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Summary

Karl Marlantes's debut novel, Matterhorn, has been hailed as a modern classic of war literature. In his new novel, Deep River, Marlantes turns to another mode of storytelling - the family epic - to craft a stunningly expansive narrative of human suffering, courage, and reinvention. 

In the early 1900s, as the oppression of Russia's imperial rule takes its toll on Finland, the three Koski siblings - Ilmari, Matti, and the politicized young Aino - are forced to flee to the United States. Not far from the majestic Columbia River, the siblings settle among other Finns in a logging community in southern Washington, where the first harvesting of the colossal old-growth forests begets rapid development, and radical labor movements begin to catch fire. The brothers face the excitement and danger of pioneering this frontier wilderness - climbing and felling trees one hundred meters high - while Aino, foremost of the book's many strong, independent women, devotes herself to organizing the industry's first unions. As the Koski siblings strive to rebuild lives and families in an America in flux, they also try to hold fast to the traditions of a home they left behind.

Layered with fascinating historical detail, this is a novel that breathes deeply of the sun-dappled forest and bears witness to the stump-ridden fields the loggers, and the first waves of modernity, leave behind. At its heart, Deep River is an ambitious and timely exploration of the place of the individual, and of the immigrant, in an America still in the process of defining its own identity.

A Publishers Weekly Pick of Top Ten Books of Spring.

©2019 Karl Marlantes (P)2019 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic reviews

"Bronson Pinchot delivers this sprawling, incandescent historical novel. His performance gives the mostly immigrant Finns' lives veracity and dignity.... Pinchot's twin gifts - an extraordinary ear for language and an actor's nuanced delivery - enliven the prose." (AudioFile Magazine)

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Profile Image for Brian Hays
  • Brian Hays
  • 31-07-19

An Epic

Although Marlantes admits some literary license, the research that had to go into this story is staggering. It’s hard to believe that He wasn’t in Finland and Washington state around 1900. This is a masterful job of breathing life and depth into characters. After “Matterhorn”, I was prepared for a let down. No such luck. Thank you Karl.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Susan Delaney
  • 08-08-19

I also have Finnish heritage

My relatives also settled in Southwest Washington but closer to Portland. This book was wonderful for me from beginning to end and it helped me understand so many of the sayings, behaviors, and lifestyle choices of my Grandparents and great aunts and uncle’s.. Besides it was just a wonderful story. And very well written. I hope you enjoy this As much as I did.

6 people found this helpful

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  • "angela_n_emerick"
  • 13-07-20

Irritating narration and lagging story

The narrator's whispery voice made this almost unlistenable. Coupled with the slow moving storyline made it not worth the hours it took to finish.

5 people found this helpful

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  • barry
  • 05-05-20

Could have been great, but just good

Three and three quarter stars for the story would be more accurate, and only that largely because the novel falls well short, imo, of its Stegnerian ambition. An epic family saga and a herculean effort, but...in the end, after all is said and done, it just...dries up like a river that does not make it quite to the sea.

There are many wonderful elements, some good characterization; an interesting American saga about an area and set of immigrants often left out of the conversation; a glimpse into the history of the IWW, with a cameo of its most legendary popularizer, often only known by his Americanized name and place in American folk music; and a glimpse of a European immigrant's infatuation with the nexus of the spectacular landscape and indigenous mysticism of the American West.

All those things, but instead of its basing its structure on that of the Finnish epic, Kalevala, being a post modern stroke of genius, the effect is rather, especially as it cannot come to any real conclusion beyond this happened, and it happened over and over, and then that happened, one of a wandering narrative compelling the question, "yes, yes, so?"

3 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 16-01-20

Excellent! Beautifully Told Story!

My whole family loved this book. My son who is 27 my husband who is in his mid-40s and I as well as our 24-year-old daughter all found this book interesting, entertaining and thought-provoking. You will thoroughly enjoy this book!

3 people found this helpful

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  • AmieD
  • 01-10-19

Exceptional

Wow, this is a great novel. Well developed characters, exciting storylines, and really good narration combine to create one of the best novels I've ever listened to.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Winsome
  • 24-06-20

Expected more grittiness...

Some heart-stopping times, many of them based on historical events, occur in this story; however, they are related in the text and by the narrator in an understated, non-dramatic way. Maybe that's done deliberately in keeping with the Finnish and Swedish heritage of the characters? I was hoping that this epic story would pull more on the heartstrings.

That said, the setting and time period come alive, with wonderful details on the labor unrest of the early twentieth century, the difficulties faced by immigrants, the politics and intolerance of that era, and the logging and fishing industries in the Pacific Northwest. I sometimes wanted to shake the flawed main character, but many of the secondary characters are well-drawn and interesting.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 20-10-20

Sime good, some not so much.

The books starts with some good history of where I was born and live. The history of immigration into the NW logging and fishing areas was interesting. Then it gets into more of a strange communist union relationship that is tiring.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mollyworld
  • 26-09-20

Very engaging story

i loved this book. The heroine of the story was excruciatingly annoying and many times I thought I can't stand listening anymore. But I kept going and I'm glad I did.

1 person found this helpful

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  • MLB
  • 04-09-20

The Angry Bear

A wonderful story of the lives of the 1890-1910 wave of Scandinavian settlers to this country. Some of my ancestors were among them.

1 person found this helpful