Her brows were black and her face was oval, the brandied eyes spaced gravely, the lips wide and warm with instinctive wisdom, the throat and shoulders golden and fragile above the strapless nubby material of the pale tan linen dress. She half lay on her side, braced on her elbow, both knees drawn up, the skirt fanned over them. Had he never touched her then, she would have remained as in the beginning: remote, and with that slow and lovely enchantment that made all persons soften their voices when they spoke to her. There are good moments and some very bad ones. A mixed cast of American tourists never expected to be trapped together, unable to cross the river that was the next part of their journey. They were all strangers, even the ones who seemed to be travelling together. They didn't really want to get to know each other, but the scorching heat and the stalled river ferry take away the luxury of choice. Under the brutal Mexican sun their personal relationships, their human qualities, their values and dreams are exposed in a way that leaves no excuses. Their lives would never be the same again. In fact, crossing that river was not even to be a journey they would all make...In his most admired novel before the creation of Travis McGee, John D. MacDonald assembles a range of characters who get 'a little time by the river to breathe in the midst of journeying' - only to discover that they are The Damned.
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