Book Review Across the Winding River by Aimie K. Runyan

Across the Winding River
Aimie K. Runyan
File Size: 5262 KB
Print Length: 301 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1542004756
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: August 1, 2020

BOOK BLURB: A woman unlocks the mystery of her father’s wartime past in a moving novel about secrets, sacrifice, and the power of love by the bestselling author of Daughters of the Night Sky.

Beth Cohen wants to make the most of the months she has left with her elderly father, Max. His only request of his daughter is to go through the long-forgotten box of memorabilia from his days as a medic on the western front. Then, among his wartime souvenirs, Beth finds a photograph of her father with an adoring and beautiful stranger—a photograph worth a thousand questions.

It was 1944 when Max was drawn into the underground resistance by the fearless German wife of a Nazi officer. Together, she and Max were willing to risk everything for what they believed was right. Ahead of them lay a dangerous romance, a dream of escape, and a destiny over which neither had control.

But Max isn’t alone in his haunting remembrances of war. In a nearby private care home is a fragile German-born woman with her own past to share. Only when the two women meet does Beth realize how much more to her father there is to know, all the ways in which his heart still breaks, and the closure he needs to heal it.

Often I get lost when a story moves from character to character ,and from one time period to the next, but the transitions in this story were so smooth, I was able to follow the paths with ease, until reaching a most satisfying final destination.

But in many ways, I hated to come to The End and leave these people I’d become friends with.

I loved Max, as the old man wanting to do a life-assessment with his daughter, Beth, and as the young dentist thrust into the horrors of war, willing to trust his heart and the young German girl he meets at the outskirts of the American military camp. Ultimately, this is their story as their lives become the bridge across the winding river of circumstances and events that separate them.

I loved Johanna, the aeronautical engineer working for the Reich, who struggled with loyalty to her German heritage and a budding loyalty to something better than what Hitler was presenting. “If only we’d anticipated how bad things would become. If only we’d taken Hitler to be the dangerous madman he was and not dismissed him as a fool.”

When considering how life would have been different had she taken Hitler seriously, Johanna thinks, “But that was the music of regret, was it not? The woodwinds played a melody of coulds. The strings played the plaintive song of woulds. The brass, a hollow symphony of shoulds.”

I loved Metta, the sister. The brave young woman that Max loved, who risked her life for a cause she believed in. While she wasn’t Don Quixote, I couldn’t help but think of these lines from the song, “The Impossible Dream” that so often stirred my teenage heart.

“To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march
March into hell
For that heavenly cause”

That is how dedicated and committed Metta was to working with the Resistance.

I loved Beth, who loved her father so completely she could forgive him for keeping such a momentous a secret for so long. And who was willing to do what she had to to help him find his Metta.

This is a story rich in beautiful language, dramatic and heart-wrenching moments, and a cast of memorable characters. I highly recommend adding Across the Winding River  to your summer reading list. It releases on August 1, 2020 and is available for pre-order. As a member of the Tall Poppy Bloggers, I was given an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


Aimie K. Runyan writes to celebrate history’s unsung heroines. She is the author of two previous historical novels: Promised to the Crown and Duty to the Crown. She is active as an educator and a speaker in the writing community and beyond. She lives in Colorado with her wonderful husband and two (usually) adorable children. To learn more about Aimie and her work, please visit her WEBSITE 

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