ISBN 10: 1469227533 / ISBN 13: 9781469227535
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Inhaltsangabe: In the mid-19th century, Leonie Russell works alongside her husband, Junius, an oysterman in the Washington Territory. At night she continues her father’s lifelong obsession — collecting artifacts and studying the native culture that once thrived in the area. On her thirty-seventh birthday, Leonie discovers a mummy protruding from a riverbank — a mummy that by all evidence shouldn’t exist. As Leonie searches for clues to the mummy’s origins, she begins to feel a strangely mystical connection to it. When Junius’s long-lost son, Daniel, appears one day, a native elder insists that Leonie wear a special shell bracelet for protection. But protection from whom? The mummy or, perhaps, Daniel? Leonie has always been a good daughter, a good wife, but for the first time, these roles do not seem enough. Finding the mummy has changed everything, and now Leonie must decide if she has the courage to reject the expectations of others to be the woman she was meant to be.

Review: A Q&A with Megan Chance

Megan Chance is the critically acclaimed, award-winning author of several novels. Her latest, Bone River, was selected by Amazon's editors as a Best Book of the Month in Literature & Fiction.

Question: What inspired you to write Bone River?

Megan Chance: My family goes to the Oregon Coast every summer. We travel past Bone River, just south of South Bend, Washington--it's isolated, unsettled, and beautiful. I'd always thought Bone River would be a great book title, and one day a first line came to me, and I knew it would be about a woman who found a body buried in the riverbank. During my research, I discovered that the land I'd been musing about had been one of the earliest homestead claims in western Washington. When I found out the site had been an Indian burial ground, and the natives believed the area was haunted, my story was born.

Q: Your narrator, Leonie, and her husband, Junius, are ethnologists who study native culture. This includes collecting skeletons. Did that really happen?

MC: Absolutely. The publication of Darwin's Origin of Species in 1859 raised new questions of human origin, and America became the center of those questions because of the native peoples still living here. The prevailing scientific theory back then was unilineal evolution: the idea that all cultures progressed along the same path without deviation, from savagery to civilization. So theoretically you could understand primitive cultures (i.e., the Indians) by studying them before they were corrupted by the influence of "advanced" cultures (i.e., whites). It was also believed that the American Indians were living fossils destined for extinction--a holdover from an earlier, inferior state of human evolution that could help scientists understand the past.

Q: Who inspired the characters of Leonie and Junius?

MC: Junius was inspired by his real-life counterpart, James Swan, who originally settled the claim at Bone River. Swan was a fascinating guy. He left his wife and children in Boston to follow the California rush and never returned. He was an amateur ethnologist who collected for the Smithsonian, and he spent years exploring other Pacific Coast tribes before settling in Port Townsend. He left behind some 60 diaries chronicling his experiences.

Q: Modern-day readers may be surprised by Leonie's casual acceptance of Junius's bigamy. Why did you make that choice?

MC: Divorce was a difficult, expensive rarity in the 19th century. It would have been impossible for Junius to get a divorce from Mary, given the circumstances. She had cause--desertion--but even that wouldn't have made divorce a certainty; and she waited for him, so clearly she wasn't interested in ending things. It was much more common for men to simply walk away, particularly in the West, where there was no onus of societal condemnation. Leonie never assumed that Junius would divorce Mary, only that he would tell Mary not to wait for him because he was with someone else. Leonie would never have thought of Junius's bigamy as a problem--it simply had no application in her day-to-day life.

Q: What do you hope readers take away from Bone River?

MC: There are a few themes that run through all my work: truth isn't absolute; the subjugation of the human soul is a dangerous thing; and we are not always who we think we are. Sometimes we must find the courage to reject the expectations of others in order to be who we're meant to be. As Daniel says in the book, "We have to live our own lives. Others haven't the right to dictate it for us."

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