The Mill River Recluse by Darcie Chan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Mill River Recluse
The Mill River Recluse is the story of Mary McAllister, a quiet unassuming woman who struggled for most of her life to rise about the traumas of her life. Darcie Chan introduces us to Mary the night before she dies and then bounces back and forth between Mary at 16 and the events that occur after she dies, coloring in the details of Mary's life along the way in a story that spans time for the late 1930s to present day. There are a host of characters that fill out the story, from the wealthy McAllisters whom Mary joins by marriage to the present day inhabitants of Mill River who live in the sleepy town down hill from Mary's majestic home. Darcie tells us just enough of each character to serve as filler for her story, but not enough for me to form an enduring connection with them. The one exception was Father Michael O'Brien, Mary's friend and sole confidant for years. He is one of my favorite characters in the book. He was a priest wracked with the guilt of his own ongoing sin, but yet devoted his life to the service of one fragile soul and I fell in love with this character from the moment he first slipped. Other than him and perhaps as intended, Mary is my main connection to the story, and while she lived up to the challenge, I feel the other characters might have been a little gipped.
The overall theme of this story is redemption. Other reviews I have come across stated that the finale was overly positive and too saccharin sweet, however I felt inspired by Mary's battle and that of the other characters in the book. It was refreshing to read a story with a happy ending, especially when there had been so much pain. If you're seeking a simple read with a message of enduring and preservation, then consider this book.
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