Deep River
Karl Marlantes’s debut novel Matterhorn, a New York Times Notable Book and winner of the Center for Fiction’s Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, 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 that is no less rich and honest in its depiction of human suffering, courage, and reinvention.Born into a farm family in late nineteenth-century Finland, the three Koski siblings—Ilmari, Matti, and Aino—are brought up on the virtue of maintaining their sisu in the face of increasing hardship, especially after their nationalist father is arrested by imperial Russian authorities, never to be seen again. Lured by the prospects of the Homestead Act, Ilmari and Matti set sail for America, and the politicized young Aino, haunted by the specter of betrayal after her Marxist cell is disastrously exposed, follows soon after. Not far from the majestic Columbia River and in the shadow of Douglas firs a hundred meters high, the brothers have established themselves among a logging community in southern Washington, and it is here, in the New World, that each sibling comes into their own—Ilmari as the family’s spiritual rock; Matti as a fearless logger and the embodiment of the entrepreneurial spirit; and Aino as a fiercely independent woman and union activist who, time and again, sacrifices for the political beliefs that have sustained her through it all.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 extraordinarily ambitious exploration of the place of the individual, and of the immigrant, in an America still in the process of defining its own identity.

Deep River Details

TitleDeep River
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 2nd, 2019
PublisherAtlantic Monthly Press
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction

Deep River Review

  • laurel [suspected bibliophile]
    January 1, 1970
    DNF at 34%The trials and tribulations of the Koski siblings as they flee from Russian-occupied Finland to logging country in Washington state in the early 20th century.To be fair, I am not the target demographic for this book, and it was made abundantly clear to me the more I read it.This is the kind of book that boomer-aged white guys love—that thick, historical fiction tome that is both interesting and something you can show off. Think James Michener or Ken Follett (although I actually kinda l DNF at 34%The trials and tribulations of the Koski siblings as they flee from Russian-occupied Finland to logging country in Washington state in the early 20th century.To be fair, I am not the target demographic for this book, and it was made abundantly clear to me the more I read it.This is the kind of book that boomer-aged white guys love—that thick, historical fiction tome that is both interesting and something you can show off. Think James Michener or Ken Follett (although I actually kinda like Follett's historical fiction), where men are men and women are...well, they are empowered and strong and totally have agency because men can write women too.My first clue should have been the blurb, where Aino was touted as one of the book's many "strong, independent women." Remember that Twitter hashtag where people parodied stereotypical male writers writing women?This author never read that hashtag and totally thought he could. These women don't quite breast boobily, but they come close.Straightening her shoulders, pushing her breasts out, and with the confidence of a queen, she reentered the dance.Never have I ever been as preoccupied with my boobs and my ribs as Aino is.She was taller than Aino, but younger, not yet fully developed. She was not beautiful but not ugly, pleasant looking. There was no fat on her, nor was there any on the other girls, but she wasn’t thin. She looked strong, in a girl way.Not only is this poor writing, but it's really condescending. "Strong in a girl way?" Wtf.Plus, there's a lovely "she was curvy in all the right places" description, and I'm not quite sure if he was describing a woman, a bed post or a sine wave because what does "curvy in all the right places" even mean??Somehow, I don't think this is itAnywho, I really did enjoy the descriptions of logging—this aspect was precisely why I picked this book up—and that it takes place in southwest Washington, close to the Oregon border. While the descriptions of the Columbia River tended to wax a little too poetic, I had serious nostalgia for home. I also was fascinated by the history of the early labor movement and the various politics of Finland, Russia and the United States.But ultimately my enjoyment of the general plot and the setting wasn't enough to pull me into the storyline. Poorly written female characters (there are probably male authors and male readers who will probably contest me—a woman—stating this) sucked my enjoyment from the storyline, along with two out-of-the-blue n-words (seriously white authors, I don't care how "historically accurate" you wish to be, this is not our word to use).Honestly, I'm pissed that I didn't enjoy this more and even more pissed that I spent 3 days slogging through it when I have other books to read. (view spoiler)[I might pick up the audiobook. Maybe (hide spoiler)]Reasons to read: if you're a white cis male boomer who enjoys long, family-oriented historical tomes that could probably stand to be heavily edited.Reasons to avoid: if you're literally anyone else. (view spoiler)[edit: obviously this is a joke—you can read and enjoy whatever the hell you want) (hide spoiler)]I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.Hey, I have a blog! The Suspected Bibliophile
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  • Jessica Sullivan
    January 1, 1970
    I'm not the biggest fan of historical fiction, so I wasn't expecting to enjoy this 700+ page tome as much as I did. Turns out it was an incredibly fascinating and rewarding read. This family epic follows the three Koski siblings (Ilmari, Mattie and Aino) as they make their way from Finland to America's pacific northwest in the early 1900s and begin working in the dangerous, grueling logging industry. Aino is the central focal point of the narrative: a feminist heroine radicalized by her associat I'm not the biggest fan of historical fiction, so I wasn't expecting to enjoy this 700+ page tome as much as I did. Turns out it was an incredibly fascinating and rewarding read. This family epic follows the three Koski siblings (Ilmari, Mattie and Aino) as they make their way from Finland to America's pacific northwest in the early 1900s and begin working in the dangerous, grueling logging industry. Aino is the central focal point of the narrative: a feminist heroine radicalized by her association with revolutionary left-wing political groups back in Finland, she sees an opportunity to organize the logging industry's first unions.Over the course of four decades, the Koski siblings struggle to build a life for themselves in early 20th century America--from fighting for a living wage and worker safety to establishing themselves as leaders and business owners.Increasingly torn between her dedication to political organizing and commitment to her family, Aino comes to realize that she can find purpose, meaning and solidarity in both.I learned so much from this book about the early labor movement, an incredible and essential part of American history. In our current era of late capitalism where movements like Democratic Socialism are gaining more and more ground, it was empowering to read about the initial formation of unions, and I found myself continuously cheering on Aino's impassioned arguments against capitalism. If you like immersing yourself in big, epic books, definitely don't miss this.
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  • Jypsy
    January 1, 1970
    Deep River is the story of the Koski family. One by one, members of the family flee Finland. They do this for political activism, avoiding army conscription, etc. They go to southern Washington state where there is a Finnish community. The Kolski family joins the logging business because it's the prevailing occupation at the time in this region. As the story unfolds, the terrible living conditions are described. Worse, however, are the dangers associated with logging. I learned so much from read Deep River is the story of the Koski family. One by one, members of the family flee Finland. They do this for political activism, avoiding army conscription, etc. They go to southern Washington state where there is a Finnish community. The Kolski family joins the logging business because it's the prevailing occupation at the time in this region. As the story unfolds, the terrible living conditions are described. Worse, however, are the dangers associated with logging. I learned so much from reading this. The workers could do very little to warrant safer conditions. It's well written and researched. They faced a terrible struggle toward demanding changes in their work environment. The Kolski family are embroiled in all of these situations. The characters are strong brave and resilient. Displaying these attributes and surviving the harsh conditions makes them admirable as well. The story is a great read about a part of history many know little about. I recommend for anyone with an interest in historical fiction. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Karen Kay
    January 1, 1970
    I received this from Netgalley.com for a review. 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. Good Beginning but overall the book could have been several pages shorter. I lost interest in the minutia, and there was a lot of minutia.2☆
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  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    January 1, 1970
    via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/'Anger at the senseless cruelty of it all kept her awake at night.'Escaping Russian rule, siblings Ilmari, Matti, and Aino immigrate to America joining other Finns in the hopes that they will find the perfect place to thrive. Ilmari is the first to leave Finland, to avoid being drafted in the Russian army he flees his homeland. In America, Ilmari is a devout man who builds a farm of his own and a blacksmith shop before his brother Matti follows. via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/'Anger at the senseless cruelty of it all kept her awake at night.'Escaping Russian rule, siblings Ilmari, Matti, and Aino immigrate to America joining other Finns in the hopes that they will find the perfect place to thrive. Ilmari is the first to leave Finland, to avoid being drafted in the Russian army he flees his homeland. In America, Ilmari is a devout man who builds a farm of his own and a blacksmith shop before his brother Matti follows. Helping his brother for a time with the running of things, he must make a life for himself. By Christmas finding work with the sole options being fishing or logging, he choses logging. Felling trees, a job that can crush a man, easy. With no idea how, he swears to himself he will one day have his own company! Last is Aino, seventeen- years old and desperate for work. Already having suffered for her revolutionary beliefs back in Finland, the fire burns just as bright now in America. She isn’t happy to settle as some man’s wife and men want a woman to care for their families not a maid. Marriage is still against everything she believes in, and if she ever marries, she has to feel love, hers is a heart that cannot in good conscience settle. There are more important things to her future, and her socialist desires. Life isn’t easier in America, everything is not golden nor as ‘free’ as she imagined. Instead, they meet with backbreaking, deadly work logging in the forrest of Washington, where workers are nothing better than slaves making money for others (capitalism). A staunch socialist, Aino is well read, and desperate to fight for laborers rights often at the risk of her very life. Conflicted by the expectations of women of the times (have a family, settle down) she’d rather take part in activism, even when love comes calling. Is it better to settle down, safer? She is fed up being a live in servant, did enough of that before, and marriage is much the same too. She works for a time cooking for hundreds of men at a logging camp, Reder Logging. It comes to be the hardest work she has ever known. The reality is often disheartening, even later when she is a wife living in cheap lopsided quarters, it isn’t enough to please her. She must occupy herself with a life full of purpose, helping others. Escaping the unrest of their own country only to land in a place where one must continue to fight for human dignity, America isn’t turning out to be the dream Aino envisioned. Women should know their place, and certainly not be slipping off for meetings threatened by raids! A man who works his fingers to the bone relies on his good wife waiting with a meal, the home clean and comfortable. She’s a feminist, a fighter, a woman who won’t be caged but I admit, she could come off as self-righteous and selfish at times too. Could motherhood settle her?The men face loggers being killed, the equipment fails, people make mistakes that costs lives and no one is looking out for their safety. It matters to Aino. It is for ‘the common good’ and if she is called a communist, so be it, they must still fight! The powers that be don’t want strikes and of course will threaten those who dare strike with brute force. Naturally she finds herself jailed. The Koski siblings will rage against “slave wages, slave hours, and slave working conditions” and find their future as pioneers logging the vast forest of Washington. They will all search for their identity as they push for early labor rights or material success. From logging camps to fishing for salmon, strikes, Spanish flu, co-ops, the first cars, and captialism. Love and affairs, jail, unrest, starting families, and businesses in the new American dream. There is a lot happening in this novel that because of the historical scope it covers, the stories can sometimes leave the reader meandering. It is a rich, well researched historical fiction about the early days for Finish immigrants in the forrest and mills of Washington. More importantly it is a grim look at the fight for labors rights.Publication Date: July 2, 2019Grove Atlantic
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  • Bonnye Reed
    January 1, 1970
    Deep River is a marathon of a historical novel, one you cannot bear to put aside. We follow the children of Maijaliisa and Tapio Koski from Kokkola, Finland as they immigrated to the communities of the Columbia River basin (known then as the Deep River) between Washington and Oregon, USA, and became an important element in the timber industry and the Colombia River basin, as the family spread out and grew. The Koski family were hard working, a credit to their community, a settlement comprised fo Deep River is a marathon of a historical novel, one you cannot bear to put aside. We follow the children of Maijaliisa and Tapio Koski from Kokkola, Finland as they immigrated to the communities of the Columbia River basin (known then as the Deep River) between Washington and Oregon, USA, and became an important element in the timber industry and the Colombia River basin, as the family spread out and grew. The Koski family were hard working, a credit to their community, a settlement comprised for the most part of Finnish and Swedish immigrants. Ilmari, the first of the children to come over in 1897, welcomed his younger siblings as tension and persecution in Russian-ruled Finland increased and the young men of the community faced being drafted into the Russian army, young women a life of servitude and fear. Life in the northwest USA was not easy or simple at the turn of the 20th century. It was a new day for the Toski children, however, as they grew to fit in and appreciate their new home. We follow their progress from the death of three of the siblings in Finland from cholera in 1891 through March of 1969. This is a saga you will not want to miss. Based on the stories of his Finnish grandmother, Karl Marlantes tells us a wonderful tale of the spirit and productivity that formed the northwestern US. The influence of the immigrants from Finland and Sweden are still apparent in the communities today that cradle the mouth of Deep River. I received a free electronic copy of this historical novel from Netgalley, Karl Marlantes, and Atlantic Monthly Press. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read this novel of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work.pub date July 2, 2019Atlantic Monthly PressReviewed on July 14, 2019, at Goodreads, Netgalley, SmileAmazon, Barnes & Noble, and BookBub. Kobo did not offer a way to review this book.
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  • Steven Z.
    January 1, 1970
    In DEEP RIVER, author Karl Marlantes moves on from his description of a company of Marines in Vietnam who tried to recapture a mountain top base that formed the basis of his award-winning book, MATTERHORN and his unique description of combat in his memoir, WHAT IT IS LIKE TO GO TO WAR. In his latest effort he takes on a different type of warfare centering around the battle between labor and capitalists in the Pacific northwest at the turn of the 20th century through 1932. Focusing on a Finnish i In DEEP RIVER, author Karl Marlantes moves on from his description of a company of Marines in Vietnam who tried to recapture a mountain top base that formed the basis of his award-winning book, MATTERHORN and his unique description of combat in his memoir, WHAT IT IS LIKE TO GO TO WAR. In his latest effort he takes on a different type of warfare centering around the battle between labor and capitalists in the Pacific northwest at the turn of the 20th century through 1932. Focusing on a Finnish immigrant family, the Koskis, Marlantes delves into the problems faced by immigrants as they arrived in Oregon and southern Washington, not far from the Columbia River as they struggled for survival as they are swallowed up by the lumber industry. The result is a family epic that spans an important segment of American history as well as a fascinating read that you will look forward to each time you pick up the book.Marlantes employs a literary epic approach to convey his story beginning with the difficulties that the Finnish people faced under Czarist rule in the 1890s. As revolution began to permeate Finnish villages the Koski family found themselves caught up in the whirlwind that surrounded the oppressive rule of the Romanovs and attempts by revolutionaries to free their country and establish some sort of Socialist utopia. Events resulted in the breakup of the Koski family as Taipo, the father is arrested and later dies in captivity, and the children Ilmari, Aino, and Matti immigrate to America. Each chooses their own path, Ilmari leaves first and takes advantage of the 1862 Homestead Act in Knappton, Washington; Aino, who turned to socialism and organizing opposition to the Czarist regime is arrested, tortured, and raped as she is implicated in a plot to assassinate a Czarist bureaucrat and winds up in the same area working in a logging camp near her brother; and the youngest of the three, Matti has visions of creating his own logging business after being exposed to the hard labor of the northwest forests. The Koski family is not the only one fractured by the Czarist regime as the Langstrom brothers are torn from each other; Gunnar a socialist revolutionary facing arrest and his brother Askel, who fears the Okhrana, the Czarist secret police escapes to Sweden and later to America.Marlantes develops many important characters to go along with the Koski siblings, including historical ones like the International Workers of the World (IWW) organizer and rabble rouser, Joe Hill and many others. Each character is introduced in the context of the Koski family and how they fit into the growing conflict between labor and lumber management. Aino is haunted by the love she left behind and her increasing radicalization throughout the book that leads her to organizing loggers for the IWW that results in splitting her family. Ilmari is a deeply religious man who organizes a congregation for the church he builds, marries and focuses on family life. Matti and Aksel will come together to try and take advantage of the increasing demand for lumber due to World War I. The trials and tribulations of each gather force and capture the imagination of the reader throughout the over 700-page story.Marlantes does a superb job explaining how the lumber industry functioned in the early 20th century and how cruel and dangerous it was for the loggers many of which were Finnish and Swedish immigrants. Wages were low, living conditions appalling as labor exploitation by lumber barons led to strikes and violence created by the IWW as each demand; straw to sleep on or an eight-hour day created greater angst on the part of both sides. Marlantes develops the tension in the narrative very carefully as he introduces the different characters and their families in the context of historical events. The crisis for labor and the IWW is laid out and its impact is presented through strikes in Nordland and other areas and the role of government is explored. Congress first gave the land to the Northern Pacific Railroad to build a transportation network in a rather corrupt bargain. The railroad would sell the excess land for profit to lumber barons, who employed soldiers and police to break up any attempt at strikes or unionization. As law enforcement wished to stifle dissent in the name of national security, it led to the Espionage Act of 1917, which has a certain resonance to arguments made today by certain elements in Washington, DC. Other important historical events are woven into the story including the Spanish flu, the Palmer Raids, and the onset and effect of the Depression.Marlantes uses his family epic to convey a microcosm of American labor history focusing on lumber capitalists, loggers, the role of the federal government, the Red Scare that followed World War I, and the impact of the Stock Market crash of 1929. His description of the plight of loggers as they try to better themselves and for some, like the Koskis and Aksel who try to make it on their own, the forces that try and keep them under control, and the wish of loggers and later fishermen to be successful capitalists is heart rendering and very complicated.The authors grasp of Finnish culture and traditions is exemplary and adds a great deal to the story line. He offers his own families past and his childhood memories as a motivation for pursuing his chronicle of the Koski family . Marlantes has offered the reader a gift and having completed it I thank him greatly.
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  • Jeanette
    January 1, 1970
    No rating. Just too long winded. Dire lyrical is just not for me. I was interested but the verbosity and redundant intersects just buried it alive.
  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    Another amazing book by former Marine (and Rhodes Scholar) Karl Marlantes. His first was the extraordinary novel about Vietnam, "Matterhorn." Deep River is a long and engaging saga of a group of young people who emigrate over a period of several years from rural Finland in the early 1900s to settle in the Washington/Oregon border area where the Columbia pours into the sea. They find work as loggers and fishermen, cooks and union organizers. They don't emigrate because they want to, but because f Another amazing book by former Marine (and Rhodes Scholar) Karl Marlantes. His first was the extraordinary novel about Vietnam, "Matterhorn." Deep River is a long and engaging saga of a group of young people who emigrate over a period of several years from rural Finland in the early 1900s to settle in the Washington/Oregon border area where the Columbia pours into the sea. They find work as loggers and fishermen, cooks and union organizers. They don't emigrate because they want to, but because for one reason or another they've had to leave Finland because they've gotten into trouble with the local authorities or with the Czar's secret police (Finland at this time is a duchy of Russia) or because there's no way for them to earn a living . The story centers around three siblings: the brothers Ilmari and Matti, and their sister Aino. Coming into the story are their friends and loves, their work colleagues, their children and in-laws, and many more characters. There are so many rich themes in this book: loyalty, religion and spirituality, human rights, workers rights, city vs. country, rich vs. poor, workers vs. owners, the Depression and Prohibition, politics, old ways vs. new ways, what it means to be an American, and more. This sounds like a lot, but most of the themes are interconnected and brilliantly interwoven. You don't have to be interested in any of this to really enjoy the book: at its simplest it's a well-crafted tale that will draw you in and keep you engaged. Highly recommend it!
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  • Becky Motew
    January 1, 1970
    4.2 starsWhat an achievement! An impressively ambitious work covering the family history of a Finnish family, Aino and her brothers Matti and Ilmari and the history of logging and fishing in the US Pacific Northwest.KM takes us inside the logging camps and explains in (sometimes excruciating) detail how the winches work and the cables and the steam donkeys and also how bad the camps smell. It's good to remember that we got here from there.Also the sometimes violent history of the Wobblies is tol 4.2 starsWhat an achievement! An impressively ambitious work covering the family history of a Finnish family, Aino and her brothers Matti and Ilmari and the history of logging and fishing in the US Pacific Northwest.KM takes us inside the logging camps and explains in (sometimes excruciating) detail how the winches work and the cables and the steam donkeys and also how bad the camps smell. It's good to remember that we got here from there.Also the sometimes violent history of the Wobblies is told. I was a little surprised with Aino being such a strong and bold and inspirational character that nothing was ever said about women's suffrage in that same time period. But of course she was born in Finland and it wouldn't have been part of her "sisu." Also, a small point but why did the children never think of bringing their mother over from Finland? Vibrant and rich storytelling and a compelling companion piece to Annie Proulx's Barkskins.
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  • Aimee Dars
    January 1, 1970
    Deep River follows the Koski siblings--Aino, Ilmari, and Matti--from childhood in Russian-occupied Finland to their settlement in the Pacific Northwest as they enter adulthood and begin families of their own. Ilmari, the first to arrive in the United States, homesteads on a large piece of land he received. Matti, the youngest, embraces capitalism as a way to protect himself from fears seated in childhood. Aino, however, the middle child and only girl, interested in communism from a young age, de Deep River follows the Koski siblings--Aino, Ilmari, and Matti--from childhood in Russian-occupied Finland to their settlement in the Pacific Northwest as they enter adulthood and begin families of their own. Ilmari, the first to arrive in the United States, homesteads on a large piece of land he received. Matti, the youngest, embraces capitalism as a way to protect himself from fears seated in childhood. Aino, however, the middle child and only girl, interested in communism from a young age, delves into the labor movement.In the community that survives largely on fishing and logging, the Koski siblings encounter many fellow Finns as well as Swedes, some of whom they knew in their hometown. Their business dealings and activism--not to mention relationships--take them in and out of each other’s orbits, while Aino, a stubborn lightning rod, often attracts danger from powerful business and political interests. They also face obstacles from nature--sometimes dry spells, sometimes too much rain--from world events, and from the economy.Karl Marlantes’s Matterhorn  is a tour de force, combining an engrossing setting with fully realized, unforgettable characters. In that novel, the details of being a soldier in Vietnam are so vividly drawn, it’s visceral, and the frustrations and injustice deeply felt.In Deep River, Marlantes conveys the same comprehensive awareness of setting born of personal experience and extensive research. No matter the context--a socialist meeting, a fishing boat, a logging site, or a bootleggers’ shootout--Marlantes provides encyclopedic knowledge. On the one hand, this can be very interesting, and I definitely learned a lot. On the other, it can be almost overwhelming and at times distracts from the story, bogging it down in unnecessary details.Because the book seemed to want to address every historical event in the time period over which it was set--some more tangential to the narrative--such as the Spanish Flu and the introduction of the automobile, the story is very long and bloated without a clear focus. Probably the most accurate answer to what the story is about would be that it charts Aino’s growth. Unfortunately, I found her a less than sympathetic character. This is surprising to me because she is a strong, independent woman before her time. Yet, she is clearly unable to read a crowd, and is so stubborn, she is selfish. Characters I was more interested in such as Vasutäti, a Native American elder, and Aino’s niece, Mielikki, had less of a role in the story. Overall, though, I think that the novel would have benefited from a ruthless editor who provided focus for the narrative while eliminating the unnecessary technical details of the logging and fishing crafts.Also, I was uncomfortable with how Marlantes used gender and cultural stereotypes without problematizing them. Finally, I was most disappointed in the writing style which I found less than polished. The transitions were often awkward, and the sentence structure led to a choppy, discordant flow.Dark River definitely includes interesting debates about socialism and unionization. During World War I, not just corporations and the state government, but also the military became involved in union busting. The skirmishes between the Industrial Workers of the Work (IWW), Ainoe’s union, and law enforcement, deputized citizens, and “patriots” were hard to imagine until you consider the types of conflicts in our streets today.Despite the flaws, this book should appeal to die-hard historical fiction fans as well as those who are interested in the history of the Pacific Northwest, particularly the logging and fishing industries, or about unions in the early 1900s.Thank you to NetGalley and Grove Atlantic / Atlantic Monthly Press for an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review....aka darzy... | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
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  • Hannah Grace || BookNerdNative
    January 1, 1970
    This book was deeply gripping and included stunning detail. This is the kind of historical fiction that is unforgettable. This story has completely 3 dimensional characters, who are wonderful and flawed and completely lifelike. This book made me shed a couple of tears, and gave a really insightful look into the early labor movement. This book was wonderful for fans of deep character development, long and engrossing stories, wonderful and lyrical writing, and many passionate arguments against cap This book was deeply gripping and included stunning detail. This is the kind of historical fiction that is unforgettable. This story has completely 3 dimensional characters, who are wonderful and flawed and completely lifelike. This book made me shed a couple of tears, and gave a really insightful look into the early labor movement. This book was wonderful for fans of deep character development, long and engrossing stories, wonderful and lyrical writing, and many passionate arguments against capitalism.
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  • Misha
    January 1, 1970
    Recently I made a list for a patron who enjoyed "whole life" novels. This is one such novel, following about 80 years in the life of Aino, a woman from Finland who flees Russian occupation and persecution and imprisonment as a political dissident to join her brothers in Washington State in the early 1900s. Aino is a devoted Marxist, an accidental midwife who apprenticed with her mother after the Russians took her father away, and a passionate idealist who devotes her life to union organizing and Recently I made a list for a patron who enjoyed "whole life" novels. This is one such novel, following about 80 years in the life of Aino, a woman from Finland who flees Russian occupation and persecution and imprisonment as a political dissident to join her brothers in Washington State in the early 1900s. Aino is a devoted Marxist, an accidental midwife who apprenticed with her mother after the Russians took her father away, and a passionate idealist who devotes her life to union organizing and worker's rights. This is rich with setting, characters, and politics while centering the life of a dogged, stubborn woman who risks life and limb for her cause. I read through this 700+ page book at a gulp, so entranced with Aino and the large cast of characters as they struggle to survive in the logging and fishing industries in Washington and Oregon. There is a Native character in the book (who I think is a great character, but I cannot vouch for her portrayal as a white reader), and references to racist attitudes at the time towards Italian, Greek and Chinese workers, but this book focuses on the Scandinavian communities that fled tyranny and war in their own countries to find a better life in America.
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    Three Koski siblings—Ilmari, Matti and Aino—flee Finland in the early 1900s and settle in Deep River located in southern Washington along the Columbia River. The brothers begin logging careers, and Aino encourages unionization. Covering over three decades, this novel shares details about the siblings' lives as they cling to their traditions, embrace the customs of their new country and discover what really matters. While this book is long, it tells a moving, entertaining and educational tale. I Three Koski siblings—Ilmari, Matti and Aino—flee Finland in the early 1900s and settle in Deep River located in southern Washington along the Columbia River. The brothers begin logging careers, and Aino encourages unionization. Covering over three decades, this novel shares details about the siblings' lives as they cling to their traditions, embrace the customs of their new country and discover what really matters. While this book is long, it tells a moving, entertaining and educational tale. I appreciated the mixture of humanity with facts and learned a great deal about the lives of pioneers in the logging industry, the quest for safer work conditions, and life of Finnish immigrants to the United States. I even felt like I knew the family intimately. Filled with sisu (grit!), "Deep River" took me on an adventure. It's a thoughtful novel that prompted me to consider the history of the United States and my current life in a new way.
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  • Todd
    January 1, 1970
    Deep RiverKarl Marlantes#GoodreadsGiveawayTentative Publication Date: July 2, 2019Tentative Price: $30.00Karl Marlantes states "this novel is not a retelling of The Kalevala but rather a tale highly influenced by it" (page 720, ARC). This is helpful to know when stepping into the churning waters of Deep River. Marlantes has crafted an accomplished melding of the "shamanic past" with the cultural realities of logging, fishing, and bootlegging set primarily in and around the Columbia River basin Deep RiverKarl Marlantes#GoodreadsGiveawayTentative Publication Date: July 2, 2019Tentative Price: $30.00Karl Marlantes states "this novel is not a retelling of The Kalevala but rather a tale highly influenced by it" (page 720, ARC). This is helpful to know when stepping into the churning waters of Deep River. Marlantes has crafted an accomplished melding of the "shamanic past" with the cultural realities of logging, fishing, and bootlegging set primarily in and around the Columbia River basin of Oregon and Washington at the turn of the 20th century. Marlantes shows the full power of writing available through an extended narrative. The 700+ pages are not weighed down with verbose language or with unnecessary plot divergences. The novel primarily follows the character of Aino Koski from her youth in Finland to her time as an octogenarian. The prose is powerful, engrossing, and moving and is at times profound. The Finnish cultural heritage sets the frame as the Koski family lives their lives in the midst of the dangerous lumber and fishing industries in the American Pacific Northwest that is at times beautiful, but can also be cruel and corrupt. The narrative also opens a window unto the challenges and realities of the labor movement in the early 20th century, as well as the ideological confrontation between Communism, Socialism, Nationalism, and Capitalism.Marlantes covers a wide swath of intellectual territory that is altogether satisfying - a great read.5 stars#MythicFictionhttps://groveatlantic.com/author/karl...
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  • John
    January 1, 1970
    *Thanks to Goodreads & Grove Atlantic for providing me with an advance reader’s copy of this – I absolutely LOVED Matterhorn and I was thrilled to be selected for one of these copies!*Marlantes' Deep River is an impressive tome that chronicles a family of Finnish immigrants fleeing Finland for better opportunities in the Pacific Northwest in the early 1900s. The book is many things, including an immigrant story, an account of labor struggles at the birth of the 20th century, and an allegory *Thanks to Goodreads & Grove Atlantic for providing me with an advance reader’s copy of this – I absolutely LOVED Matterhorn and I was thrilled to be selected for one of these copies!*Marlantes' Deep River is an impressive tome that chronicles a family of Finnish immigrants fleeing Finland for better opportunities in the Pacific Northwest in the early 1900s. The book is many things, including an immigrant story, an account of labor struggles at the birth of the 20th century, and an allegory of Finnish mythology. It is also a solemn tribute to the Pacific Northwest, with amazing descriptions of the lush, dense forests of Oregon/Washington, the untamed currents of the Columbia River and it’s tributaries, and the fearless lumberjacks and fishermen that sought to make their livings from the beautiful, and sometimes lethal environs.The 700+ pages allowed plenty of breathing room for the story to develop. It was gratifying to just settle in and let the triumphs and defeats of the extended Koski family unfold without the story feeling rushed. Conversely, Marlantes also did a great job of keeping the story moving so I never felt bogged down. It was an impressive balancing act that made the book immensely readable.There were also tones of John Steinbeck throughout Deep River, specifically the books East of Eden and In Dubious Battle. As a huge fan of Steinbeck, this further added to my enjoyment of the book. Like Steinbeck, Marlantes was able to create authentic characters and place them in a specific historical and geographical setting, while providing hints of a deeper struggle taking place just below the surface of day to day life.All of these characteristics made Deep River a very satisfying and enjoyable read!
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    I'm not gonna lie. I wanted another Matterhorn. I loved Matterhorn so much for being so true to the experience of a marine in Vietnam. Of course, it was written by a Vietnam veteran who has now turned to Finnish immigrants in the Pacific Northwest at the turn of the century. So....not Matterhorn. I suppose I'll forgive Marlantes. He brings the plight of the Koski family to vivid life while teaching a history lesson on the birth of unions, the logging district, the politics of bootlegging in the I'm not gonna lie. I wanted another Matterhorn. I loved Matterhorn so much for being so true to the experience of a marine in Vietnam. Of course, it was written by a Vietnam veteran who has now turned to Finnish immigrants in the Pacific Northwest at the turn of the century. So....not Matterhorn. I suppose I'll forgive Marlantes. He brings the plight of the Koski family to vivid life while teaching a history lesson on the birth of unions, the logging district, the politics of bootlegging in the prohibition era and what it means to be a part of a family. Marlantes shows his true strengths as a writer in battle scenes. While WWI is touched on, the battles of Deep River are not in the arena of war, but battles for workers rights, survival in hard times and for keeping those you love with you. Over 800 pages, the battle scenes are well placed to keep you invested in the story right through the end.
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  • Cat
    January 1, 1970
    We agree to be unbiased in our book reviews, but what are you to do when given the opportunity to review one of your favorite authors? Karl Marlantes of “Matterhorn” and “What It Is Like to Go to War” fame has taken the about-face with the subject of his new novel, but his talent and lyrical writing talent maintains its strong presence in this epic tale spanning over 80 years about immigrants surviving in the logging trade in Northwest America, early 1900s. Finns and Swedes are thrown together, We agree to be unbiased in our book reviews, but what are you to do when given the opportunity to review one of your favorite authors? Karl Marlantes of “Matterhorn” and “What It Is Like to Go to War” fame has taken the about-face with the subject of his new novel, but his talent and lyrical writing talent maintains its strong presence in this epic tale spanning over 80 years about immigrants surviving in the logging trade in Northwest America, early 1900s. Finns and Swedes are thrown together, coming to a better world but realizing everything has a steep price. The story revolves around three of the Koski siblings, beginning in Finland and detailing why they’re not given much of choice: die in their homeland for what they believe or go to America to begin a new life.Each step of the way is beautifully and historically detailed through the brothers’ Ilmari and Matti’s demanding and extremely dangerous jobs as loggers in Washington state to their sister Aino’s strength to rise above the mold she is expected to take to become a vocal and leading cause for workers rights.This is a beautifully written epic, deeply detailing the struggles and trials that were faced by the siblings, their children, their friends, and neighbors. Detailed with labor strikes, rifts between various factions of immigrants fighting over the same piece of respect, struggles with alcohol, American ways, shamans of American Indian descendants and the cruel effects of nature’s harsh disregard for life, the portrait of their lives is beautifully painted.After completing the book I was pleasantly surprised to read in the author’s comments that he based the characters on the Kalevala, a 19th-century work of poetry based on Finnish folklore. I researched more about the Kalevala and became even more enchanted with the characters. Their strengths and weaknesses took on a new dimension, including the strong connection between Ilmari and his Indian shaman Vasutati.I can easily see this becoming a mini-series; a movie wouldn’t do it justice. You can’t fit all this emotion, sacrifice, and love and loss into a 2-hour plot. I strongly recommend you take this journey. It’s well worth it.(I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Thank you to Grove Atlantic and NetGalley for making it available.)
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  • Candace
    January 1, 1970
    Part immigrant story, part labor history, all good, "Deep River" follows members of the Koski family as politicized members of the family flee Finland for southwest Washington State. There's a Finnish community there, lumbering and working small farms. Ilmari goes first, fleeing conscription into the Tsar's army and starting a small dairy farm. Matti follows, almost at the same time as his sister Aino, probably the most politically active of them all. Matti's still a child, but finds a place in Part immigrant story, part labor history, all good, "Deep River" follows members of the Koski family as politicized members of the family flee Finland for southwest Washington State. There's a Finnish community there, lumbering and working small farms. Ilmari goes first, fleeing conscription into the Tsar's army and starting a small dairy farm. Matti follows, almost at the same time as his sister Aino, probably the most politically active of them all. Matti's still a child, but finds a place in the logging camp. Aino joins the cookhouse crew of women who turn out extraordinary amounts of food three times a day for ravenous loggers. Karl Marlantes expresses the danger and excitement of late 19th century logging--the brutality of the work, the exhausting days, the foul living conditions blend with the joy of Saturday dances and the sense of building a new world. The logging camp is prime fodder for Aino's labor organizing skills. She finds herself walking a tricky path between staying employed and encouraging workers to fight for better working conditions. She becomes a member of the International Workers of the World--the Wobblies--and a friend of labor organizer Joe Hill. Amidst all the labor organizing, logging, dancing and eventually rum-running and salmon fishing, the Koskis live full personal lives. A no-nonsense, hardworking, no-frills people, the Washington State Finns manage to build new lives in their sodden new land. This is a big, satisfying novel, engrossing, well researched, with lots of heart. I was astounded by the extreme danger of the logging business and how hard labor organizers had to fight for the smallest improvement in the loggers' working conditions. With a January 2019 pub date, "Deep River" kicks the new year of reading off to a great start.
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  • Anne
    January 1, 1970
    Marlantes has written an epic novel that ranges from Finland to the Pacific Northwest of the USA, spanning the years from 1893-1932, and covering the dawn of the logging industry, IWW labor organizing, and WWI. Featuring the stories of 3 siblings who separately left Finland to escape the Russian domination of their homeland, Ilmari, Matti, and Aino have settled along the Columbia River in Washington state—it’s 1904. The story most closely follows Aino, the young sister, who arrives in the United Marlantes has written an epic novel that ranges from Finland to the Pacific Northwest of the USA, spanning the years from 1893-1932, and covering the dawn of the logging industry, IWW labor organizing, and WWI. Featuring the stories of 3 siblings who separately left Finland to escape the Russian domination of their homeland, Ilmari, Matti, and Aino have settled along the Columbia River in Washington state—it’s 1904. The story most closely follows Aino, the young sister, who arrives in the United States alone and speaking only Finnish. The PNW has been a haven for other Finnish and Swedish immigrants so she travels there, reconnects with her brothers, and eventually fits in. In a sweeping novel that focuses most closely on the logging industry, the reader sees the deprivation, the extreme physicality, and the frequent injuries and deaths that are caused by the long days, low wages, and horrific conditions under which these people work and for which they are paid pennies. I suppose the amount of detail about the logging business might be a distraction for some readers but I was absolutely caught up in the daily grind and the hardships suffered by these characters I grew to love. You know you’ve fallen in love with the characters when you mourn their losses and cheer their success. #ilovebigbooks and this one really is a favorite for me. In an author’s note, Marlantes says this is a tale highly influenced by the heroes of Finland. These tales, kept alive through a collection of ancient songs known as The Kalevala, are now brought to life through the imagination and storytelling of Karl Marlantes. Thank you to Grove Atlantic and NetGalley for this advance readers copy.
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  • Allison Valentine
    January 1, 1970
    Its early 1900s and Russia is in the imperial rule and takes Finland by control. Three family members flee to America they settle in Colombia River in Washington. The brothers Ilmari, Matti and Aino began their life in the wilderness by working hard and trying to make ends meet and start a family. This is a very moving account of immigration life and sacrifice to leave your home behind and start again in a new country.
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  • Kim McGee
    January 1, 1970
    A classic Americana tale of immigrant families who settled the lands of the Pacific Northwest. The Finns who ran from Russian oppression and the Swedes who came looking for an opportunity are featured as they work to create a logging empire in the early 1900's Washington. Old customs and racial divides were not forgotten in this new land of great natural beauty as well as the chance to conquer the impossible and make something of yourself. At the center of the tale is the radical and independent A classic Americana tale of immigrant families who settled the lands of the Pacific Northwest. The Finns who ran from Russian oppression and the Swedes who came looking for an opportunity are featured as they work to create a logging empire in the early 1900's Washington. Old customs and racial divides were not forgotten in this new land of great natural beauty as well as the chance to conquer the impossible and make something of yourself. At the center of the tale is the radical and independent Aino Koski and her siblings along with the two men in her life that want to claim her as their own. The author does a remarkable job of syncing the lush and dangerous countryside to the tough dangerous but very emotional people who try to tame it. This book is an important addition to the immigrant experience and how it took independent thinkers who were willing to work hard at great risk to break the cycle of only the elite few reaching success. My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy.
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  • Jacquelyne
    January 1, 1970
    I enthusiastically recommend this book. I feel like I've just had a (highly enjoyable) crash history course on Finland, socialism vs capitalism, northwest America, labor unions, and more. The history lessons are rich, but the plot was not compromised for historical accuracy in any way.In the beginning, it felt a bit like my first read of Anna Karenina, needing to acclimate myself to a wide berth of characters with names obscure to my native language, but it didn't take long, and I was devouring I enthusiastically recommend this book. I feel like I've just had a (highly enjoyable) crash history course on Finland, socialism vs capitalism, northwest America, labor unions, and more. The history lessons are rich, but the plot was not compromised for historical accuracy in any way.In the beginning, it felt a bit like my first read of Anna Karenina, needing to acclimate myself to a wide berth of characters with names obscure to my native language, but it didn't take long, and I was devouring this tale of hard-work, love, war, politics, and culture. This is a quote-rich tale full of points that beg for deep discussion, whether in a book club or across the dinner table or up on Capitol Hill.I'm grateful to have been given this ARC by NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for my honest review. I can't wait to purchase this when published and encourage my family to read it, and I will likely return to this again and again. It will be a classic here now. "...you need to see beyond the self-righteous us versus them. Politics is just war by another means. And there’s no glory in war.”
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  • Lyndi
    January 1, 1970
    I received a complimentary copy of this book through Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.Three Koski siblings-Ilmari, Aino, and Matti-escape Finland during political unrest and find a home in Deep River, Washington. The two boys find jobs in the dangerous logging profession while Aino, the central character of the book, works in the logging kitchens. She sees the terrible working conditions of the men working long hours for little pay and becomes a strong voice fo I received a complimentary copy of this book through Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.Three Koski siblings-Ilmari, Aino, and Matti-escape Finland during political unrest and find a home in Deep River, Washington. The two boys find jobs in the dangerous logging profession while Aino, the central character of the book, works in the logging kitchens. She sees the terrible working conditions of the men working long hours for little pay and becomes a strong voice for unionization.The story follows the three through the downfall of the logging operation, river salmon fishing and the rise of unionization.I think Aino was a strong female character in the book, and I like how passionate she was about fighting for the common worker. But I also thought she was so selfish putting the cause before everything else: her husband, her freedom, and even her daughter. This is a large book, but well worth the time. Great story!
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  • Sandra Pipitone
    January 1, 1970
    What an enjoyable book, would of like to see this book done as a series. Thought it was a little long but did enjoy!
  • Sean Munoz
    January 1, 1970
    This book wasn't the most hard hitting I had read in a while. The description and the cover is very attention catching, but the actual content leaves little satisfaction.
  • The Book Beggar
    January 1, 1970
    Deep River by Karl Marlantes⭐⭐⭐3 of 5 StarsPublished by Atlantic Monthly Press - July 2nd, 2019I cannot recall why I had been so eager to request and read this book. Thinking back on it, I recall it being on my list of books I was interested by that was going to be released in 2019. Each year I comb through long lists of books and set aside names of books that I think could be a good read for one reason or another. I struggled with this book. It was not at all something that I would normally go Deep River by Karl Marlantes⭐️⭐️⭐️3 of 5 StarsPublished by Atlantic Monthly Press - July 2nd, 2019I cannot recall why I had been so eager to request and read this book. Thinking back on it, I recall it being on my list of books I was interested by that was going to be released in 2019. Each year I comb through long lists of books and set aside names of books that I think could be a good read for one reason or another. I struggled with this book. It was not at all something that I would normally go for if I had understood more about the writing style of the author. I have not yet read anything else by this author, therefore I am not familiar. This book was actually a DNF (did not finish) for me. Which is the most terrible of literary sins in my opinion. Especially if you special request it or go out of your way for it. I tried, truly, but I have so many other books on my list right now that I knew I would be more captivated by that I had to cut my losses. My problems with this book stemmed from two major points: the pace of the book, and its ability to captivate. If a book has a slower pace or it has a bit of a plateau at some point in the plot it is a lot easier for me to push through and keep reading if I am captivated. Whether it be by the characters, the minor details, the writing style or the plot of the book - if I am captivated enough to want to read it, I am willing to hold out for the pace to change. Not only was my attention not being held, but the pace would drag on and make me feel like I was falling asleep. As a writer, I understand the hard work that goes into putting thoughts and ideas onto paper. And maybe I am being hypercritical of a book based on my initial assessment. After all, it was a DNF for me. I have read books before where the pace of the book is designed to mirror the pace of each character's experience, typically emotionally related. If the individual is active and things are going smoothly, the writing and flow will follow suit. Same with if the character is stuck in their own way or cannot surpass this internal dilemma. The plague of the mental and emotional stress is often translated into the writing style. I felt as though this book was attempting to do that, but was not employing it appropriately. I also felt as though there was a bit of a power struggle between characters where some characters could have and should have been the focus. By doing so their depth and struggle could come to light better. As of around page 50 or so I still was unable to determine who the main character or characters were. I had some idea but I wanted there to be a bit more of a separation. Main and supporting characters should have their own levels of depth. And even with supporting characters their story can be more or less developed based on their role in the overall arch of the plot. The was only one character I really connected with and that was Aino. Aino is placed in a difficult position being both driven and educated. In this time women were not welcomed for their opinions. Aino's internal struggle with what happened to her while she was being detained and tortured follows her to America. And it is this same struggle that makes her become the type of person she is. What is more, there is even a specific defining moment she has (both as a character and for the plot) where Aino decides who she wants be and what she will do. She holds herself and those around her to certain standards. Her no-nonsense attitude combined with the desire to still attempt a life of youth, innocence, and frivolity is awe-inspiring. Other than Aino, I really did not have much else to look forward to in this book. It is for that reason that I elected to pass on the remainder of the book. Original blog post:
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  • Vicky
    January 1, 1970
    Who knew that Finns have such a long and proud history of immigration to America?Certainly not I: in fact, this whole book was an eye-opener. By turns passionate, informative and political, this book is definitely a stonking piece of fiction, and hats off to Karl Marlantes for tackling such a huge topic over the course of one single novel.Deep River is the story of the Koski siblings: Ilmari, Aino and Matti, who emigrate from Finland to America one by one in order to escape political persecution Who knew that Finns have such a long and proud history of immigration to America?Certainly not I: in fact, this whole book was an eye-opener. By turns passionate, informative and political, this book is definitely a stonking piece of fiction, and hats off to Karl Marlantes for tackling such a huge topic over the course of one single novel.Deep River is the story of the Koski siblings: Ilmari, Aino and Matti, who emigrate from Finland to America one by one in order to escape political persecution and build a new life for themselves. They do that in the timber industry, and most of this book (which spans a huuuuuge four decades) charts the family’s attempts to find their way in a new and evolving country.More than anything else, this book was a history lesson. I had no idea that Finland used to be occupied by Russia and also Sweden, that so many Finns left for America (hundreds of thousands of them, apparently) and that lots of them were so politicised. Along with Ilmari and Matti’s deep dive into the logging industry, the book also charts Aino’s passionate struggle to bring socialism and fairer working rights to America, and her attempt to set up some of the first trade unions in the country.That was fascinating. However, there was no getting away from the fact that this book is lo-o-o-ng. Probably a tad too long, because I felt moments where my attention started to wander and I began to flick through pages at a slightly-faster rate than usual, just to say that I’d finally cleared the 50% mark. It’s no easy task, condensing so much history into one book, but I think it might have been better as a duology.What else? I loved the characters: they felt real and made mistakes just like anybody else. Also, people died Game-of-Thrones style in this book; you really couldn’t tell who’d make it to the end and who wasn’t going to. As far as the main characters went, Aino was a little bit too Marmite for me- her reckless devotion to the cause meant that, among other things, she destroyed her marriage and abandoned her daughter for almost five years. Not great.Despite that, I really found myself caring for the Koski family. It’s impossible not to root for them and for their struggles to make a life for themselves, and this book is a tribute to that struggle. All hail the epic!
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  • Daniel Cuthbert
    January 1, 1970
    Epic in every sense of the word, “Deep River” concerns three Finnish family members, Ilmari, Matti, and Aino. The three migrate from Finland to Oregon around the turn of the century and find themselves embroiled in the timber industry in an effort to establish new and better lives for themselves, to varying degrees of success in this massive, 700+ page tome.It’s very easy to look at a book this size and immediately run screaming for the hills, thinking there is no way that you could read anythin Epic in every sense of the word, “Deep River” concerns three Finnish family members, Ilmari, Matti, and Aino. The three migrate from Finland to Oregon around the turn of the century and find themselves embroiled in the timber industry in an effort to establish new and better lives for themselves, to varying degrees of success in this massive, 700+ page tome.It’s very easy to look at a book this size and immediately run screaming for the hills, thinking there is no way that you could read anything like that. And while yes, it may be a little harder to stick this book in a purse or a bag, it certainly doesn’t read like a slog through early 20th century history. In fact, it’s the way that Karl Marlantes builds these epic worlds, combining clear historical research with his ability to show rather than simply recite, that makes this such an amazing novel. I am just a bit biased in that he sets the novel mostly in the pre to just after World War I time period that I find immensely interesting. But as you read, you can really start to understand just how much of what went on here, ended up influencing so much of what’s happening now. He does an especially great job of making this earlier era setting extremely timely, pulling you in by virtue of how he can tie events into modern times. Especially with Aino, who becomes a Socialist figure and member of the labor group the IWW, known commonly as the “Wobblies” who ends up fighting for better working conditions and has to deal with the repression that came to many labor organizations after World War I. By the end, the parallels with modern progressives are made abundantly clear. While certainly having political aims, Marlantes also makes you truly care about what happens to all of the siblings. Their struggles and triumphs are done truthfully and you get to really learn a lot about Finnish culture, besides the American History touches. This is literary genealogy, done in such a way that the length is secondary to being entertained by an enthralling, well-paced piece of historical fiction. (I received a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway and very much appreciate the opportunity to get to read and give my thoughts on it!)
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  • Readnponder
    January 1, 1970
    There are two kinds of summer reads: (1) the “beach read” consisting of a page-turning mystery or rom-com -- sufficiently entertaining, but not overly serious; and (2) the 700+ page immersive family saga – think Roots or The Thorn Birds. Summer affords the requisite leisure time to tackle a hefty book. Deep River falls into the latter category.The book depicts the experiences of the three Koski siblings – Ilmari, Aino, and Matti -- from their childhood in Finland, to their individual journeys to There are two kinds of summer reads: (1) the “beach read” consisting of a page-turning mystery or rom-com -- sufficiently entertaining, but not overly serious; and (2) the 700+ page immersive family saga – think Roots or The Thorn Birds. Summer affords the requisite leisure time to tackle a hefty book. Deep River falls into the latter category.The book depicts the experiences of the three Koski siblings – Ilmari, Aino, and Matti -- from their childhood in Finland, to their individual journeys to Washington state and efforts to gain a foothold in a new country. Ilmari, the traditional brother, is a farmer and blacksmith. Strong-willed sister Aino, influenced by Marxist comrades in Finland, seeks to organize chapters of the IWW. Matti aspires to operate his own logging business. Meanwhile, their friend Aksel dreams of owning a fishing boat. I am a huge fan of Marlantes’ first book, Matterhorn, so was eager to get my hands on the Netgalley version of Deep River. Just as Matterhorn, Deep River offers a lengthy dramatis personae and detailed descriptions of the era, in this case, the 1900s logging industry and nascent labor movement. Without a doubt, Marlantes did his research. I would pause in my reading to Google unfamiliar logging equipment or a fishing term. Just when I began to worry that the minutia on timber would rival Melville’s on whales, the plot would shift back to the struggle to unionize. The two were intertwined: for the unchecked risks posed by logging practices, fueled labor’s demand for safer conditions and higher wages. New to me was the impact of WWI on the immigrants and the timber industry. Recent immigrants tended to sympathize with the posture taken by their home country in Europe rather than the American position. And then there were businessmen who proclaimed that war was the best thing to happen to them. They were sorry to see armistice. Marlantes’ appreciation of ancient texts -- evident in his non-fiction work What It Is Like to Go to War -- is again on display as he pays homage to the Finnish epic, The Kalevala. But the reader need not fear being lost in fodder for literary studies, Deep River is first and foremost a darn good story.
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