River of Dust (Paperback)

Staff Pick Badge
River of Dust Cover Image
$16.00
Usually Ships in 1-5 Days

Staff Reviews


River of Dust
by Virginia Pye is the story of a family of missionaries in the year 1910,
shortly after what is known as the Boxer Rebellion. Reverend John Wesley Watson
is a man who stands very tall and is quite powerful looking. Reverend Watson is
zealous in his task to bring faith in Jesus to the heathen peasants. His faith
however, is tried when his first born son, Wesley, is stolen by group of Mongol
nomads. After the kidnapping, his life, his wife’s and his servants’ change
drastically. The Reverend becomes obsessive about finding his son. He soon
becomes known as “Ghost Man” famous for his ability to perform miracles and
evade death. The revelations he experiences bring him to a better understanding
of these people he had so fervently wanted to convert to Christianity, and to
his own part in this tragedy of his family. The story is also about his young
wife, Grace who barely manages to stay alive after the loss of her son. She is
very pregnant and sickly. Thanks to the expertise of her amah, she survives.
Her faith in her husband has changed; she sees him less as a deity, more as a
man with flaws. In the end, both husband and wife are very different people
than the two young idealists who once thought that they had the answers to the
world’s problems. The story was well told, one that I very much enjoyed.

— Nancy Nelson

River of Dust by Virginia Pye is the story of a family of missionaries in the year 1910, shortly after what is known as the Boxer Rebellion. Reverend John Wesley Watson is a man who stands very tall and is quite powerful looking. Reverend Watson is zealous in his task to bring faith in Jesus to the heathen peasants. His faith however, is tried when his first born son, Wesley, is stolen by group of Mongol nomads. After the kidnapping, his life, his wife’s and his servants’ change drastically. The Reverend becomes obsessive about finding his son. He soon becomes known as "Ghost Man" famous for his ability to perform miracles and evade death. The revelations he experiences bring him to a better understanding of these people he had so fervently wanted to convert to Christianity, and to his own part in this tragedy of his family. The story is also about his young wife, Grace who bare-ly manages to stay alive after the loss of her son. She is very pregnant and sickly. Thanks to the expertise of her amah, she sur-vives. Her faith in her husband has changed; she sees him less as a deity, more as a man with flaws. In the end, both husband and wife are very different people than the two young and idealists who once thought that they had the answers to the world’s problems. The story was well told, one that I very much enjoyed reading.

— Nancy Nelson

May 2013 Indie Next List


“Drawing on the historical journals of her grandfather, author Virginia Pye has created something that is rather unique these days: a totally original story line. Her debut novel tells the story of Reverend Wesley Watson and his wife Grace as they confront the bleak landscape of northwestern China shortly after the Boxer Rebellion. Intending to bring the word of God to the Chinese, they are immediately sidetracked by the kidnapping of their young son. What follows is the heart-wrenching tale of the search for their son, ultimately leading to the Reverend's downfall and Grace's debilitating illness. Pye's sharp, haunting descriptions of drought, famine, desert travel, and opium dens will immerse readers in this world. RIVER OF DUST is a must-read for fans of quality historical fiction.”
— Nancy Simpson Brice, The Book Vault, Oskaloosa, IA

Description


On the windswept plains of northwestern China, Mongol bandits swoop down upon an American missionary couple and steal their small child. The reverend sets out in search of the boy and becomes lost in the rugged, corrupt countryside populated by opium dens, sly nomadic warlords, and traveling circuses. This upright Midwestern minister develops a following among the Chinese peasants and is christened Ghost Man for what they perceive as his otherworldly powers. Grace, his young wife, pregnant with their second child, takes to her sick bed in the mission compound, where visions of her stolen child and lost husband begin to beckon to her from across the plains. The foreign couple's savvy and dedicated Chinese servants, Ahcho and Mai Lin, accompany and eventually lead them through dangerous territory to find one another again. With their Christian beliefs sorely tested, their concept of fate expanded, and their physical health rapidly deteriorating, the reverend and Grace may finally discover an understanding between them that is greater than the vast distance they have come.

About the Author


Virginia Pye holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and has taught writing at the University of Pennsylvania and New York University. A three-term president of James River Writers, a literary non-profit in Richmond, Virginia, she writes award-winning short stories that have appeared in numerous literary magazines, including The North American Review, Tampa Review and The Baltimore Review.

Praise For…


A vividly imagined and beautifully drawn picture of the life of Christian missionaries in China in the early 20th century.” Jung Chang, author of Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China; co-author, Mao: the Unknown Story

A gemstone of a novel...River of Dust is a masterpiece.” - Caroline Leavitt

The entire novel ultimately becomes an analogy for grief over a lost child, and China is simply the treacherous, foreign landscape on which it is laid. In the end, the sense of adventure beckons the characters more than the sense of loss buries them. Pye’s hand manages to paint a rather naked response to what it means to move forward with only a sort of faithless hope.” Style Weekly

Terrific, tremendous, wonderfula strong, beautiful, deep book.” Annie Dillard

Virginia Pye’s River of Dust is a remarkable novel in the ways that delight me the most: It has a compelling narrative voice, a dynamic story and a deep resonance into the universal human condition, all of which is inextricably bound together. This is a major work by a splendid writer.” Robert Olen Butler

Product Details
ISBN: 9781609531034
ISBN-10: 1609531035
Publisher: Unbridled Books
Publication Date: April 15th, 2014
Pages: 280
Language: English