Foreword Reviews

Where the Silver River Ends

In Anna Quon’s novel Where the Silver River Ends, travels abroad lead to incredible self-discoveries.

Joan, Canadian and of Chinese heritage, works as an English teacher in Budapest. Her friend Edna’s dying wish is that she deliver a letter to her estranged husband. When the letter leads to tragedy, Joan flees to Bratislava. There, she meets Milan, who’s Roma and working in his family’s hotel. Then another of Joan’s friends, Adriana, shows up. The three form a bond that helps Joan to deal with her losses and face the future.

Joan herself is a complex heroine who faces complicated decisions. Her conversations with others, and her internal monologues, reflect how she struggles with her choices. But while the story follows her as she connects with others in the midst of her personal upheavals, its real conflicts are nuanced ones of loss and alienation. Living between two cultures, Joan is unable to exist fully in either; but as a world traveler, she comes to feel connected to fellow outsiders, all of whom are developed in interesting, realistic ways.

Descriptive flourishes arise in the prose, which is otherwise straightforward. Some of these do double duty, describing settings as well as capturing people’s states of mind. Still, Bratislava itself is an under described location, and Joan seems to under explore it; she visits its cafés and markets, but avoids tourist sites. It becomes tangential to, rather than pivotal to, her personal discoveries.

Where the Silver River Ends is a rich, engaging novel about the difficulties of being an outsider. In it, a distressed woman finds that people who love and accept her should be treasured.

Reviewed by Katerie Prior

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the publisher for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Load Next Review