Review by Luyt30
One thing about us Art Historians, we know how to tell a story.
Mallory M O’Connor captivates and transports the reader by using her artistic background to its full extent in the vivid descriptions, historical accuracy and true presentation of art in all its forms. With an immersive writing style, O’Connor helps the reader feel the luscious warmth of the Sacramento valley, the clean serenity of Tokyo and the daggers of cold that San Francisco winters bring. Colorful language is pulling the reader in at every instance. It’s wonderful to read a book by an author who sees beauty in the details and knows how to manifest that in the written word.
In this book we follow the McPhalan, Morales and Ashida families, maneuvering their way through the ‘60s in the United States. We learn the unadulterated truth about the lavish lives of maestro’s, musicians and artworld glitterati- mostly because of the adultery involved. Do not be fooled by the ostentatious setting of the book, however. The zeitgeist is disrupted and altered by the Vietnam war, the United Farm Workers movement, the Civil Rights movements and the Women’s liberation movement. Perhaps O’Conner brings the story alive so effortlessly because she lived through it herself.
The currents in the title is a perfect metaphor for the lives of these individuals, weaving together, flowing towards and away from one another, all the while trying to find the easiest route. In a Catch-22-esque fashion, the absurd complexity of their relationships is taken as convention, with only Alex questioning their conduct.
The ideal reader for this book would be an art connoisseur, as O’Connor seamlessly blends the artists’ and musicians’ lives with the political and social turmoil that filled the US in the 1960s. Anyone with an interest in the arts, especially music, will find this book captivating, as well as those with a keen interest in American history or just a touch of drama. Being a slave to the arts myself I especially enjoyed the honest depiction of the art world and subtle references to well-known artworks.
American River: Currents, part two in the trilogy, is a thoroughly good read and I would score it 3 out of 4. Though I don’t care much for romantic chaos, the fact that the book was filled to the brim with specific and accurate art references, perfectly placed in context, sold it for me. The intricate detail and obvious obsession with the arts could easily charm even the most indifferent of readers by the first sonata.
by Literary Titan
Kate’s family has just survived the devastating loss of her brother, Julian, and she is learning that her father’s coldness toward her beloved brother could have taken a much different turn had fate not intervened. As a new mother, Kate faces many challenges. One of those challenges is finding an effective and appropriate way to handle the affection she receives from Stefan, her husband’s friend and her sister’s true love. While Kate is facing one obstacle after another as a young mother, Tommy is reeling from the loss of his mother and coping with his fiance’s mysterious illness. Not to be left out of the cast of characters meeting life head-on, Marian is learning to love herself again with the help of a much younger and virile man named Nick.
Mallory M. O’Connor’s characters are a force with which to be reckoned in American River: Currents. O’Connor has created one of the most unique blends of historical fiction and the soap operas of the 80s. This lengthy novel features three families, ethnically diverse and intertwined in each other’s lives–in some cases, too much so. The bounce back and forth between chapters gives the entire book the comfortable feel of watching episodes of a well-established soap opera.
O’Connor has, without a doubt, done the research and created amazingly accurate and detailed accounts of historical events. Each of these events is not just described but somehow affects the characters day-to-day lives. From Cesar Chavez to John F. Kennedy, she has succeeded in further bringing life to her characters by having them live through gripping and history-making events.
As O’Connor’s chapters tend to vary from one family to the next, I found that I looked most forward to those focusing on Marian and Nick. To say the two are interesting would be putting it mildly. In an otherwise heavy book, Marian and Nick’s dynamic provides much-appreciated lighthearted moments and a breather from the drama of the other family members. Marian, not without her own faults, is my favorite character. Being one of the older characters in O’Connor’s work, she is struggling to make her way as an artist and is learning to love herself again and finding that trust is something she just might be able to feel once more. Nick is just the remedy for what ails her.
I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming amount of sadness at the relationship between Alex and Stefan. I see Alex as a strong woman who is, when it comes to personal relationships, weak and needy. The manner in which she pursues Stefan is almost pitiful. She is an interesting character indeed.
It seems like such an obvious thing to note, but I love the way O’Connor ends each chapter. Not every author currently producing books brings chapters to a nice, succinct close. O’Connor provides closure and never leaves reader hanging or feeling as if they have hit a brick wall when the new chapter quickly takes a new direction.
American River: Currents is beautifully written and consists primarily of long strings of dialogue between well-developed and easy to visualize characters. A long book but one that is an almost effortless read, American River: Currents is sure to engage readers and lead them to follow the cast of characters into the rest of O’Connor’s books in the series.
Pages: 453 | ASIN: B07BJ3XT2M
Greg Dawson, Author of Busted in Bloomington and Hiding in the Spotlight
Tolstoy begins Anna Karenina: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” And so it is with the star-crossed McPhalan-Morales-Ashida families in American River: Currents, Book 2 of Mallory O’Connor’s splendid trilogy – a meditation in novel form on the agonies and ecstasies of the great American experiment at a crucible moment.
After ending Book 1 in 1963 with a traumatic family death, O’Connor follows her yearning, conflicted characters through the dystopian tumult of the ’60s. As America descends into unimaginable chaos and heartbreak, so do their lives. Book 2 ends with the tragedy at Kent State, searingly portrayed.
O’Connor’s writing is lyrical and bold, suffused with the sensibility of painters and pianists. She is a master of still-life renderings of meadow, mountain and mood, and of sheer action. Describing a character’s tumble down stairs: “Arms pin-wheeling wildly, she tried to grab the banister, but her hands were slick with blood. The landing at the base of the stairs tilted crazily, then rushed up to meet her so fast that there wasn’t time to scream. Stars exploded on the blackness inside her eyelids, and her mouth was flooded with a salty, hot liquid. Was that blood? Such a lot of blood.”
O’Connor is uncanny in channeling the interior voice of the artist at work, witness this scene with Marian, who left her land baron husband in California to be a painter in New York. “…she spread washes of blue and green across the canvas. Now a bit of orange and a little alizarin crimson. A darker green. A bit of violet over here……bring the human form into clearer focus with subtle dark and light accents that will heighten the emotional impact of the work. When a thin ray of morning sunshine finally trickled through the hazy glass and cast a wedge of muted light across the bare wood floor, she was still standing before the easel, lost, and found, in her work.”
Just as the entranced reader, awaiting Book 3.
Greg Dawson, Author of Busted in Bloomington and Hiding in the Spotlight
by Aimee Ann from Red Headed Book Lover
“American River: Currents is book two in the American River Trilogy and wow what a sensational sequel! A short while ago I read and reviewed the first book in the American River Trilogy called American River: Tributaries and my verdict was that it was a moving piece of literature that should not be missed. Upon finishing the first book, I instantly wanted more but I had to wait for the second book to be released and now that it is I am so happy and excited to share the second book with you lovely readers!
The story of American River: Currents is an incredible one that is powerful as well as moving. As I read American River: Currents, I felt like my heart was in my mouth because the book was full of pent-up tension which felt like it would burst at any moment. The only way I can describe it is like an earthquake barrier.”
Full review on Red Headed Book Lover official book review site.