Good entertainment on The River Road

Gervais d’Alvery comes home from World War I to marry his sweetheart, Merry Randall, and make his Louisiana sugar plantation profitable again.

Gervais sees state politics as a means of improving the economic climate for planters like himself. His war-hero status, family name, and good looks make him a natural.

The River Road by Frances Parkinson Keyes

Julian Messner, 1945. 747 p. 1946 bestseller #3. My grade: B.

Workers load long stalks of sugar cane on a wagonBy their 10th anniversary, the couple have five children, a huge mortgage, and a none-too-well-hidden secret.

As Gervais tries to resuscitate his family fortunes, other men with less aristocratic origins —and some with far fewer principles — are making their mark in business and politics.

Louisiana in World War II will be far different than in World War I.

In The River Road, Frances Parkinson Keyes displays the story-telling flair that made her one of the top names in fiction in the middle of the last century.

The plot is intricate, but nothing seems extraneous in this well-crafted novel.

The characters are complex individuals. They have annoying foibles as well as some outright flaws, but they are believable, likable human beings.

A few weeks after you close the covers, you’ll have forgotten what The River Road was about,  but while you’re reading, it will give as much pleasure as it did in ’46.

© 2016 Linda Gorton Aragoni

Floodtide Is a Wash Out

In 1850, Ross Pary returns to his native Natchez attired as a gentleman. He has an Oxford education and credentials as an architect. He aims to become a gentleman planter.

Before he is off the boat, Ross is smitten by the gorgeous, amoral Morgan Brittany, whose much-older husband becomes Ross’s best friend, helping him gain acceptance in planter society.

Ross falls for the daughter of a Cuban freedom fighter. He follows Conchita to Cuba and joins in the fight against the Spanish. Ross and Conchita marry just before they are caught and separated, each thinking the other is dead.

Ross goes back to America, where he eventually marries. Conchita goes to Europe and becomes a celebrated dancer.

As Civil War looms, Ross frees his slaves, incurring the wrath of his neighbors and his vehemently pro-slavery wife. Morgan connives to separate Ross from his wife, and succeeds in a way she never imagined.

Floodtide is a hodgepodge of episodes from standard romance fiction strung together with Ross Pary in the leading male role. Unfortunately, author Frank Yerby’s doesn’t stick with romance. He pulls in a half dozen other genres as well.

Whatever your literary tastes, you’ll find something to dislike in this awful novel.

by Frank Yerby
Dial Press, 1950
1950 bestseller #6
My grade: C
© 2010 Linda Gorton Aragoni