A man is riding a bike on a hill.
Close this search box.
A watercolor illustration of a typewriter with a note on it.

The Old River Road by Ivy Rose

by Kellyn Roth |
July 11, 2016

The Old River Road by Ivy Rose

Long Lake Legacy, #1

When seventeen-year-old Clara Boutwell married her dashing coworker, William McDonald, she was convinced her life was near perfect. The journey before them as newlyweds in the great city of Chicago was promising and exciting. But a frightening disease soon takes William in its grip, forcing them to the clean air of the western frontier in a desperate attempt to save his life. But pioneering doesn’t prove to be easy, with miles between neighbors instead of fences. On the eastern Washington prairies, the McDonalds face hardships and trials in a new world where everything is tested, from physical endurance to emotional strength—down to their relationship and faith in the Lord.
This novel tells the incredible true story of Clara and William, the great-great grandparents of the author, in a sweet narrative full of laughter, tears, and the struggles of an early pioneering family. Prepare yourself to share in their experience as you read this account of a pioneer family in Washington state, and see their lasting legacy that has endured into the fifth generation.

Buy on Amazon // Add on Goodreads

I started this book Saturday morning and had finished it before the sun set. I was pleased, although I admit it wasn’t what I expected. I’d heard people compare it to the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder, but I didn’t know they meant it so literally! Like the “Little House” books, this novel is the story of the life of two characters who existed in real life. I found it absolutely fascinating, occasionally tear-jerking, more often light and happy.
The Old River Road is perfect for lovers of historical fiction, adventure, drama, sweet romance, pioneers, faith, and family. I recommend it to readers of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Maud Hart Lovelace, or Gene Stratton Porter, who are, by the way, some of my favorite authors. Besides, you know, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, Jules Verne, Arthur Conon Doyle, etc. Yep … my list of favorite authors is long and ever-increasing. 🙂
One of the most endearing things about The Old River Road was that it was perfectly appropriate for readers of all ages. I’d hand it to my nine-year-old brother without a second thought. Not that he’d like it (he’s not a fan of books with romance in them, even if it is sweet and straightforward with no mushy scenes!), but it’d be perfectly all right for him to read it. I have no concerns on that point.
You’re praising it so highly! You must have given it five stars! you say.
Well, I didn’t. Although this is an amazing book – original writing style, easy to get into, very sweet, very inspiring – there are a few problems I’d like to bring up in way of constructive criticism. (Because positive reviews are amazing, but they don’t really help anything but the author’s self-esteem) (I’m rereading this and seeing that I’m a huge cynic, but oh, well …)
First, the writing could have used a wee, wee bit of polishing here and there. Not much, but just a little. I felt, occasionally, like the plot and characters needed more drive. In a classic, this doesn’t bother me, but in a modern book, even if it’s meant to have a classic feel, there should be more of a plot structure (see).
Also, I didn’t really understand the title. There was very little about the ‘old river road.’ Like, a couple paragraphs, really. There wasn’t much about it at all. I think perhaps it was meant to be like Clara (love that name, by the way) wanted to live along the river all along … but it wasn’t mentioned before [SPOILER] they started living there. [END OF SPOILER]
At first, I thought Clara’s main goal was to get out west … but that didn’t seem to be incredibly important to her. More focus on this would have been nice. Once she got out west, it was hard to see what was driving her at all. William was even more of a puzzle to me.
However, William and Clara were adorable. I really enjoyed their relationship. 🙂
Well, that’s about all I have to say about this novel for now. Go pick up a copy! It’s definitely worth it. 🙂


0.5/5, almost-no-details descriptions of childbirth. Not a big deal. Wouldn’t bug me to give it to a small child.


4/5 stars. A good story that could use a little work … but not much! (Now, having read it twice more, I’d give it more like 4.5.)

~Kellyn Roth~

About the Author

Ivy Rose is an (almost) 18 year old history lover and literary enthusiast. Aside from writing, she enjoys being outdoors, chocolate, travelling, reading, and ATVing (preferably if there is mud involved). She resides with her family of 9 on the banks of the Long Lake in eastern Washington.

Her Blog and Website: http://lakesidepublications.com/

What do you think of my thoughts?

22 Responses

  1. Ooh, sounds interesting! So, was there any real reason why she was heading West or was there…not? It sounds good though, and I’m glad the romance was sweet and adorable and all that good stuff. I might read this one…I especially like that it was about real people. I wonder if the people it was about left a journal of some sort or if the author just went off of stories and what people remembered…?

        1. Oh, okay. I was wondering because on Goodreads it says it was published July 8th, 2016. Is that a mistake or was it really published….five days ago?

              1. I know what you mean. Like, someone says something, and you’re like, “Whaaaa?” and then they explain it in detail and you’re like, “Oh!” and … wow, I’ve responded to too many comments too quickly. I’m getting weird. XD

    1. There was definitely a reason; her husband became ill and he needed fresh air and sunshine. And, yes, the author said at the back of the book that she based it mostly off a journal she had of her great-great-great-grandparent’s.

      1. I’m not sure if I count that as I reason for travelling to the West because that would be really hard to do with someone who was ill. But I guess it’s based on a true story, so… And that’s cool! I bet that journal would be interesting to read.

            1. I don’t think either of my parents kept journals. I wish they had … I should start keeping one for my children’s sake. And my grandchildren and great-grandchildren, etc. etc.

              1. Only my dad did, and I think I’ve gone a bit too far with the keeping-a-journal-for-posterity thing…I have over 10 journals that are filled already…although some of them are pretty small, so…

                1. When I kept a journal (a while ago) my average entry would be “woke up, ate breakfast, did school, ate lunch, played outside, ate dinner, watched TV, went to bed.” Of course, I was about seven then. And I did write faithfully EVERY SINGLE NIGHT for several years. And then if I missed a night, I’d write it the next night … it was weird. XD

What do you think of my thoughts?

Follow my blog

Want to receive notifications of new posts? Let\'s make this happen!

Join 1,618 other subscribers