The River Beneath The River

Christmas is, as they say, right around the corner. As soon as the turkey went in the oven on Thanksgiving day (maybe even sooner), the radio was abuzz with Christmas songs, every major department store was bombarding consumers with a huge ad campaign and most talk shows were sharing tips with their viewers on how to keep off the holiday pounds. Whether you celebrate Christmas or think it’s just a huge marketing device, there is no denying that the lights and wreaths of downtown Hamilton add a little something to the days that are consumed with tests, papers and studying. Susan Tabin’s newly released book The River Beneath The River is an easy read that reminds us all that there is more to life than just marking off days on a calendar. Described as “a novel of the awakening spirit,” The River Beneath The River is the story of one woman’s search for her true identity and her true soul. Set in the 1960s in New York City and then in Europe, the main character, Darci Beriman, sets out on a journey to “find herself.” In the meantime, she confronts her past, her present and her future and learns to embrace life both physically and spiritually through the teachings of a Greek religious guru. Very spiritual in both tone and content, Tabin’s novel is not an everyday coming-of-age story. Darci Beriman’s escape from her confining life in a New York City tenement, to the Greek isles of her grand-parents youth, takes the reader on a trip across the world ending in the discovery of self. Meeting people from all around the globe and embracing new cultures, Darci’s “abroad experience” in the ’60’s is probably pretty similar to ones that many Colgate students have today. She travels throughout Europe, meeting fascinating people, and finally finding where her passion lies – in the art world. While the storyline for this novel may seem like it has been done before, the twists in the plot make the book anything but clich?e. It isn’t long before Darci has an affair with a long time friend who recently became separated from his wife. Their romance is not described in much detail and is somewhat dismissed as just two lonely people seeing each other at the wrong time. However, the true identity of Darci’s lover is eventually released, adding a whole new dimension to the novel. Since the book is written as a sort of faux memoir, everything the reader experiences is through Darci’s eyes. At times, this perfectly suits her story, but at points, there is a lack of depth within the plot of the book. Her character is not always fully described enough for the reader to believe everything she says or does. Also, her obviously profound religious experience with a Greek mentor is never developed to the point where the reader understands exactly what Darci’s faith is. Whether Darci ever truly renounces her Jewish faith is not entirely conveyed through the pages of the book, though it is apparent that she is more interested in mysticism than any orthodox religion. However, even without these specifics, it is abundantly clear that Darci is an extremely devout and faithful woman who, as she puts it, sees “the Light” in everything.As a young girl Darci Beriman’s mother told her that Santa Claus was, “a figment of the Christian imagination, like Jesus.” The novel ends with Darci taking her adopted African children to see Santa at the New York Macy’s and explaining to them the story of Miracle on 34th Street. She relates the movie to her children as the story of a Macy’s Santa being put on trial as a fraud and found to be the real thing. However, it’s not the principle of whether God, Jesus, or Santa Claus exists that is the point of this novel, but rather what we choose to get out of life – or not. Susan Tabin’s The River Beneath the River examines the general concept of faith and the idea that, yes ,Virginia, you may be able to believe in something that you can not actually see.