When you read "All the Rivers Run", you become convinced that you are reading a biography, because the people, places and events seem so real. You may have seen the TV production, which is available on DVD; although the filmed version is fine, it is a simplification of the book.
The story is in three parts - originally the parts were issued as separate books - and cover Delie's life from a twelve year old orphan through to her married life as a mother, and finally as a middle-aged woman, with occasional focus on her children.
The book parallels the existence of a river to the life of a woman - its early life as a young spring bubbling excitedly, then its broad, deep, steady movement, and finally a release into the sea where the cycle is complete. The river plays a large part in the story, as Philadelphia Gordon lives by it, or on it, as she becomes an artist, and then riverboat captain.
Australia is described in colourful language, and its occupents seem very real. Nancy Cato never shies away from the awful things of life - incest, death in its many forms - wars and concentration camps - infidelity and illness. On the positive side though, we have Delie's triumph through adversity, success as an artist, and as a mother and grandmother.
Those who know the TV movie might be surprised at some of the plot changes - without going into spoiling details, the fate of Adam is rather more mundane than the picturesque events filmed, and there's much, much more that happens to Brenton.
I don't know why exactly this book is so memorable - I've read it about five times - perhaps it is that the descriptions of the Australian continent are thorough, and yet not boring; also the pace of the book is always steadily moving forward, like a riverboat chugging gently down the River Murray....