Along the Endless River: A compelling and heartbreaking historical novel

Written by Rose Alexander
Review by Sally Zigmond

London 1890. Katherine and Anselmo are a newly married couple. Having learned of Brazil’s burgeoning rubber trade, Anselmo is convinced they are guaranteed to make their fortunes if they buy a plantation in the Amazon basin. What Katherine does not know is that her father, not a rich man, gave them his life savings to finance the project. So, they set sail to a world and a lifestyle totally different from what Katherine has ever known, both teeming with life, enchanting and also extremely dangerous. Deeply in love and with a baby on the way, she is full of optimism. Then tragedy strikes. Anselmo is drowned on an expedition upriver. Sense tells Katherine she must return to England, but when she discovers her parents are relying on her repaying her massive debts, she has to fight on through disaster after disaster. Having seen the cruelty of European plantation owners, she is determined to treat the indigenous people who work for her with good food, kindness and love.

Along the Endless River is a gripping historical novel full of vivid characters and a terrific sense of atmosphere. The descriptions of flora and fauna in the tropical rainforest are so vivid. The passages set in Brazil give a clear understanding of the rubber trade and speed in which Amazonian tribal culture was overwhelmed and destroyed. The scenes set in London are less gripping, maybe because it is familiar to most readers of historical fiction. Although these scenes are somewhat melodramatic, overall the pages kept turning. A great read.