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The Poker Girls Reading Group on The Patience of Rivers

The Poker Girls are five good friends who meet in Sullivan County, New York once a month for creative dinners and delicious writing. They chose The Patience of Rivers because of its local setting, the portrayal of the late '60s time period, and the lure of the Woodstock Festival. One of the members hosts meetings at her house just down the road from the original Woodstock Festival site.

Do the Poker Girls play poker? Nope – their husbands do on the same night as their meetings, and they claim to be spending their time in a more worthwhile manner. Here's what they have to say about The Patience of Rivers:

Eileen: Joe Freda’s brilliant coming-of-age novel transcends the genre. Though it centers on Nick Lauria, a likeable 18-year-old in a small upstate town in 1969, the book packs everything of life in it: war and peace, love and regret, joy and death. Not to mention Woodstock, the well-endowed Van Vooren sisters, attempted murder, the moon landing, Gypsies, and the funniest boat sinking ever recorded.

At a time when so much of the culture is bent on irony, The Patience of Rivers is a much-needed antidote: a reminder of the clear-eyed innocence we once felt, once upon a time.

Alice: I loved The Patience of Rivers; couldn't put it down. Joe Freda has captured the "feeling" of being young. It took me back to that summer of Woodstock when our innocence turned into "sex, love, and rock n' roll"!

At the same time, he is a keen observer of nature; his river becomes ours. His sights, his sounds, his smells are delivered to us in a voice without pretension.

Ginny: Joe Freda's story flows like the river. He's captured a tumultuous time in history and in our lives with thoughtful insight. I laughed out loud and cried too. If you were growing up in the sixties, you can't help but be drawn back in time and into the lives of the folks of Delaware Ford. It's a book to savor and share too, with friends who lived it, parents who endured it, and children who ask about it.

And I agree with Eileen on the sincerity of the book. As Robert Altman said, "Real art is without irony. Irony distances the author from his material... Irony is a cheap shot."


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