Sickly Harriet just wants to live again and feels she can do that in Egypt, a place she's always been somewhat obsessed with. If she can't live, she just wants to die. She picks up a beau (so she thinks), learns about love--what it feels like, and also finally develops the gumption to speak up for herself and say, "No, Mom." Through her we see that letting yourself be treated like a child will make you feel like one and others will view you that way too.
Her mother Louisa is tortured by her past when someone from it happens to be on the same ship to Egypt. I can't say I enjoyed her part much. I didn't see the point, the moral. I'm sure there was something there, but I'm not picking it up. I found this character somewhat weird.
Yael, the aunt, has to be my favorite. I love how she strays from the safe, the norm, and breaks convention to stay in Alexandria and open a clinic to teach women how to practice good hygiene and fight disease. I feel too often the story went long periods of time of not giving us more Yael and switching to Louisa instead. The moral I sorta took from her: the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
I really liked her though.
Long review short: It was well written if a big overly long at times, a bit drawn out. I must say, however, and though this doesn't bother me, there was no romance really. "A romantic, vivid novel about three women..." I wouldn't call the "love" stories romance to be honest. If you're looking for a romance, this isn't for you.
I do however find myself a little disappointed. "The Sacred River is an indelible depiction of the power of women and the influence they can have when released from the confines of proper English society." Except for Yael, I fail to see how these women have influence over anyone, at least in a good way. Making a man seek revenge? Is that it? I guess I was expecting something else.
Is it a strong woman book? Hm. Louisa shows strength in trying to protect her daughter. Yael shows strength and courage both by what she does, and this in a time of turmoil as hatred against Europeans mounts. Harriet doesn't show much strength 'till the very end. I thought her a tad weak, though fighting an illness can't be easy.
I'd like to add that the descriptions about Egypt and the tomb and the situation there are really very vivid and done in an interesting way.
I receive this via Netgalley.