On a rainy April night in 1917, a passing vagrant sees a young woman fall (or is it jump?) into New York City's Hudson River. He tries to save her, but fails. The police tentatively identify the woman as Lily Canning, twenty-five years old, from Minuit, a town in the Hudson Valley.
But is it Lily? The question torments her mother, Henrietta, as she awaits confirmation. And when it comes, even more anguishing questions arise, for neither accident nor suicide makes sense. Lily could swim like a fish, and with her looks, and wealth, and talent, with an exhibition of her paintings about to open at a prestigious New York gallery, she had everything to live for.
In the days following her drowning, her heartbroken mother, her estranged husband, Edmund, her family, her friends, even the servant girl, Nuala, try to unravel Lily's secrets and to come to terms with the devastating consequences of her loss on their own lives.
Set in New York City and the Hudson River Valley, when the country was poised on the brink of the First World War, "The River, By Moonlight" is a vivid evocation of time and place, and a poignant portrayal of what happens when individual actions and national events collide.
Above all, it is a deeply moving study of grief and despair, of the resilience of human nature, and the triumph of determination and hope.