Book Review: Kiss River by Diane Chamberlain

July 12, 2016 Book review 10 ★★

Warning, rant ahead!

OK, you guys know I LOVE Diane Chamberlain.  I raved about Necessary Lies and The Lost Daughter.  And I’m going to continue loving her and reading all her books despite this rant about Kiss River.  The hate is for a topic that waves a red flag before my eyes as it turned me right off this book.


Book Review: Kiss River by Diane ChamberlainKiss River by Diane Chamberlain
Published by MIRA on January 4th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Emotions & Feelings, Family Life, Historical Fiction, Love & Romance
Pages: 423
Format: Paperback
Source: Library

Your future is within your grasp. How far are you willing to go?
Your adopted child is in an orphanage. Only you can save her. But you need money, a lot of money, money you just don't have.

Gina Higgins is on a desperate journey across the country. To save her daughter, she must find the Kiss River lighthouse that holds the answers she so urgently needs.

But the lighthouse has been destroyed and now her only hope is to uncover the secrets hidden within an old diary, a Second World War love story that has the power to change her life forever ...

Fail Romance


First Line of Kiss River by Diane Chamberlain

“The air conditioner in her aging car was giving out, blowing warm, breath-stealing air into Gina’s face.”


My Thoughts on Kiss River by Diane Chamberlain:


First the good –


  • Interesting characters including a catch up with the characters I loved in Keeper of the Light
  • Fab setting – the lighthouse just lends so much atmosphere to the book
  • Dual timelines – flashbacks to WW2 via diary entries and current day settings.  Both tie in really well together and keep the pace of the book lively and gripping.


Now the bad and why I feel all the rage for A CERTAIN PLOTLINE


If there is one thing I hate it’s the stereotypical image of women who are desperate for a child, so desperate that they’ll do anything.  I’ve been there, I’ve felt that grief (and still do) but I have never once been tempted to do anything immoral.  Like steal your baby or get involved in an illegal adoption.  But if you believed books, that’s what all women in my shoes do.


I love how Diane Chamberlain writes about poignant social issues and I engage so much with her characters.  But rolling out this trope really annoyed me.  We are meant to believe that Gina who is depicted as a strong, compassionate, sensitive woman would do ANYTHING to adopt a child from India.


I have been in Gina’s shoes (after a foreign adoption fell through due to changes in adoption law) and I just can’t match up the choices she made with the way her character was portrayed.  Just because you are yearning to be a mother doesn’t mean that your better judgement and your compassion has upped and left the room.  I’m sick of the one-dimensional characterisation; it’s lazy and stereotypical and I just want to say enough already.


I would have loved if this story had gone down the road of Gina’s life learning to live childfree after a failed adoption.  The pain, the all consuming thoughts, learning to accept and redefining who you are.  That to me would be a lot more realistic and relatable.  Infertility already has enough secrecy and shame surrounding it, this type of plot just adds insult to injury.


OK rant over.


Rating Report
Did I feel it?
Overall: two-stars


Who should read Kiss River by Diane Chamberlain?


I can’t in all honesty recommend this one as I’m too mad.  Instead maybe try book 1 – Keeper of the Light – I really enjoyed that and wish I had wrapped up the series there.


Talk to Trish: Do you have a trope that puts you right off books as it affects you in a personal way?






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10 Responses to “Book Review: Kiss River by Diane Chamberlain”

    • trish

      It’s a sore point for me but every time a character like this is depicted in a book or a tv series or a film, they are crazy! I’m so tired of this.

  1. Rita

    Oh my. I understand where you are coming from. I do have 3 children but I also had 3 miscarriages. I guess the author was looking for a sensationalized plot, rather than a realistic one. I don’t even understand the blurb, but since I’m not going to pick it up it doesn’t matter. Her child is adopted and in an orphanage and she has to find something at a lighthouse that is no longer there? Maybe I’m dense but I think that would’ve put me off picking this up anyway. I like blurbs and covers that pull me in.

    You asked what tropes made us annoyed. Hmm… well, I won’t knowingly pick up any story about a character with Asperger’s Syndrome (high functioning autism) as one of my children is affected by this, and the little I’ve read in & about fiction just doesn’t get it right. They stereotype the characters and it doesn’t help people understand correctly what it is to live with it. The autistic spectrum is long and varied, and no one’s condition is black & white, only shades of grey. This subject ticks me off. Thanks for letting me share.
    Rita recently posted…Pics From Granddaughter Visit So Far

    • trish

      The blurb is confusing! The character wants to adopt a child from India, and is going down a shady route for this. And the lighthouse ties is as it holds a secret that she can exploit for cash. It all just annoyed me so much.

      And I can understand your feelings on Asperger’s depiction. I had thought that after I read The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night Time that I had a feel for this syndrome. But now I understand from your various comments that that’s just one tiny picture of one person on the spectrum. I think it’s great that we do see characters like this in literature but it’s important that they are not stereotyped as that is helpful for no one.

  2. Christy LoveOfBooks

    I totally understand why this would piss you off. I mean, there are definitely woman out there that do go through extremes (even murder & kidnapping) to get a child, but it’s definitely not the norm. They’re usually mentally unstable to begin with. I’m not even fully understanding what this book is about, but I probably don’t need to at this point. 😉
    Christy LoveOfBooks recently posted…The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

    • trish

      The blurb is confusing! The character wants to adopt a child from India, and is going down a shady route for this. And the lighthouse ties is as it holds a secret that she can exploit for cash. It all just annoyed me so much.

      And yes people who do stuff like this are not the norm but every time this theme comes in books/movies/tv series, the woman is always crazy! And I’m tired of it.

  3. Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library

    I do hate when infertility and adoption are misrepresented because it’s such a painful and sensitive issue for so many people. I once read a book where the woman (who was single which would have been a big no go) adopted a baby from Kazakhstan by simply meeting a nun at the airport in the US and having the baby and some paperwork shoved at her. I had just had a friend who had adopted a baby from the same country and it cost untold amounts of money, tons of screening and she and her husband had to spend 6 weeks in the country. I was so angry. In the same book the woman who had some severe issue that caused the infertility was cured because she hooked up with some guy who had “good swimmers” (direct quote from the OB/GYN). I read this book years ago and I’m still angry. I think I’ll definitely give this book a miss!
    Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library recently posted…James Bond: Live and Let Die – Book vs Movie

    • trish

      It drives me mad Katherine when you read something and know from personal experience just how unlikely it is. It makes me lose faith in the research that the author has done, even allowing for poetic licence, it still needs to ring somewhat true. That book sounds like it should be filled under Fairy Tales 😀

  4. Rachel

    Ahh, I wondered what the stereotype was that annoyed you. Have you read many novels or non-fiction books that better cover the issue? Covering both situations where a woman doesn’t have children by choice, as well as circumstance? I’d love a good recommendations list for those topics. It’s something I’ve been increasingly thinking about, and a topic that is relevant to me at the minute (I have two very close friends who are unlikely to have children due to circumstance, and I find myself questioning if I want children, assuming I can have them). Very difficult and complex subject matters! R xx
    Rachel recently posted…Review: Jam and Roses

    • trish

      I haven’t read any Rachel that explore the issue well from either of the angles you mention. There is another well worn trope where the person who isn’t sure she wants kids, eventually does due to her ticking biological clock. And that totally ignores all those who make a deliberate, well thought out choice and are happy with that choice. I don’t think either of our situations are well represented at all.
      And I’m sure that’s a difficult decision to make so good luck with it. If only we had a crystal ball to see what the right thing to do is! Do you follow Rosemary McCabe, she has a YouTube video recently about how she is currently in the same situation.

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