Item description for The Gin Girl by River Jordan...
A sultry Florida adventure complete with drug dealers, a hurricane, a snake woman selling---and occasionally dispensing---venom, this first novel offers plenty of setting and surprises. Set in northern Florida, which anyone familiar with Florida knows is not of Florida, just as Florida is not of the South, we follow a barmaid returning to her island home after hearing her dead father calling in a dream, "It's time to come home, Mary." And for her it is time, after several years of wandering America. But the tranquility of a homecoming and settling down aren't in Mary's cards, even though she does land a job at the bar her childhood sweetheart used to own, for she immediately becomes obsessed with learning the "facts," about this sweetheart's murder. But facts are slippery, especially when people want to hide them. And when people sorely want to hide them, searching can become dangerous....
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River Jordan is a critically acclaimed novelist and playwright. She speaks around the country on the "Passion of Story," and produces and hosts the radio program ClearStory from Nashville, Tennessee, where she makes her home.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Gin Girl?
4 1/2 Stars...An Author to Discover Sep 4, 2006
"Progress was like a pistol. One good shot and it could obliterate the past."
With lines like this, River Jordan not only expresses wisdom through her characters, she sets up motifs and layers to her story. Last year, I had the pleasure of discovering "The Messenger of Magnolia Street"--a masterpiece of theme, mood, and character. With the memories of that novel still fresh, I picked up "The Gin Girl" in hopes of revisiting River Jordan's wonderful prose.
The story starts off slowly, building atmosphere and emotion. But I disagree with the Booklist reviewer who implied that the entire plot moves slowly--no, once the mysteries begin to unfold, the story picks up pace and races through the last fifty pages. Mary Contrary has returned to her hometown after the untimely murder of her good friend. She finds herself dealing with memories of her parents' rough relationship and her own childhood struggles. Now, through events surrounding her friend's death, she must bridge the past and the present to uncover the truth.
The characters are wonderfully quirky and vivid. The narrative is rich and evocative of the Floridian island and backwaters it depicts. River is a good enough author to leave us filling in some of the blanks for ourselves; and although I would've liked to see a bit more resolution on one or two items, I got the feeling a sequel would be fitting for the ongoing story of Mary Contrary.
With hints of Rick Bragg and James Lee Burke, River Jordan takes Southern elements and makes them all her own. She is an author to discover and continue enjoying.
River Sculpts Characters in 3-D Jan 2, 2006
Having spent the better part of a year near the top of my "must read" stack, I finally got around to reading The Gin Girl and, I must say, I'm mightily impressed. Mary is so well-carved and believable--in fact, she is very much like someone I know in grit, self-sufficiency and street wisdom. I say that to iterate how real River has drawn the character. I love the turn at the end, but it leaves me wanting more story. The craft is, in my humble opinion, impeccable. River Jordan writes with great discipline and her well-placed humor is a nod to her well-honed senses. Well, done. I anxiously await the opportunity to read The Messenger of Magnolia Street: A Novel.
Waiting for the sequel! Dec 9, 2005
The Gin Girl is the finest example of true writing ability in a new author that has come down the pike of late! The plot is gripping, the tension constant, and the answer to the mystery is always hiding just out of reach. How this author could have accomplished all of this and......what?..not one word of profanity in the whole book?!? No kidding! What a gifted author!!
Myself and my reading buddies are still awaiting the sequel, Ms. Jordan, you CANNOT leave us hanging any longer, PLEASE! We want to know the "rest" of the story!
A Unique Original Oct 20, 2003
Years after the deaths of her father and best friend, Mary returns from self-imposed exile to the swampy island of her childhood in search of answers, but too broken by painful memories and guilt to even know the questions. River Jordan has craftily weaved a collection of quirky islanders, drifters, and has-beens into Mary's world, forming the wildest support group known to man. From Edna, the one-armed giant ex-con, to Esther, the blind, all-seeing snake milker, they are loyally by her side as she survives racist cops, hurricane winds, dead bodies to bury, burn, and dig up, stolen police files, dirty G-men, even a marriage proposal. As she searches for the truth and the dull, alcoholic haze lifts, the warped humanity of her group of friends helps heal her heart (as well as her snakebite).
Ms. Jordan's vivid descriptions and clever, witty dialogue have created a thoroughly enjoyable intriguing read that will keep you up through the night, laughing and crying with Mary. It's a unique original--nothing out there like it!