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Synopsis

From the author of the Giller Prize-winning novel Mercy Among the Children comes the utterly beguiling, big-hearted story of one woman's resolute struggle to overcome small-town prejudice and deceit. Spanning generations, River of the Brokenhearted explores the life and legacy of Janie McCleary, a brave Irish Catholic girl who dared to marry a man from the Church of England. Their union is quickly deemed scandalous, and when her husband dies just before the Great Depression, everyone in town, led by the unscrupulous Joey Elias, turns against her. Janie is left alone to raise a family. Her solution is to open one of the first movie theaters in North America, which she runs with such success that she manages to ostracize herself even further. She is a pioneer before the age of feminism, and the burden of her salty individualism will shape the lives of her children and grandchildren. Written with compassion and mastery, River of the Brokenhearted muses on the tyranny of memory and history, and peers into the hearts of extraordinary characters, where Richards finds an alchemy of venality and goodwill, deceit and brotherliness, and marked cruelty and true love. Once again, David Adams Richards has brought us a work of astonishing grace, rooted in his special territory on the great river of New Brunswick, but firmly universal in scope.

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