The River Within by Karen Powell
A classic tragedy of human folly with guilt, remorse, betrayal and love through it all. Hints of Hamlet spice up the narrative.
This is a tale that has the feel of a classic tragedy. It parallels some of the features of Hamlet and evokes the same feel of a disaster that while anticipated cannot be avoided. This atmosphere of impending catastrophe persists throughout the narrative until the last word.
Three friends and their families are intertwined in painful brambles of love, guilt, remorse, insanity and selfishness. Alexander, scion of an aristocratic family and callow in the extreme, stumbles through life leaving heartache behind him for his mother, his fellows and the girl he sometimes professes to love but to whom he will not formally or emotionally commit. He is a tortured soul who perpetrates torture upon others and himself, if unwittingly. Hamlet does come to mind.
Danny, whose honest heart and loving character have unrelentingly led him to grief is found drowned in the river that dominates his village and the land roundabout. Whether it is accident, suicide or murder is not clear, and there are indications but no certain proof of any of these.
Helena, or Lennie as everyone calls her, is a beautiful and moonstruck child-woman whose earthy nature and love of growing and wild things illuminate her character. She is, because of the innocence and pastoral color of her soul unprepared for the vicissitudes of life. One is reminded of Ophelia.
Told in brief chapters that oscillate between past and present, the account of generations of folly, enmity, jealousy, regret and true love unfolds with increasing tension through the telling of the tale. A bad end is foretold and becomes increasingly certain as things progress. Skillfully written with elegance and cleverly arranged revelation of the facts the whole carries the reader along as with the current of a strong body of water. It is a fine work.