With her latest novel, There Is a River, Charlotte Miller concludes her popular trilogy depicting the long-suffering Sanders family of Eason County, Alabama. As in her earlier books, Behold, This Dreamer and Through a Glass Darkly which became regional bestsellers in some parts of the South the latest entry shows Janson and Elise Sanders' daily struggles to earn a living and keep their family together, while dreaming of a better life for themselves and their children. There Is a River is set in the era when the deep South was coming out of the Depression, a time when sharecroppers could put down the burden of trying to earn a living from the land by going to work in factories. As factory workers, they could earn more money in a year than they'd ever seen in their lives, but the trade-offs, financially and emotionally, were enormous.
When World War II begins, Janson and many of the menfolk are drafted, leaving wives and children to help the war effort by providing the mills with cheap labor. As in the earlier novels in the series, the greedy mill-owning Eason family exploits its employees, finding unscrupulous ways to make even more money. As Janson and Elise find their way back to one another after the war, they are determined to buy back the farm they lost during the Depression. Not only do they have to deal with the usual bad luck associated with farming droughts, falling market prices, hard times they have the added disadvantage of enmity with the controlling Eason family. The Alabama landscape serves as an effective backdrop in this multi-generational saga, a touchstone all members of the Sanders family must return to again and again. Miller succeeds at creating memorable, larger than life characters facing extraordinary odds, and as in many Victorian novels manages to give deserving characters their comeuppance as the trilogy ends.
An accountant in Opelika, Alabama, who tours extensively to promote her books, Miller should continue to win fans with her latest effort, which is steeped in enough historical detail to provide an appealing glimpse of the ever-changing South.