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Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite
Downriver: A Tale of Moving Pictures Before Hollywood by Evan Anderson is a historical novel that follows the life of Anne Blackstone, a woman who witnessed the birth of the movie industry, working behind the scenes at a time before Hollywood. She lost her father in a barge explosion and, when her mother died, Anne was sent to live in an orphanage run by the church ladies whom she’d grow to detest, which is why she escaped from the home and joined a travelling crew. She would later join a touring motion picture exhibitor and learn the art of directing. Before the advent of motion pictures, Anne was already part of the industry, and this novel follows her incredible journey from the orphanage to the life of a movie director and the challenges she had to overcome.
I felt that the novel is well-researched, featuring a compelling cast of characters. I took a quick liking to the protagonist and was just so curious about what she’d become. The author demonstrates strong storytelling skills, arousing a keen sense of empathy in the reader as they follow the protagonist through her misfortunes into her newfound freedom. Anne is a compelling character who comes across to readers as motivated and strong-willed. It is interesting to see her fighting to create her own world. The scenes are well-crafted, with the points of view coming out neatly. Evan Anderson’s prose is beautiful and it is punctuated by vivid descriptions and great dialogues. Downriver: A Tale of Moving Pictures Before Hollywood is a gripping story that explores the origins of the movie industry with characters that are as memorable as they are realistic.