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The Frozen River by Ariel Lawhon
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The Frozen River (original 2023; edition 2023)

by Ariel Lawhon (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4463355,881 (4.41)11
Biography & Autobiography. Nonfiction. HTML:PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST â?˘ NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST â?˘ From the bestselling author of Fruit of the Drunken Tree, comes a dazzling, kaleidoscopic memoir reclaiming her family's otherworldly legacy.
A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: TIME, NPR, VULTURE, PEOPLE, BOSTON GLOBE, VANITY FAIR, ESQUIRE, & MORE

â??Rojas Contreras reacquaints herself with her familyâ??s past, weaving their stories with personal narrative, unraveling legacies of violence, machismo and colonialismâ?¦ In the process, she has written a spellbinding and genre-defying ancestral history.â?ťâ??New York Times Book Review 

For Ingrid Rojas Contreras, magic runs in the family. Raised amid the political violence of 1980s and '90s Colombia, in a house bustling with her motherâ??s fortune-telling clients, she was a hard child to surprise. Her maternal grandfather, Nono, was a renowned curandero, a community healer gifted with what the family called â??the secretsâ?ť: the power to talk to the dead, tell the future, treat the sick, and move the clouds. And as the first woman to inherit â??the secrets,â?ť Rojas Contrerasâ?? mother was just as powerful. Mami delighted in her ability to appear in two places at once, and she could cast out even the most persistent spirits with nothing more than a glass of water.
This legacy had always felt like it belonged to her mother and grandfather, until, while living in the U.S. in her twenties, Rojas Contreras suffered a head injury that left her with amnesia. As she regained partial memory, her family was excited to tell her that this had happened before: Decades ago Mami had taken a fall that left her with amnesia, too. And when she recovered, she had gained access to â??the secrets.â?ť
In 2012, spurred by a shared dream among Mami and her sisters, and her own powerful urge to relearn her family history in the aftermath of her memory loss, Rojas Contreras joins her mother on a journey to Colombia to disinter Nonoâ??s remains. With Mami as her unpredictable, stubborn, and often amusing guide, Rojas Contreras traces her lineage back to her Indigenous and Spanish roots, uncovering the violent and rigid colonial narrative that would eventually break her mestizo family into two camps: those who believe â??the secretsâ?ť are a gift, and those who are convinced they are a curse.
Interweaving family stories more enchanting than those in any novel, resurrected Colombian history, and her own deeply personal reckonings with the bounds of reality, Rojas Contreras writes her way through the incomprehensible and into her inheritance. The result is a luminous testament to the power of storytelling as a heali
… (more)
Member:AnitaDeBono
Title:The Frozen River
Authors:Ariel Lawhon (Author)
Info:Simon Schuster Australia (2023), 448 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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The Frozen River by Ariel Lawhon (2023)

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» See also 11 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
Very good book. Takes place in Maine on the Kennebec River. ( )
  Ferg.ma | Apr 13, 2024 |
This book was just so good. I love the strong woman character and she was just so smart and powerful in a mature way. This book also made me so frustrated with how the men treated women and that they weren't able to do so many things. If a woman was pregnant out of wedlock, it's basically her fault and there was a court thing. It was just crazy, because this was based on true events. I LOVED the author's afterward where she talks about where she got the idea and what was real and what wasn't. Really cool. And that she was in a doctor's office and happened to see something about Martha in a magazine or something. And if the doctor wasn't late, and she didn't see that, then there wouldn't have been a book. Anyway, the book was amazing. SPOILER: And at the end, where she cut off the judge's dick when he tried to rape her...soooo good. The book made you hate the judge SO MUCH and his character was such an asshole that when she did that, and got away with it...just winning. Really good book and makes me want to check out other books by this author! ( )
  Mav-n-Libby | Apr 12, 2024 |
I would categorize this book as a historical crime novel. The story was based on a real person... Martha Ballard midwife and healer in Hallowell Maine, in 1790. It is not biographic fiction. Rather, it is a story about "what could have happened in this woman's life".(p. 425, Author's Note) The book is loosely based on some of Martha's diary entries that the author read, relating to rape in the community, and her involvement with the victim.
The novel is more plot-driven than character-driven.
I see Martha as a round but static character. We are aware of her past, her hopes and dreams. She does not change in any way throughout the novel. The rest of the characters are rather flat and static.
In many of her diary entries, Martha wrote, " I have been at home." And while this was the role for most women, Martha found a voice in the community. Her role was essential to the families within Hallowell. She was also allowed to give testimony in court. In this novel, she becomes involved in the investigation of a murder of a man accused of rape.
It was very readable. I stayed up until 2 am to finish it.
To see my entire review:
https://lovelearning619870804.wordpress.com/2024/03/04/book-review-the-frozen-ri... ( )
  Chrissylou62 | Apr 11, 2024 |
One of the best historical fiction books I’ve read. Absolutely fantastic. Thoroughly researched, creatively interpreted, and woven together in a way that makes it feel 100% true to life (though the author’s note at the end carefully differentiates the story’s facts from its fiction).

Do not read this book if you are triggered by SA. It plays a central role in the story and is mentioned frequently. ( )
  jnoshields | Apr 10, 2024 |
Really, really not getting the rave reviews for this one. Too many characters. Too many little moments that seemed as though they might amount to something that, in the end, just fell apart. Relationships I did not believe were real.. A violent ending the author seemed to justify because the victim was a horrendous person. Not horribly written and I did finish it so I'm giving it three stars, but certainly not a remarkable novel. ( )
  Eliz12 | Apr 2, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
Ariel Lawhon’s expertly researched and immediately gripping The Frozen River transports readers to 1789 Maine, where a midwife must solve a murder to get justice for both a rape survivor and the deceased.... This historical mystery explores the inner lives and societal pressures of women in colonial America with nuance and complexity.... Atmospheric, unique and elegantly written, The Frozen River will satisfy mystery lovers and historical fiction enthusiasts alike.
added by Lemeritus | editBookPage, Elyse Discher (Dec 4, 2023)
 
The narrator of Ariel Lawhon’s THE FROZEN RIVER is another stalwart heroine. Delicate ladies don’t do well in the rough-and-tumble frontier settlements of Maine, as a local midwife, Martha Ballard, knows all too well. Her story begins in 1789 with the discovery of a murder victim in the icebound Kennebec River, but it quickly expands to include a nasty legal case involving the pastor’s young wife and a powerful judge whose machinations threaten both the cohesion of this nascent community and the Ballards’ tenure on the land where they’ve erected a mill.
added by Lemeritus | editNew York Times, Alida Becker (pay site) (Dec 1, 2023)
 
Lawhon (Code Name Hélène) draws from the diary of an 18th-century midwife for the stirring story of one woman’s quest for justice. In 1789 Maine, 54-year-old midwife Martha Ballard is asked to help determine the cause of death for Joshua Burgess, an accused rapist whose body was found frozen in the river.... Lawhon combines modern prose with the immediacy of her source material, making for an accessible and textured narrative. This accomplished historical powerfully speaks to centuries-old inequities that remain in the present day.
added by Lemeritus | editPublisher's Weekly (Aug 30, 2023)
 
When a man accused of rape turns up dead, an Early American town seeks justice amid rumors and controversy. Lawhon’s fifth work of historical fiction is inspired by the true story and diaries of midwife Martha Ballard of Hallowell, Maine, a character she brings to life brilliantly here.... As she did with Nancy Wake in Code Name Hélène (2020), Lawhon creates a stirring portrait of a real-life heroine and, as in all her books, includes an endnote with detailed background. A vivid, exciting page-turner from one of our most interesting authors of historical fiction.
added by Lemeritus | editKirkus Reviews (Aug 12, 2023)
 
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Epigraph
And She knows, because She warns him, and Her instincts never fail,
That the Female of Her Species is more deadly than the Male.

—-RUDYARD KIPLING, “THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES”
Truth will come to light; murder cannot be hid long.

—-WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, The Merchant of Venice
I'll note you in my book of memory. . . .
Look to it well and say you are well warn'd .

—-WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, Henry VI
Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall.

—-WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, Measure for Measure
A sad tale's best for winter.

—-WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, The Winter's Tale
Dedication
My mother taught me that midwives are heroes.
My sister let me witness the miracle.
My husband sat beside me and held my hand.
For these reasons, and ten thousand more,
this novel is dedicated to them.
First words
The body floats downstream.
Quotations
Memory is a wicked thing that warps and twists. But paper and ink receive the truth without emotion, and they read it back without partiality.
Because it's a woman who does the choosing.
History is written by he men who live. Not the ones who die.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Biography & Autobiography. Nonfiction. HTML:PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST â?˘ NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST â?˘ From the bestselling author of Fruit of the Drunken Tree, comes a dazzling, kaleidoscopic memoir reclaiming her family's otherworldly legacy.
A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: TIME, NPR, VULTURE, PEOPLE, BOSTON GLOBE, VANITY FAIR, ESQUIRE, & MORE

â??Rojas Contreras reacquaints herself with her familyâ??s past, weaving their stories with personal narrative, unraveling legacies of violence, machismo and colonialismâ?¦ In the process, she has written a spellbinding and genre-defying ancestral history.â?ťâ??New York Times Book Review 

For Ingrid Rojas Contreras, magic runs in the family. Raised amid the political violence of 1980s and '90s Colombia, in a house bustling with her motherâ??s fortune-telling clients, she was a hard child to surprise. Her maternal grandfather, Nono, was a renowned curandero, a community healer gifted with what the family called â??the secretsâ?ť: the power to talk to the dead, tell the future, treat the sick, and move the clouds. And as the first woman to inherit â??the secrets,â?ť Rojas Contrerasâ?? mother was just as powerful. Mami delighted in her ability to appear in two places at once, and she could cast out even the most persistent spirits with nothing more than a glass of water.
This legacy had always felt like it belonged to her mother and grandfather, until, while living in the U.S. in her twenties, Rojas Contreras suffered a head injury that left her with amnesia. As she regained partial memory, her family was excited to tell her that this had happened before: Decades ago Mami had taken a fall that left her with amnesia, too. And when she recovered, she had gained access to â??the secrets.â?ť
In 2012, spurred by a shared dream among Mami and her sisters, and her own powerful urge to relearn her family history in the aftermath of her memory loss, Rojas Contreras joins her mother on a journey to Colombia to disinter Nonoâ??s remains. With Mami as her unpredictable, stubborn, and often amusing guide, Rojas Contreras traces her lineage back to her Indigenous and Spanish roots, uncovering the violent and rigid colonial narrative that would eventually break her mestizo family into two camps: those who believe â??the secretsâ?ť are a gift, and those who are convinced they are a curse.
Interweaving family stories more enchanting than those in any novel, resurrected Colombian history, and her own deeply personal reckonings with the bounds of reality, Rojas Contreras writes her way through the incomprehensible and into her inheritance. The result is a luminous testament to the power of storytelling as a heali

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