The River by Starlight

Author: Notbohm, Ellen

Publication Date:

May 2018



Territories Handled

France, Netherlands, Scandinavia


Historical Fiction

The River by Starlight

Author: Notbohm, Ellen


Graceful and unflinching…this deeply felt tale delivers a vivid and unflinching look at postpartum depression, marriage, love, and death in the early 1900s. —KIRKUS

Magical storytelling …With intimate and poetic language reminiscent of Paulette Jiles and Marisa de los Santos, Notbohm demonstrates that loss and fragility often exist alongside strength and bliss— Booklist

Captivating… vivid language… the writing is exquisite…weaves heartache and redemption together to illuminate the power of love in life’s darkest moments. — Foreword *****

Ellen Notbohm weaves a mesmerizing story with beautiful prose. The story moves from hopeful to devastating many times. A marriage is portrayed with all its ups and downs: jealousy, love, passion, fights, and reconciliations. But when mental illness takes over, it becomes more that any couple can weather. For women with mental illness prior to modern-day medicine, ignorance and social stigma dictated their treatment. They were often hidden away in asylums. This novel reminds us of how the issue of postpartum depression, as much a reality of the past as it is now, profoundly affects both men and women. —Historical Novel Society

Filled with vivid characters and descriptions, heartache, loss and the healing power of love, The River by Starlight is a tribute to so many women who were treated unjustly and who managed to find their way and survive. Bravo, Ellen Notbohm! Kris Radishbestselling author of A Dangerous Woman from Nowhere

…masterfully weaves the story of Annie and Adam Fielding, two star-crossed people who come together in an attempt to bring forth life on an early 20th-century farm in Montana. Rich with beautiful prose stitched together with authentic, shimmering dialogue and a love story that leaves you aching, Ellen Notbohm’s debut novel is sure to stun. —Michelle Cox, award-winning author of the Henrietta and Inspector Howard series

A ten for voice and originality . . . some of the best dialogue I’ve read . . . a voice that held me spellbound and a story that kept me turning the page. — Elizabeth Lyon, author of Manuscript Makeover and six other writing books

A wonderful novel in so many ways―the writing, the rich characters, the ambitious undertaking . . . sentences that transport me; perfect polished jewels and many sharp, almost clattering, observations. I want to pick some of them up and stroke and hug them. And I loved it for its geography, as vivid as Ivan Doig’s The Whistling Season, and its circumstances, as beautifully elaborated as in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. — Judy Klein, Kleinworks Agency

There is nothing I didn’t love about this book. The language is exquisite, a mixture of steel and silk―the narrative voice uncannily powerful and sure, yet tender. The story will grow tendrils around your heart, squeezing it until you can barely breathe. It’s the story of one woman’s tragic and puzzling mental frailty, but more, it is a love story, and a heart-rending study of the forced redefining of family. Trenchant dialogue and lyrical prose reveal the very soul of the unforgettable characters in this book. Recommended to any reader with a heart. — Laurel Davis Huber, award-winning author of The Velveteen Daughter

Heart-wrenching yet hopeful, The River by Starlight is a compelling and beautifully written debut novel. — Ashley E. Sweeney, award-winning author of Eliza Waite

Moving away from unsettling pasts and thrown together by circumstance, Montana homesteaders Annie Rushton and Adam Fielding are bound by a potent chemistry they don’t recognize as love. Against a backdrop of economic boom and bust, catastrophic climate events and war, they marry hopefully and prosper but briefly, overtaken by personal and natural disaster dominated by Annie’s episodic post-partum psychosis. One will meet the challenge with unforgettable resilience. One will be broken by it.

Despite iron nerve and determination, Annie’s periods of depthless depression and violent episodes shatter her life and extract a terrible price. As the town she calls home turns against her, her allies and options are few, forcing her into the only treatment available: involuntary commitment to the State Hospital for the insane. From there, Annie begins her tenacious quest for control over her destiny as a woman, mother, and lover. A century-old story as relevant as ever to women today, The River by Starlight reaches across the years with a compelling message for our own time: that healing and reconciliation can emerge from devastating emotional and financial wreckage.

An internationally renowned author, Ellen Notbohm’s work has informed and delighted millions in more than twenty languages. In addition to her award-winning books on autism, her articles and columns on such diverse subjects as history, genealogy, baseball, writing and community affairs have appeared in major publications and captured audiences on every continent. A lifelong resident of Oregon, Ellen is an avid genealogist, knitter, beachcomber, and thrift store hound who has never knowingly walked by a used bookstore without going in and dropping coin. The River by Starlight is her first novel.

Marketing Information

  • Winner of the 2018 IPPY Gold Medal in Regional Fiction
  • Sarton Women’s Book Awards, Historical Fiction
  • Western Writers of America, Best First Novel
  • First in Category, Goethe Award for Historical Fiction, Chanticleer International Book Awards
  • Grand Prize Short List, Eric Hoffer Book Award
  • First runner-up, Eric Hoffer Book Award for Historical Fiction
  • Finalist, Western Writers of America, Traditional Novel
  • Finalist Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Regional Fiction
  • Gold Medal: 2018 Independent Publisher Book Awards, Best Regional Fiction, West-Mountain
  • Finalist, Nancy Pearl Award for Genre Fiction, Pacific Northwest Writers Association
  • Finalist, High Plains Book Award for General Fiction
  • Finalist, National Indie Excellence Book Award for Regional Fiction – West
  • Finalist, Chatelaine Award for Romantic and Women’s Fiction, Chanticleer International Book Awards
  • Finalist, Eric Hoffer Book Awards, da Vinci Eye Award for superior cover artwork
  • Semifinalist, Somerset Award for Literary Fiction, Chanticleer International Book Awards