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December 31 , 2010

The River Journey


A middle-aged woman MINERVA PARKINSON lives with her longtime husband HENRY along the Missouri River. Minerva receives some startling news after a routine check-up: she is dying. Since her marriage to Henry has been listless for many years, she decides not to share her grave diagnosis with him. Instead, she plans one last hurrah so that he will have warm and lasting memories of their time together. Minerva buys a houseboat as Henry has always dreamed of taking a riverboat trip, and they set off down the Missouri. Her plans suddenly become complicated when they meet two strangers NORA STEVENS, an innocent young woman looking for love and companionship, and MR. MORTIMER, a mysterious man who possesses wisdom and knowledge beyond the worldly realm. We soon discover that Mr. Mortimer's real identity is 'Death' and that he's been assigned to take Minerva with him to the other side. As they travel down the Missouri, Minerva notices an attraction between her husband and Nora. Initially this is hurtful, but she loves her husband and wants him to be happy. Meanwhile, Mortimer reminds her the 'clock is ticking'. Minerva agrees to go with him but asks that he wait until they have finished their journey. She wants her husband to enjoy this trip and even considers Nora a suitable companion for Henry. This kind and selfless act touches Mortimer's heart, and he falls in love with her. Mortimer, who is bound by duty, takes Minerva to the other side and, in a surprise twist, also takes Nora. Later, a wistful Henry falls asleep dreaming only of his loving wife. "The River Journey" deals with love, death, and the quest for companionship that will stand the test of time.

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"This is pure Nathan: smooth, unpretentious, dove-colored writing, the satire gentle, the fantasy controlled."
– John Woodburn, Saturday Review of Literature


About the Author:
Author of such revered books as PORTRAIT OF JENNIE, THE BISHOP’S WIFE, THE RIVER JOURNEY, and STONECLIFF, Robert Nathan was born in New York City in 1894 and was educated at private schools in the United States and Switzerland. While attending Harvard University where he was a classmate with E.E. Cummings, Nathan was an editor of the Harvard Monthly, in which his first stories and poems appeared. While at Cambridge, Nathan also found the time to become an accomplished cellist, a lightweight boxer, and Captain of the fencing team. After leaving college, Mr. Nathan devoted his time exclusively to writing until his passing in 1985. Early on, Nathan’s work strengthened his reputation with both the public and peers. F. Scott Fitzgerald once referred to Robert Nathan as his favorite writer. During this period, the legendary Louis B. Mayer contracted him to Hollywood to become a screenwriter. Nathan ultimately didn’t enjoy the experience, though the movie industry continually craved his work. Five of his novels have been made into films. The aforementioned “Portrait of Jennie” and “The Bishop’s Wife,” as well as “One More Spring,” “Wake Up and Dream” (from the novel “The Enchanted Voyage”) and “Color of Evening.” Robert Nathan was the author of over fifty volumes of novels, poetry, and plays, and from this body of distinguished work he acquired a reputation as a master of satiric fantasy unique in American Letters. In the twilight of his career he was known as “The Dean of Author’s,” since many prominent writers including Irving Stone and Irving Wallace sought out Nathan’s guidance. A member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters for fifty years, Mr. Nathan called both Cape Cod and California home. Happily, his last fifteen years were spent in the companionship of his wife, English born actress, Anna Lee.


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