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Where the River Ends

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A powerfully emotional and beautifully written story of heartbreaking loss and undying love He was a fishing guide and struggling artist from a south George trailer park. She was the beautiful only child of South Carolina’s most powerful senator. Yet once Doss Michaels and Abigail Grace Coleman met by accident, they each felt they’d found their true soul mate. Ten year A powerfully emotional and beautifully written story of heartbreaking loss and undying love He was a fishing guide and struggling artist from a south George trailer park. She was the beautiful only child of South Carolina’s most powerful senator. Yet once Doss Michaels and Abigail Grace Coleman met by accident, they each felt they’d found their true soul mate. Ten years into their marriage, when Abbie faces a life-threatening illness, Doss battles it with her every step of the way. And when she makes a list of ten things she hopes to accomplish before she loses the fight for good, Doss is there, too, supporting her and making everything possible. Together they steal away in the middle of the night to embark upon a 130-mile trip down the St. Mary’s River—a voyage Doss promised Abbie in the early days of their courtship. Where the River Ends chronicles their love-filled, tragedy-tinged journey and a bond that transcends all.


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A powerfully emotional and beautifully written story of heartbreaking loss and undying love He was a fishing guide and struggling artist from a south George trailer park. She was the beautiful only child of South Carolina’s most powerful senator. Yet once Doss Michaels and Abigail Grace Coleman met by accident, they each felt they’d found their true soul mate. Ten year A powerfully emotional and beautifully written story of heartbreaking loss and undying love He was a fishing guide and struggling artist from a south George trailer park. She was the beautiful only child of South Carolina’s most powerful senator. Yet once Doss Michaels and Abigail Grace Coleman met by accident, they each felt they’d found their true soul mate. Ten years into their marriage, when Abbie faces a life-threatening illness, Doss battles it with her every step of the way. And when she makes a list of ten things she hopes to accomplish before she loses the fight for good, Doss is there, too, supporting her and making everything possible. Together they steal away in the middle of the night to embark upon a 130-mile trip down the St. Mary’s River—a voyage Doss promised Abbie in the early days of their courtship. Where the River Ends chronicles their love-filled, tragedy-tinged journey and a bond that transcends all.

30 review for Where the River Ends

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    I have read a number of touching and beautiful love stories, but "Where The River Ends" is in a class all of its own. A friend of mine had recommended I try one of Charles Martin's books after finding out how much I love Nicholas Sparks. His style was similar but also distinct. I found myself marking page after page of quotes I didn't want to forget - but in reality, I'd quote the entire book here because the whole thing was so deeply moving. I found myself wiping tears away long after I turned I have read a number of touching and beautiful love stories, but "Where The River Ends" is in a class all of its own. A friend of mine had recommended I try one of Charles Martin's books after finding out how much I love Nicholas Sparks. His style was similar but also distinct. I found myself marking page after page of quotes I didn't want to forget - but in reality, I'd quote the entire book here because the whole thing was so deeply moving. I found myself wiping tears away long after I turned the last page - this one will stay with me for a while. The premise of the book is of a couple, deeply devoted to each other who face a battle with cancer. And together they're tested to walk out their vows down to the very last promise. Abbie, a Senator's daughter made herself a life as a famous model and her husband of 14 years Doss is an artist. Once Abbie is diagnosed with cancer she makes a list of ten things she would like to accomplish by the end of her life, but this list in no way overshadows their deep love or commitment to face future obstacles as one. There is one quote from the book that I have to include here where Abbie is talking to Doss about his paintings: "If you want to make great art, something that can reach beyond time and space, find someone who isn't [beautiful] and show them that they are. Paint the broken, the unlovely...and make them believe." You can find many stories of individuals who have had to face cancer and disease alone, but this story stands out to me because it shows how to married people choose to fight this disease as one and the toll it takes on each of them. Every element that makes a good story can be found within these pages; love, sorrow, fear, courage, weakness, strength, adventure, suspense and serenity. If I was asked today by anyone what book I would say is a must read, I would say this one. It has made me grateful for every precious moment I have to love and be loved by an amazing man. Charles Martin made a lasting impression with me and places himself at the top of my favorite authors. I'm also excited to say that this Wednesday, he will be at Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Green Hills doing a book signing! ------------------------------- See more reviews at www.ismellbooks.blogspot.com

  2. 5 out of 5

    Autumn

    I just. Couldn't. Do it. I tried to read this book, but I couldn't. From the very cover, with its silly “Warning: This book will break your heart.” I doubted this book. The prose was overly conversational, with phrases like, “See that. That’s what I love about her.” I don’t like this kind of writing. I don’t want someone ACTUALLY telling me a story, I want someone storytelling. The difference, for me, is simple. In one, I am consciously aware of the teller, and in the other the words disappear a I just. Couldn't. Do it. I tried to read this book, but I couldn't. From the very cover, with its silly “Warning: This book will break your heart.” I doubted this book. The prose was overly conversational, with phrases like, “See that. That’s what I love about her.” I don’t like this kind of writing. I don’t want someone ACTUALLY telling me a story, I want someone storytelling. The difference, for me, is simple. In one, I am consciously aware of the teller, and in the other the words disappear and it’s like I’m watching a movie just behind my eyes. It’s magic. Also, the idea of the poor, slowly dying wife and her attentive, loving husband is very sweet, but unless the story picks up soon it’s also very boring, because I’m not old, married, or dying of cancer (thank the Fates). I have no “in” to this story. So, maybe its fantastic for someone else—but I put it down 50 pages in. I read about 2 books a week, but that doesn't mean I'll read something that bores me.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Fromke

    When I finished the last page of this book, I closed my eyes and felt . . . complete. It’s not that he tied every tiny item up too perfectly, it’s just that my experience of the story was everything I needed as a reader. There is a wholeness at the end of the story. When you read about all the brokenness throughout, you feel it, and you’re filled with the longing and hope and struggles of the characters. So when Mr. Martin ends the story, he somehow managed to achieve wholeness in the midst of t When I finished the last page of this book, I closed my eyes and felt . . . complete. It’s not that he tied every tiny item up too perfectly, it’s just that my experience of the story was everything I needed as a reader. There is a wholeness at the end of the story. When you read about all the brokenness throughout, you feel it, and you’re filled with the longing and hope and struggles of the characters. So when Mr. Martin ends the story, he somehow managed to achieve wholeness in the midst of the broken. Does that make sense? How does he do it? Martin’s writing leaves me breathless at times, and stunned at others. This story traces the last days of a woman’s life and paints the portrait of a man who loved his wife with everything he had. Martin writes about men who act like real men should. They take responsibility for their actions, admit their flaws, and love sacrificially, while hitting rock bottom at times and making colossal mistakes at others. He writes male characters rooted in difficulty, who find hope in unlikely places. I want to read stories about people mucking through the difficulties of life, who stick to their guns, stake their lives on what they think is important, and win or lose, come through the experience holding on to something true. We see throughout this story, the love of a man for a woman. But what’s beautiful about the whole thing, is how she loves him back. I promise this does not give away the story. While you might disagree on the surface, there is nothing boring about a married couple who loves each other, especially in Where the River Ends. Who says we need abject depravity for something to be interesting? Challenging? Beautiful? Seems like all the good movies/stories deal with relationships before the marriage and leading up to the wedding. But any good love story continues long after the wedding day. Why can’t we have more stories about “staying married?” Isn’t that what people dream of when they say “I Do” anyway? Read Charles Martin. You won’t be disappointed.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andre

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Where the River Ends by Charles Martin This review contains some minor spoilers that all become evident early in the novel. There are some short passages and details presented, but I do not recommend reading the novel. If you plan to read it, this review is not for you. Where the River Ends by Charles Martin is annoyingly frustrating. The novel has so much potential. First, it is an actual novel with a beginning, middle, and end. It has a story to tell and a point to convey while telling it. T Where the River Ends by Charles Martin This review contains some minor spoilers that all become evident early in the novel. There are some short passages and details presented, but I do not recommend reading the novel. If you plan to read it, this review is not for you. Where the River Ends by Charles Martin is annoyingly frustrating. The novel has so much potential. First, it is an actual novel with a beginning, middle, and end. It has a story to tell and a point to convey while telling it. There are characters who develop and grow and evolve throughout the 371 pages. There are moments of joy and tenderness and tragedy and fear. Where the River Ends is complete and whole and finished. It is a beautifully constructed story. I have never read any of Martin's other works, but it is evident he is skilled at building scenery and background. I'd never heard of the St. Marys River before reading the novel, but I feel like I know it now. If I was to ride a canoe down the river tomorrow, I am fairly certain I would be able to point out certain landmarks and features. Martin's writing put me there. He knows what he's doing. Except for the plot. Since legalities were very much in my mind throughout my reading of the novel, let me begin my criticisms by saying, These are the facts, and they are indisputable: * Abbie's father is the most powerful politician in South Carolina. He was a two-term governor who has since become a four-term Senator. The Senator hates Doss. Hates Doss. He refused to allow Abbie and Doss to marry; because of his influence, she had to blackmail a judge into marrying them. * After Abbie and Doss were married, the Senator did not speak a word to him for two full years. In fact, Doss was not even allowed to attend family functions. * The Senator has arranged for home hospice care for Abbie and wants her to spend her final days at home with her family, meaning him and her step-mother. * The central portion of the plot centers around a trip undertaken by Doss Michaels and his dying wife, Abbie. The trip, along the entire length of the St. Marys River via canoe, is a recreation of Doss and Abbie's honeymoon and a fulfillment of a promise Doss made to Abbie sometime after her cancer diagnosis. The trip is Abbie's idea; Doss does not think she can make it, but she insists on making the journey, "all the way from Moniac." * Traversing the entire St. Marys is grueling and dangerous. The first few miles are very thin and shallow. There is very little paddling; most of the time is spent pushing, pulling, and carrying the canoe. * The trip begins just after the Doss and Abbie receive the news that she is out of medical options and that, at best, she has a few weeks left to live. * Given Abbie's state of health, she requires a great deal of medication, mostly comprised of controlled narcotics for pain. The only ways to obtain enough of the medication to last the duration of trip down the river are a doctor writing a prescription for an illegal amount or for Doss to steal them. * Before leaving for Moniac, Abbie writes a letter to her father. By the time he receives it, they are well on their way. Let's look at these facts in conjunction with each other. Abbie is adamant that Doss take her on this trip along the St. Marys. My interpretation of the exchange between the two of them is that she guilts him into making the trip. She is a dying end-stage cancer patient. Abbie is so close to death that on the fifth page of Chapter One, Doss referring to her father, Senator Coleman, tells his wife, "He's sending over a team of people in the morning to…'collect you.'" Her life is at its end, but before she expires, she wants to make this trip, a reenactment of their honeymoon. That's fine, except for the fact that Senator Coleman wants her home. The Senator is the most powerful man in South Carolina, which means that Doss and Abbie can't just leave. They have to sneak out of town so as not to be noticed, not to be seen, not to be found. Neither Abbie nor Doss expect her to survive the two-week journey down the river. Her doctor said she had, "A week. Maybe two." In other words, they both know that the end of the journey would find Doss Michaels a widower of a woman who'd been missing for a couple of weeks. Oh, I left out one indisputable fact. There are exactly five characters in the novel we know are not White. First, we meet the man responsible for Doss and Abbie meeting. As Doss walked through a park on his way home one night, he came across a man attacking a woman. The text describing the man states, "He looked like the guy in The Green Mile, only meaner." A little later, we learn the man is six feet and ten inches tall. The valiant Doss jumps on the man and gets himself beaten up in order to defend the defenseless woman. Of course she had to fall in love with him. Next, we are introduced to Mr. Jake, the one-eyed man who taught "Miss Abbie" how to dance when she was a little girl. Except as an attempt to show that the rich and powerful of Charleston are not the racists outsiders think them to be, I can think of no reason for Mr. Jake or Doss' meeting him to be included in the story. Then we get to Rosalia. Rosalia seems to have been a cook, maid, and nanny for the Colemans when Abbie was a little girl. According to Abbie, "She would comb my hair and tell me I was pretty long before I knew the meaning of the word." She, too was scarred. "Rosalia fled her country when I was just a baby," Abbie tells us. "But not before a man with a machete got a hold of her." Thanks to that man with the machete, Rosalia has no left breast. Rosalia's purpose is for Abbie to help Doss realize that beauty can be found anywhere, even where it seems to be nonexistent. Here's the exchange (it made me sick): "Look through here and show her what she's always wanted to see." She slid her hand into mine. "Show her that she's beautiful beyond measure." I stared at the horror staring back at me. "How?" Her breath was warm on my ear. "Search what you see and find the one thing that makes you want to look again." Doss did as he was told, and his portrait made Abbie cry and give him their first kiss. How lovely. The final two non-White individuals are two men who shared a jail cell with Doss. Ellswood Maxwell Lamont Augustus III, a crystal meth addict, and a drug dealer with a voice like James Earl Jones. Fine, upstanding individuals these two were. Abbie is very much what my wife would call a Mary Sue. She's not just the Senator's daughter; she is also a celebrity in her own right. As Doss' college friend James AKA Mr. Exposition #1 put it, Abbie was, "…the spokeswoman for one of the major cosmetics lines in the country—who also happens to have been voted by the New York Times as one of the hundred most beautiful faces in the United States—whose face, by the way, made the cover of three of the most highly read prime-time magazines in the country…" And she became the most sought after interior designer in the American South. Abbie's perfect. Absolutely perfect. She doesn't do anything for herself; it's all for everyone else, especially Doss. She even made him into a great artist. After their wedding, she planned and paid for a year-long trip around the world so she could show him and teach him about all the great artists in the world. In Doss' words: I remember leaving the hall where David stands. Walking out, we walked by all the friezes he created. Nothing but huge chunks of granite with these forms of half-people climbing out of the rocks. It's like they're breaking free. Escaping. And when I walk back down that hallway in my mind, I realize that Abbie had done that for me. She led me to her river, and I drank deeply. We returned home and I discovered that Abbie had given me a gift I had not anticipated. I stood before my easel and found that I saw beauty in the not-so-beautiful, even in the grotesque. What she had birthed with Rosalia, she had now shaped and matured. And how about this exchange while the young couple shopped for wedding rings: "Doss, I don't need a diamond." "Abbie, every girl deserves a diamond." "Well, then, I'll just keep this one until that day comes. And when it does, I'll wear them both." How sweet. Doss, on the other hand, is poor. Dirt poor. Grew up in a trailer park with his single mom and her alcoholic abusive boyfriend poor. Had no relatives to care for him after his mother died, so he just hung around the trailer park until he earned an art scholarship to college poor. He had no friends in high places, only one powerful enemy. In a case of his word against anyone's, John Doe was a clear favorite. We already know that Abbie is dying, but it becomes clear very early on that either Doss must die, too, or he must go to jail. Otherwise the novel would lose all claims of realism. She was famous. Her father was rich, famous, and powerful. Abbie's disappearance would be a national news story, and her father would be out for blood. Right off the bat we have kidnapping and either manslaughter or murder. Add Abbie's medication, which Doss acquired by convincing her doctor to give him the combination to the controlled substances safe and then breaking into the office where the narcotics were kept, and you can include grand larceny, breaking and entering, and possession of a controlled substance in the list of crimes to be charged against Doss. The St. Marys River establishes much of the border between Georgia and Florida—since Abbie and Doss lived in Charleston, South Carolina, he crossed state lines to commit every single one of those crimes. Both Abbie and Doss know this, yet she insists it is a journey they must make. They know it won't end well. They know they are setting Doss up to take the fall for some serious charges. Before they ever get in the water, Doss goes to buy some supplies from a former boss, and says, "It'd be better—for me—if you'd wait a week or so to run my card." They knew. And I get that is supposed to show their love and commitment to each other. But what loving woman would willingly and knowingly send her husband to jail unnecessarily just to satisfy a dying wish? I'd hate to be married to that woman. Did I mention that the trip begins as Hurricane Annie is making her way toward the southeastern coast of the United States? That does not deter Abbie and Doss. Once they've started, they cannot turn back. Not when her disappearance becomes the top story in the nation. Not when Senator Coleman holds a press conference in front of his house begging Doss to bring Abigail Grace back home. Not when a crew of bandits rob the Michaels of their supplies. Not when that same crew catches up to them later and tries to gang rape Abbie (they were rescued by a defrocked priest turned crop duster who happened to be flying by). . Oh no, they cannot quit, even on Abbie's death-canoe. Annie's remnants flood the river and all of the surrounding areas, and the closer they get to the Atlantic Ocean, the more violent and unpredictable the current becomes. Five miles from the end of the St. Marys River, the current flips the canoe over, leaving Abbie and Doss washed ashore with no transportation. Abbie says to Doss, "Have you ever broken a promise to me?...Then don't start now." Doss, ever the obedient husband, finds a drifting log, hauls his dying wife on top, grabs a hold himself, and off they go again. It could be very inspiring. But it's too ridiculous to be taken seriously. A warning on the book's cover says, "This book will break your heart." I don't see how. This book stirred zero emotional response within me except for the anger at how stupid and racist and classist the author seems to be. This story is not real enough, not human enough, to elicit emotional responses from people who have been through the gauntlet themselves. In fact, reading this novel prompted me to log onto Twitter and mockingly ask, "Has there ever been a work of fiction that handled cancer even remotely realistically?" Martin threw just about every cancer cliché I know into this one. After losing her breasts to her cancer, Abbie tries to convince Doss to get a girlfriend. The night before driving to Moniac to begin the trek down the river, Abbie gives Doss a list of women he should consider marrying after she dies. Doss is the only man to accompany his wife to the chemotherapy sessions. Other husbands start off going, but eventually they all leave their wives. All except Doss. Of course this leads to a screaming fight with Abbie screaming at Doss to not divorce her. It's not real. Yes, some men leave, but most do not. Even if they aren't great, most stay. Going overboard to emphasize a point only renders that point ineffective. At one point, Heather, a woman whose husband is in treatment for cancer, throws herself at Doss. Dying for any type of physical affection, she tricks Doss into a drunken night on the town and tried to entice him into her room by undressing down to her thong while walking down the hall as Doss watches from the elevator. Doss, ever the faithful husband, the only cancer husband to not leave his wife, ignores Heather. Yet, he forgets to lock his door, which leads to him stepping out of the shower to find a naked Heather lying in the bed at the exact moment Senator Coleman barges into the room. And of course Heather confessed her betrayal—and Doss' fidelity—to Abbie. "We had a good cry over it," says Abbie. "She said you were everything she'd ever wanted in a husband." Everything, indeed. How exactly was this story supposed to make people emote? Furthermore, Martin's prose is very self-righteous. His disdain for certain groups of people comes across effortlessly, and is written in such a way that makes it hard to believe these feelings are held only by the character, Doss, and not shared by the author. In addition to a long riff about people who follow the church of NASCAR, there was his description of the three men who attacked them: Limpy, Troll and Coal Miner. Or his describing young men smoking on the riverbank as "wannabe rappers." Martin comes off to me as very anti-blue collar. Sure Doss Michaels was poor, but he was a brilliant artist. In this way, Doss is presented as a poor aristocrat, but an aristocrat nonetheless. Where the River Ends is supposed to be a story of undying love, but the plot does not demonstrate that. The central plot, itself, is not a demonstration of love. You cannot read this novel and come away believing the wonderful Abbie loved her husband—not if you understand the concept of love. The entire plot is an exposition on Abbie's selfishness. Sure, she played the, "you should get a girlfriend," card and helped him to find the self-confidence and motivation he needed to succeed as an artist, but she put Doss into the position of committing felony crimes to fulfill her dying wish. We are told that the trip down the St. Marys was a gift from her to him, that it was her way of giving Doss' heart back to him; but she gave him no way out of the trouble the trip caused. Her dying wish created a situation where he needed a miracle to avoid life in prison at best and the death penalty at worst. That's what her dying wish did. That is the situation created by her final act of love toward him, her final "anniversary present" for him. Martin loses it completely with the ending. Remember what I said about knowing very early in the novel that Doss would end up either dead or in jail or else Where the River Ends would lost all claims on realism? Well…it wouldn't be right for the first 95% of the novel to be completely wrong and then for it to end well, right? Exactly. By riding the log, Abbie and Doss did manage to make it to the end of the St. Marys. On the shore there is where she died. A day later, Doss is arraigned. The judge AKA Mr. Exposition #2 tells us that Doss is charged with all of the following: kidnapping, breaking and entering, trespassing, larceny, grand larceny, possession of a controlled substance, resisting arrest, assault, battery of an officer, illegal administration of a drug, and first degree murder. As most of the crimes took place on the river separating Georgia and Florida, jurisdiction was an issue. At Senator Coleman's request, Florida, a capital punishment state, was chosen. A few days later, however, the Senator received and read Abbie's letter, and his entire viewpoint on Doss has changed. "You gave Abbie what I never did. You gave her yourself," he says. All was forgiven; everything was changed. All charges dropped except for the narcotics offenses. Probation and community service. Just like that. What about the Senator finding the naked woman in Doss' room while Abbie was in treatment, you ask? The defrocked priest, to whom Doss had confessed, somehow visits the Senator and tells him everything that had happened. Senator Coleman and Doss become buddies and live happily ever after. Cancer has been in my life for a long time, and it will continue to be in my life. It is a seemingly inescapable truth. My mother died from cancer. My wife is a cancer survivor. My mother-in-law is fighting cancer. I have spent the better part of my adult life helping to make cancer drugs. One has to work pretty hard to create a story about a woman slowly dying of cancer that does not make me emote. With Where the River Ends, Charles Martin was that one.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bon Tom

    The beauty and sadness of simply being human, oh how I love thee. And boy, how much do I hate you too..

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jerry

    Where the River Ends' cover warns you, "This book will break your heart." It did, in a way...but not the way Charles Martin or his editors/publishers intended. I've read Mr. Martin's writings before, and, in my opinion, they were well-written, emotionally charged dramas about people overcoming tragic circumstances. However, all those were published by Thomas Nelson, a Christian publisher; Where the River Ends was not, and its content makes me wonder whether Mr. Martin is truly a Christian, or ju Where the River Ends' cover warns you, "This book will break your heart." It did, in a way...but not the way Charles Martin or his editors/publishers intended. I've read Mr. Martin's writings before, and, in my opinion, they were well-written, emotionally charged dramas about people overcoming tragic circumstances. However, all those were published by Thomas Nelson, a Christian publisher; Where the River Ends was not, and its content makes me wonder whether Mr. Martin is truly a Christian, or just writing "inspirational" fiction to make a quick buck. The first half of the novel involves descriptions of a nude painting as "art," illegal obtaining of prescription medication, discussion about one woman being "good in bed" and another one who "looks like a goddess naked" thanks to plastic surgery, at least one profanity, and possibly other inappropriate content that I'm not thinking of at the moment. After that, I couldn't read any more of it; it seems that Mr. Martin has compromised his faith in the writing of this secular work. I've seen this kind of thing before; contemporary Christian musician Susan Ashton "crossed over" to the world of secular music with an album that had an immodest cover photo and zero mention of the Almighty within the lyrics. I thought authors were above that kind of thing; guess I was wrong.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Kline

    Great love story! Also a look at what it's like living (at times just existing) while struggling through chemo, radiation, and a host of other things that come along with a diagnosis of cancer. A bit of an eye opener since it's not something, thankfully, that I know much about. It was encouraging to see that, in the end, "cancer only steals what you give it." "There are worse things than dying . . . like . . . living dead." The main characters chose hope and lived life as fully as they could wit Great love story! Also a look at what it's like living (at times just existing) while struggling through chemo, radiation, and a host of other things that come along with a diagnosis of cancer. A bit of an eye opener since it's not something, thankfully, that I know much about. It was encouraging to see that, in the end, "cancer only steals what you give it." "There are worse things than dying . . . like . . . living dead." The main characters chose hope and lived life as fully as they could with the time that was left for them to share on earth. Christians should definitely do the same because we have a sure hope in Jesus Christ!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Judy D Collins

    Great author and storyteller - I have read all his books and one of my favorite authors! "Charles makes the characters come alive! Awesome! " Great author and storyteller - I have read all his books and one of my favorite authors! "Charles makes the characters come alive! Awesome! "

  9. 4 out of 5

    Crystal

    This was one of the first Charles Martin books I ever read over 10 years ago. I remember it being good but sad which is why it has taken me so long to pick it back up. But like any Charles Martin book, he has such an amazing way with words and can weave hope into pretty much any situation, without taking away from the heart of the tough issues. Definitely have the Kleenex handy for this one...

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Charles Martin writes stories about broken men, searching for redemption and healing and the people who love them. In his sixth novel, "Where the River Ends," we meet Doss Michael, an artist who outpunted his coverage when he met, courted and married the daughter of a powerful South Carolina senator, Abby Coleman. The story is told in alternating chapters, examing their courtship, marriage and life together and their final journey together down the St. Mary's River. Ten years into the marriage, Charles Martin writes stories about broken men, searching for redemption and healing and the people who love them. In his sixth novel, "Where the River Ends," we meet Doss Michael, an artist who outpunted his coverage when he met, courted and married the daughter of a powerful South Carolina senator, Abby Coleman. The story is told in alternating chapters, examing their courtship, marriage and life together and their final journey together down the St. Mary's River. Ten years into the marriage, Abby finds she has a devestating form of cancer, one that is eating her up inside. She's made a list of ten things she wants to experience before she dies and Doss sets out to make them those dreams a reality. The list isn't a gradoise list, but a list of achievable goals such as skinny dipping or the trip down the river that had such an influence on her husband growing up. However, the trip isn't what her father wants. After four years of estrangement and refusal to deal with Abby's choice of Doss as a husband, the senator want Abby in hospice to extend her life. Doss and Abby disagree and set out on the journey. The alternating story from the Doss's early life to the current trip works to propel the plot forward and keep the reader interested, all the while keeping the story from becoming too bleak or overwhelming depressing. Martin does a remarkable job of setting the story to follow the expected path, but also throwing in some unexpected curves along the way. At one point, art student Doss needs someone to model nude in order to finish up his degree program. Upon meeting Abby and saving her from an assault, one could assume the direction this story could head. Instead, Martin toys with that assumption and gives the reader a richer story because of it. And even though we have an idea where this story can and must end (Abby's death), her passing along isn't the central point of this story. It's about the story of Doss, his journey and the shared life he had with Abby. While the ending will create a lump in your threat, Martin wisely allows a few glimmers of hope and healing in the final chapters to keep the ending from being overwhelmingly grim.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Darlene

    This beautiful story, written by Charles Martin is about love, commitment, sacrifice and what it really means to be totally responsible for another human being. Doss Michaels (a painter who gives new meaning to the term 'starving artist') meets Abigail Grace Coleman, the daughter of a senator from South Carolina when he literally saves her life when she is attacked and nearly raped. Their love story is just about perfect.... until the day Abbie is diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast can This beautiful story, written by Charles Martin is about love, commitment, sacrifice and what it really means to be totally responsible for another human being. Doss Michaels (a painter who gives new meaning to the term 'starving artist') meets Abigail Grace Coleman, the daughter of a senator from South Carolina when he literally saves her life when she is attacked and nearly raped. Their love story is just about perfect.... until the day Abbie is diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. This is when the story stops being a kind of fairy tale and becomes the stuff of real life. Realizing that their time together is short, Abbie creates a list of the things she wants to do. The thing she ultimately chooses is to embark on a journey... a 130 mile journey which is real and symbolic..in a canoe on the St. Mary's River. Their trip is arduous and full of obstacles... unpredictable weather, a worsening in Abbie's physical condition and even a group of men who rob them of most of their possessions... but still they persevere and they push on. Doss promised Abbie that they would get to the end of the river.. the point at which they can watch it empty into the ocean. Despite all of the obstacles Doss never gave up. He kept that promise to his wife. I felt this story, although somewhat predictable in places , was a wonderfully written metaphor for life's journey. We all face obstacles on our journey and the trip is never smooth but if we're very lucky, we find someone special to share that journey with... someone who is as committed to it as we are. Yes, this story is somewhat cliched but Mr. Martin's characters are so true-to-life that I couldn't help but become emotionally invested in what happened to them. I couldn't help but cheer them on to the end of the river. Realistically, although Doss' and Abbie's story couldn't have ended any other way than it did, I still found myself hoping for just one more day for them to be together. Any story which can reach out and pull me in in such a way that I really care about what happens tot he characters is a great one.. cliched.. or not!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. *Spoilers* Where the River Ends. This book was in the "recommended" section at the library. I wanted to put this book down several times, because I felt like it was moving so slowly (and simply). By reading the description, it's easy for a reader to understand where the book is going - that is not the book's appeal, though. Charles Martin, the author, tells a story about Doss and Abbie. Abbie is dying of cancer and has 10 or so wishes before her death, many of them as simple as "swimming with dol *Spoilers* Where the River Ends. This book was in the "recommended" section at the library. I wanted to put this book down several times, because I felt like it was moving so slowly (and simply). By reading the description, it's easy for a reader to understand where the book is going - that is not the book's appeal, though. Charles Martin, the author, tells a story about Doss and Abbie. Abbie is dying of cancer and has 10 or so wishes before her death, many of them as simple as "swimming with dolphins". The most challenging wish, though, requires her husband to take her down the river in canoe (which requires him removing her from hospice first). In this trip, she hopes to teach him and instill confidence in his art and inner self. They have a sweet, flirtatious romantic relationship. It is the cookie cutter pre-death, magical story. Martin alternates between the past, when Doss and Abbie first met, to the current time, as they are paddling down the river. The past scenes, including when Abbie is first diagnosed with cancer, are touching and fun. I really felt a connection to what the author was saying even though I haven't experienced cancer in my own life. The current passages, however, were laden with extraneous detail. So much so, that I found myself wanting to skip full pages. Scenic detail is tough. I appreciate when it's done in a way that enhances the story - John Steinbeck is great at this - but not when the details seem unrelated. I felt like this book was very slow, at times, and not in an enriching way. I also felt like some of the love scenes were forced. They didn't seem genuine to me. In the last few chapters, however, when Abbie is dying, the writing touched me. I felt like the characters' story mattered, and I was glad I had finished the book. I struggled between a two or three star rating for this one, just because of how many times I wanted to put it down.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Gily

    Well. More of the same see the mountains between us, meaning emotional, love death and the journey

  14. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Bryan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book had some 3 star moments but really lost its mind the last fifty pages or so. A love story, Doss and Abbie are married 10 years when she is diagnosed with breast cancer. After a grueling, awful 4 years of treatment there is only hospice left. That is when they embark on a river canoeing trip to try to complete Abbie’s bucket list. It is insane. I get dying on your own terms but spending your last days lying in the bottom of a canoe while your husband basically pulls it and paddles all da This book had some 3 star moments but really lost its mind the last fifty pages or so. A love story, Doss and Abbie are married 10 years when she is diagnosed with breast cancer. After a grueling, awful 4 years of treatment there is only hospice left. That is when they embark on a river canoeing trip to try to complete Abbie’s bucket list. It is insane. I get dying on your own terms but spending your last days lying in the bottom of a canoe while your husband basically pulls it and paddles all day every day does not seem like an enriching experience. And miraculously many of the things on her list magically appear along their route. A man who has a plane to fly her in. Wow. Terrible, terrible things happen a la Deliverance and Abbie’s physical abilities vary drastically day to day. I found it wildly unrealistic. He has to carry her everywhere but she stood in the river to fish for four hours and danced to a dozen songs one evening, just a no go for me. Depicted as a last gift from Abbie to Doss this trip is guaranteed to send him to jail, he has to steal narcotics to pack for the trip and administer them along the way. And we know she is going to die so throw in a charge of murder of the euthanasia variety. So what a lovely gift. Also, so many descriptions of the river, it’s water flow, the banks, the contents, boring! And her father, don’t even want to think about his behavior. Do not recommend.

  15. 4 out of 5

    S

    "Do I wonder why God is silent? Can I explain the existence of suffering and evil? Do I sometimes despair at this world? You damn right.... Nevertheless, I believe." Normally, a book that takes me quite this long to finish can surely expect a low rating. This book is an exception to my rule, my norm. The 'breathers' I took while reading this book, in retrospect, were necessary. Had I rushed to see the ending, I doubt I'd be able to appreciate it as much as I appreciate it now. My zero knowl "Do I wonder why God is silent? Can I explain the existence of suffering and evil? Do I sometimes despair at this world? You damn right.... Nevertheless, I believe." Normally, a book that takes me quite this long to finish can surely expect a low rating. This book is an exception to my rule, my norm. The 'breathers' I took while reading this book, in retrospect, were necessary. Had I rushed to see the ending, I doubt I'd be able to appreciate it as much as I appreciate it now. My zero knowledge about rivers is the major reason why it took me so long to finish Where the River Ends . Sometime before reaching the middle part, I vowed I would only give a 3-star rating (at most) to this. As embarrassing as it already is, I am taking that vow back and admit I was wrong. To judge a book based on a subject you can't relate to is unjust both to the author and the masterpiece. The in-between-current-read books I've read have [apparently] worked in my favor. This is my second read from Charles Martin and yes, I like him more after this. Martin writes from the heart. Anything that's written from the heart will surely find the way to its readers' hearts. Before this, my understanding (not knowledge) of The Cancer is also limited. Right before finishing, I could say I was able to gain an understanding which may not be as intense as someone who has the first-hand knowledge/experience of the disease but nevertheless an insight. Where the River Ends was able to paint the harsh realities of cancer in vivid details: the relationship strains, the hope, the despair, the hurt (lots of it and in all aspects), the strengthening -weakening-losing of faith, and the love that is patient; the love that heals, liberates, accepts, and forgives. Highly recommended!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ruth Ann

    This story develops between unlikely lovers -- a "starving artist" and the daughter of a US Senator. Married 15 years and she's dying of cancer and has a bucket list, which the two try to complete before her demise. It would have been helpful to have a map of the river trip (I'm a visual learner). In some respects, their river journey seemed so unlikely -- possessions burned by raiders in a bond fire, meeting a defrocked Priest along the way, her ability to rally just as they were meeting impos This story develops between unlikely lovers -- a "starving artist" and the daughter of a US Senator. Married 15 years and she's dying of cancer and has a bucket list, which the two try to complete before her demise. It would have been helpful to have a map of the river trip (I'm a visual learner). In some respects, their river journey seemed so unlikely -- possessions burned by raiders in a bond fire, meeting a defrocked Priest along the way, her ability to rally just as they were meeting impossible obstacles. The book does pull you in, however, and in the end I have to give it four stars.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Carole

    The love story was so touching. True love. The details of the River at times, had me skimming for more of the relationship between Doss & Abbie. I will definitely read more from this author!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    I love this authors style. There are of course, parts I didn’t care for...but the overall story is still a great one!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Carol Arnold

    Another great Charles Martin book! A young artist. Dpss. marries a designer & model in Charleston, SC. Her dad just happens to be ex-governor and current senator. He in no way approves of the marriage and refuses to accept this no-name, no-family, non-Charlestonian outcast for his daughter. Amid the conflict, Doss' wife, Abbie gets cancer. At her request, he takes his dying wife on a trip down the river at the beginning of hurricane season. His description of the river trip left me a little conf Another great Charles Martin book! A young artist. Dpss. marries a designer & model in Charleston, SC. Her dad just happens to be ex-governor and current senator. He in no way approves of the marriage and refuses to accept this no-name, no-family, non-Charlestonian outcast for his daughter. Amid the conflict, Doss' wife, Abbie gets cancer. At her request, he takes his dying wife on a trip down the river at the beginning of hurricane season. His description of the river trip left me a little confused. I just couldn't picture it in my mind. But the over-all story was excellent as usual. Left me in tears!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sammy J

    This book touches the heart like no other. It is heart wrenching at some points but also deeply satisfying. You see so much pain in the novel but also great love. You see a marriage that takes the vow of sickness and health to new levels. This book challenged me to look past hurt and see healing even when that healing does not come on this earth. The main characters, Abbie and Doss show readers what it means to love amidst trials and to fight for life amidst death. It is a hard read for one’s he This book touches the heart like no other. It is heart wrenching at some points but also deeply satisfying. You see so much pain in the novel but also great love. You see a marriage that takes the vow of sickness and health to new levels. This book challenged me to look past hurt and see healing even when that healing does not come on this earth. The main characters, Abbie and Doss show readers what it means to love amidst trials and to fight for life amidst death. It is a hard read for one’s heart but it is worth it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    This book was great but so sad! I wanted to read their story and see where it took them and how they ended up. Well written.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Brad Theado

    Good book. Read to my wife.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Carol Sandford

    What a beautiful book. I travelled along every inch of not only Abbie's last trip down the river, but her futile battle and her devoted husbands pain at watching and waiting for his wife to die, as well as doing his absolute utmost to fulfill her last request. This book will stay with me. What a beautiful book. I travelled along every inch of not only Abbie's last trip down the river, but her futile battle and her devoted husbands pain at watching and waiting for his wife to die, as well as doing his absolute utmost to fulfill her last request. This book will stay with me.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Rucker

    Coastal Georgia river setting. Artist. Charleston history. A storyline that goes from present to past and back again at each chapter. I loved these characters,Abby and Doss, and their beautiful love story. As always, Charles Martin makes me love and adore my husband even more. What a gifted author.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dario Ferko

    Cried a River of tears

  26. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    I don’t always review books but when I do... I didn’t even finish it. He didn’t hold my attention at all and nobody proofread the thing. About every chapter there was a typo error. Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood to appreciate it but I was not a fan.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Elena

    A love story of grit, courage, devotion, and saying goodbye. Doss grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in a small town in Georgia. Waiting tables at a restaurant in Charleston as a college kid, he meets and soon falls head over heels for Abigail, an affluent Southern belle who happens to also be the daughter of a stern senator. They get married and their careers soon soar — he a prominent artist and she a model — until a crippling diagnosis leaves their future bleak. As treatments fail and ho A love story of grit, courage, devotion, and saying goodbye. Doss grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in a small town in Georgia. Waiting tables at a restaurant in Charleston as a college kid, he meets and soon falls head over heels for Abigail, an affluent Southern belle who happens to also be the daughter of a stern senator. They get married and their careers soon soar — he a prominent artist and she a model — until a crippling diagnosis leaves their future bleak. As treatments fail and hope for healing seems improbable, she convinces him to grant her a seemingly impossible wish: to canoe across the St. Mary’s River, a sprawling 130 miles from Georgia to North Carolina. This nostalgic journey, that brings fond memories of many years together, winds up being more strenuous and dangerous than either of them could have imagined. Charles Martin is a masterful author who expertly dives into the human condition, complex emotions, and realistic relationships that bring depth, wisdom, and pure beauty to his writing. Even though his stories typically have some kind of suffering or hardship woven within the plot, his writing is just such a unique and enjoyable experience for me. The plot moves between the current excursion and then flashbacks, but the flow is effortless and easy to follow. I also love that I don’t have to worry about questionable or sensuous scenes in Martin’s books, which is a relief. He’s become an author I can trust, so I’m thrilled that he has many novels I have yet to read. My favorite so far is When Crickets Cry, but this is a close second.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Janet C-B

    Thought-provoking. Review to follow.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    I am a fan of Charles Martin. Great writing. But I read this after I read "The Mountain Between Us" and there were just TOO many similarities! Damsel in distress. Hurting. Man saves the day. Pulling her along. I almost didn't finish it. I did, but just kind of meh. I am a fan of Charles Martin. Great writing. But I read this after I read "The Mountain Between Us" and there were just TOO many similarities! Damsel in distress. Hurting. Man saves the day. Pulling her along. I almost didn't finish it. I did, but just kind of meh.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    My mom handed this book and said "Read this it's good." Meh I thought. Then I looked at the frount cover "Warning this book will break your heart." Then I thought nope I am not reading this. Well because the other book I am reading currently is not a pull you in type a book I though ok I will give it a shot. I enjoyed it and read it quickly. The writing was not the most poetic or thought provoking. Yet in a simple way it was. This story was told from a man's point of view which was interesting us My mom handed this book and said "Read this it's good." Meh I thought. Then I looked at the frount cover "Warning this book will break your heart." Then I thought nope I am not reading this. Well because the other book I am reading currently is not a pull you in type a book I though ok I will give it a shot. I enjoyed it and read it quickly. The writing was not the most poetic or thought provoking. Yet in a simple way it was. This story was told from a man's point of view which was interesting ususally love stories are told from the female's point of view or third person. Basically this is a story about a man, his wife who has cancer and their journey. Here is what I enjoyed about this book....this book reminded me to stop and really look at people. I think we rush through our days and weeks and we neglect to stop and look at people. Notice their stories notice what makes them beautiful and what would make you want to look at them again. I also have been contemplating self worth and what we as individuals base our self worth on. Cooking, cleaning, service, others views of us, how kind we are, our career, parenting, etc. When you strip all of those away who are we really and what makes us valuable (yes this is a primary answer basically). So I have been taught this my whole life but do I really know this to be true. I watched Abbie in this book be stripped of everything yet she still stayed true to who she was and she loved with a passion. Doss, her husband loved her despite the fact that she was stripped of everything we base that "self worth" off of. This was a raw to the core kind of book. It was not overly romantic, it was real. Oh and there were some parts that just make me snicker. This was a good life story, inspiring. It did not break my heart or make me cry. However when I thought the story was over it was not. This other ending was perhaps the sweetest. I learned a lot about love from this book. There are people who love with such reckless abandon and they bless all those who are lucky enought to know them. I am grateful for people like that on this earth. They teach us how to really live and not just exist.

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