Rush of Shadows
written by Catherine Bell
published by Washington Writers’ Publishing House
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Did I enjoy this book: Yes, for the most part.
The book starts out really strong with two young newlyweds embarking on life’s journey together in 1855. They head out west in search of the American dream. The possibilities are so ripe in the beginning of the novel. She’s pregnant with their baby while he’s loaded with ambition.
As you probably guessed, life doesn’t turn out the way they plan. And this is where the story pace begins to slow. The conflict is subtle. The highs are muted and the lows are leveled. The story goes on . . . and on.
Toward the end, it manages to pick up again. Death is a cruel advisory, charging real emotion into the story once again.
Would I recommend it: If the story line is something that sounds interesting to you, yes.
About the book – from Goodreads: When American pioneers set their hearts on a California valley where Indians had been living for thousands of years, a period of uneasy appraisal emerged, followed by conflict and soon enough by genocide. The epic greed and violence of the 1850’s and 60’s has been brushed aside by history, conveniently forgotten in the pride of conquest. Willful ignorance and cruelty, terror and desperation were common in that time, but there were moments too of nobility and compassion, ingenuity and forgiveness, qualities which might have prevailed if certain things had been different. Rush of Shadows brings to life two freethinking women, Mellie, a white, and Bah
About the author: Catherine Bell grew up in a New England family with a sense of its past as distinguished and its culture superior, as chronicled in many of her short stories. An early reader, she found in fiction that penetrating experience of other people’s lives that opens a wider world. The Winsor School, Harvard, and Stanford prepared her to recognize good writing and thinking. She credits work as a gardener, cook, cashier, waitress, and schoolbus driver with teaching her how to live in that wider world.
She has also worked as a secretary, freelance writer, and therapist, served as a teacher in the Peace Corps, and taught in inner city schools. She has lived in Paris, Brasilia, Nova Scotia, Northern California, and Washington, D.C. Culture clashes, even within families, are often subjects of her fiction. She has published stories in a number of journals, including Midway Journal, Coal City Review, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Sixfold, Solstice, and South Carolina Review. Her story “Among the Missing” won The Northern Virginia Review’s 2014 Prose Award.
She researched and wrote Rush of Shadows, her first novel, over a period of twenty years after she married a fourth-generation Californian and fell in love with his home territory, the Coast Range. The bright sunburned hills, dark firs, clear shallow streams, and twisted oaks were splendid, but the old barns and wooden churches and redwood train station didn’t seem old enough. Where was the long past? Where were the Indians? There was only the shadow of a story passed down by her husband’s grandmother late in life. Born in 1869, she grew up playing with Indian children whose parents worked on the ranch her father managed. One day the Army came to remove the Indians and march them to the reservation, and that was that. She was four years old, and she never forgot.
Bell lives with her husband in Washington, D.C. and visits children and grandchildren in California and Australia. As a teacher at Washington International School, she loves reading great books with teenagers.