Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Review: An Empty House by the River by Robert Hays

 Genre: Literary Fiction


“Life has been good in the old Prather house on the bluff overlooking Singleton’s Branch. Then the second ‘once in a hundred years’ flood in a decade brings changes that will affect the Prather family for years to come. Lacy, who sees beauty wherever she looks and expects others to be as good as she is, can no longer count on her big brother to protect her from an abusive husband, and the family learns a hard truth: No one is immune to the quirks of fate, be they blessings or tragedies, and the river takes more than it gives.”


“Robert Hays is the author of six previous novels and a book of short stories and has written, edited, or collaborated on a half–dozen works of non–fiction. His short stories have appeared in anthologies and he has published numerous academic journal and popular periodical articles. Selections from three of his novels have gained Pushcart Prize nominations. He is a U.S. Army veteran and, though retired from classroom teaching, holds professor emeritus rank on the faculty of the University of Illinois. He lives in the beautiful southern Illinois wooded hill country about which he often writes.”


I found this story interesting and engaging for a couple different reasons. It tells the story of a family over several decades, with more than a few times of crisis and conflict that keep the reader engaged as the family members deal with these issues. (If everything went perfect, it would have been boring, right?) However, along with the obvious story I found myself thinking about a few other things that the story seems to be setting up. One is family and how a family’s relationships evolve and change over time. Of course, I found myself thinking about my own family relationships and comparing them to the Prather family. The other thing I found myself pondering was the house that the book is named after and how it made the family members feel they had roots in that community. Any book that gets me thinking, comparing my life to those of the characters, understanding the similarities or helping me to better grasp the reasons people are different is a book I can appreciate and enjoy.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words

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