cover image River of Sky

River of Sky

Karen Harper. Dutton Books, $21.95 (416pp) ISBN 978-0-525-93822-4

Imagine Kate Craig's surprise and disillusionment when, at the funeral of her husband, a St. Louis riverboat captain and Indian trader of the early 19th century, she learns that he had another wife, a Mandan Indian named Blue Wing. Kate forms a fast friendship with the woman, however, inviting Blue Wing to move in with her and her son. With the strength that her first real female friendship brings, she gradually picks up the pieces of her life, revives her husband's riverboat trade and becomes romantically involved with a passionate half-breed. Each woman helps the other in times of need and each teaches the other about her own culture. Despite a potentially engaging scenario and admirable themes of interracial harmony and sisterhood, Harper's ( The Wings of Morning ) prose is marred by cliches. Her considerable research into Jacksonian America provides engrossing verisimilitude, however, and interesting plot twists should keep readers engrossed. First serial to Good Housekeeping. (Aug.)