Monthly Archives: May 2008

The River, By Moonlight

The+River+By+MoonlightThe River, By Moonlight
Author: Camille Marchetta
Publisher: Publishing, Inc. 

Reviewed by:  Cheryl Malandrinos 


There are times as a reviewer that I feel inadequate. That no matter how eloquently I string together words, they fail to convey all that I found within the pages of a book. Such is the case with The River, By Moonlight by Camille Marchetta.

On a rainy, gloomy night in April 1917, young artist Lily Canning falls to her death, drowning in New York City’s Hudson River. The vagrant who jumped in to try and save her tells police he doesn’t think it was an accident. As Lily’s family and friends try to come to terms with her death, they question why she would consider suicide at a time when her life was finally coming together. Having lived through the loss of her beloved father and a short, but horrific marriage, Lily’s first art show was coming up soon. It seems incomprehensible that she would choose to end it all now. But could she have done it? And what would this sudden loss mean to those who were left behind to go on living without her?

The River, By Moonlight is one of the finest pieces of literary work I have read in years. Told from the perspectives of family, friends, and the men who loved her–and there are many of those–the complex person who was Lily Canning unfolds like a blooming rose, starting off small, until it fully opens to reveal all its hidden treasures.

This story invokes strong emotions from the reader: the sense of loss felt by those left behind, the angst felt by the men who loved Lily–feelings she did not return, except once (and that ended terribly for both Lily and the man), the anger and confusion from those who suspected what Lily might have done, the constant torment Lily always dealt with until she was finally at peace, and the uncertainty of a country on the brink of entering World War I.

In an ingenious move, the last chapter is told from Lily’s perspective. Up to this point, the reader has only experienced Lily’s life secondhand. Now, they get to hear Lily’s story and understand the decisions she made and the mistakes she had come to live with.

What will make this story a winner with readers is the thorough development of the characters. Henrietta (Etta), Lily’s heartbroken mother, Edmund, the despised husband, Louis, the cousin secretly in love with Lily, Nuala, the servant girl and friend, and many others who allow the reader to experience the full gamut of emotions as Lily’s tale unfolds.

The River, By Moonlight is a powerful, gripping story. Exquisitely written, filled with diverse, well developed characters, and brimming with rich descriptions, Lily’s story is one that you will never forget.

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

35 Miles From Shore

35 Miles From Shore
Author: Emilio Corsetti III
Publisher: Odyssey Publishing, LLC
Reviewed by: Gary Mack

In a straight forward investigative style, Emilio Corsetti  III delivers a substantive and thorough examination of the “error-chain” that caused the ditching of ALM Flight 980 on May 2, 1970. Like so many other calamities that end tragically, Corsetti poignantly details how the mentality of corporate profits over the safety and well being of passengers sets off a horrific chain of events.


From the beginning chapters, Corsetti puts us in the minds and board rooms of those responsible for making the decisions that put ALM Flight 980 in Harms way. Though Corsetti is careful not to point out who the true villain is in his gripping tale, his early treatment of ONA CEO and President G. F.Steedman Hinckley clearly delivers a nod.


Hinckley’s driven ambition to create a route from New York to St. Maarten minus a third fuel tank for the sake of maintaining face, casts Hinckley into the dark shadows of aviation history.   


Corsetti delivers vivid scenes chapter after chapter. He takes you into the cockpit, into the rafts that carry the surviving passengers, onto the helicopters that dropped the slings and rescue seats as they hovered above the swells of the ocean. Corsetti’s riveting paragraphs are at their best when he immerses the reader into the ditching of the plane and the heroic rescue efforts of the crew and the Coast Guard.


Like Harry Evans, I must admit I suffered a little “cognitive narrowing” from the dizzying amount of characters Corsetti introduces paragraph after paragraph.  By the middle of the book, one is so overwhelmed with the constant bouncing from one character to another; it’s hard to concentrate on the task at hand. Corsetti would have been better served if he would have told the story from the perspective of a handful of people – like Balsey Dewitt, who palpably is the most interesting and courageous character in the human drama. Just like fiction, non-fiction must move along and keep the readers attention. I wanted more of Balsey, his life, his emotions, his thoughts and feelings as he humbly did his duty as a professional pilot. In the end, it was his efforts that allowed people the chance to survive.


Still, one cannot come away from this account unimpressed with Corsetti’s talent and his attention for detail. Because of his pen, the ditching and rescue of ALM Flight 980 comes to life, and heroes we never were aware of emerge.  



Filed under Non-Fiction

Emotionless Souls

Emotionless Souls
Author: David S. Grant
Publisher: Brown Paper Publishing
Reviewed by: Elaine Raterman





Emotionless Souls by David S. Grant is a wonderful collection of 20 vaguely surreal short stories, written in succinct, tight prose that perfectly sets the mood for each and every one.  The collection starts with the account of two couples spending New Year’s Eve in Dublin and ends with the account of one couple vacationing in Paris.  Between these two we encounter (among others) a poker game gone wrong, an office prankster who goes to extremes, a one-hit-wonder, a white-collar pickpocket, and an accountant who isn’t quite as boring as she first appears.  Unexpected plot twists abound and make each of the stories truly remarkable.

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Filed under Literary Fiction