The book focuses on Dr. James Delany; a New York city doctor during the Great Depression. Dr. Delany is alone due to circumstances surrounding his return from World War I. His only companions are the city of New York and the people of New York he knows through his work. Dr. Delany's life changes when his daughter leaves his grandson almost literally on his doorstep. The addition of his grandson, and a woman named Rose who comes to help with the boy, begin to open Dr. Delany's life to the joys of living.
The story flows through the opening up of Dr. Delany's life. The plot never comes to one climatic moment. Instead, the the threads of the narrative, like the threads of Delany's life, are brought together in the gentle flowing prose of the story. Hamill's language also brings forth a New York that no longer exists. In doing so, the people and places of the Lower Westside become characters almost as important as James Delany.
A desire to discover some good modern fiction, and a love of New York City, led me to purchase North River. I am glad I did and look forward to reading more of Hamill's books that take place in a bygone New York City.