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A coming-of-age novel with a strong heroine, a sweet love story, and the eternal struggle between good and evil
Running from vile rumours and merciless ridicule, thirteen-year-old Nicole Beaumont flees her home in Parsons Valley, Georgia. She leaves Chris behind, the boy who had been her best-friend-for-life, her soul mate, the one with whom she was supposed to spend her life, and she takes refuge at a boarding school in rural Pennsylvania.
In the farming community in which she lived, almost any transgression could be tolerated, excused, or overlooked. Any transgression, save one that smacked of sex, and, according to rumour, that was exactly what she and Chris had done while lying on the bank of Parsons Pond. It was a lie, the worst part at any rate, but Chris̶ ̶ refused to deny the rumour. Never again, Nicole vows, will she trust another person as she had trusted Chris.
Such vows can be difficult to keep, but Nicole perseveres.
Then, she meets Richard. He seems different from the others. He accepts Nicole as she is. He keeps her secrets. When others doubt her, he stands in her defence. Nevertheless, even as they fall in love, the full story of what happened at Parsons Pond remains off-limits to him, and her memories of Chris, which tempt her, tugging her into the past, threaten to betray her,
Chris re-enters her life in a most unexpected way, and Nicole finds herself emmeshed in a deadly game that pits Chris, the boy she once loved, against Richard, the man who loves her, now, a game from which only one will emerge unscathed. Nicole faces an impossible decision. Which will she choose? Who will live?
I have read a few of David Burnett’s books now and I love how diverse he is at writing different genres. House Beside The River was yet another enjoyable book from David.
This book centres around Nicole Beaumont – at thirteen years old her life changed. What started as something innocent with her friend Chris turned into so much more. They were caught skinny dipping in Parsons Pond but Chris’s mother, and whilst they denied that anything untoward had happened Chris took the opportunity to not deny the rumours that they slept together when they were asked at school the following day. Parsons Valley is a rural town in Georgia and when we flashed back to this point in Nicole’s life I struggled with grasping what year it was supposed to be – it came across as being some backwards middle of nowhere town from a time that didn’t fit with the technology that was around.
Moving forward in Nicole’s life she buys a house beside the river which brings past and the emotions that she went through bubbling to the surface and has her reflecting on her life up to this point. We learn that she has vowed never to let another man in her heart and when she is sent away to a catholic boarding school after the events at the pond, she feels that she is an embarrassment to her mother and family so she hardly returns home to see them. That is until she meets Richard from the boys school.
Her past, present and future all play out in this coming of age story from David, and I really enjoyed the tale he wove how her past shaped Nicole.