LAND OF THE BEAUTIFUL RIVER by Helmer Linderholm

LAND OF THE BEAUTIFUL RIVER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Land of the Beautiful River is unnerving in that it was composed by a Swede living in Sweden but is about settlements in the New World during Peter Stuyvesant's time, and mainly concerns life among the Susquehanna Indians. Also, the narrator is a calumet- smoking 72-year-old divine, now recalling his New World adventures from the privacy of his Swedish parsonage. His memoir is pure Indian-summer--blood red but muted, and recollected in a tranquillity that often hangs heavy on the page. Arriving in New Sweden, young Anders Ram is immediately smacked to the deck by Governor Johan Printz, whose ""giant body was three times the size of normal men"". Printz is mad and chews scenery with three times the gusto of Orson Welles, but he takes in Anders as his private secretary. But soon Anders is off looking for the Land of the Beautiful River--a fabled Shangri-La under the Big Sky--and finds the village of the Susquehanna. All turns thick and rich as Anders takes up Indian life, watches scalping and cannibalism, and gathers himself a childbride, Juniata, after she gives herself to him in verses from Solomon's Songs of Songs. A strange marriage, it weathers the defeat of the Susquehanna by the Iroquois and eventual transplanting to Sweden. This long novel splits with scalps of the many researched books packed into it, and has a bloody beauty at times--while much could stand Christian burial.

Publisher: St Martin's