collapsing under snow or of the stunning acorn dance, emphasizing the importance of these relatively minor (in the grand scheme of things) events.
Catherine Bell does an incredible job of interweaving the minutiae of Mellie’s life with larger historical issues, both aspects of the story serving to create a definite sense of place. More than any other book I’ve read, Rush of Shadows allows me imagine what life was like for the early settlers. She also handles the conflict between the Americans and the Native Americans in a way that is sensitive while also honoring history. One of the most noteworthy characters is Bahé, a native woman whom Mellie comes to understand and trust. Their friendship is the cornerstone of this unusual and lovely take on the American West.
This is a gorgeous story, beautifully told, and I will keep returning to it on those rare, luxurious days when I can really spend time with a book.
|Washington Writers' Publishing House
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