The Whisper of the River

Sams, Ferrol

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack
  • Date of entry: Jan-30-1997


This bittersweet and very funny novel tells the tale of Porter Osborn, Jr. from the time he leaves his home in a small Georgia town to attend Willingham University, until he completes college and is about to begin medical school. Even though he has been "raised right" in the Baptist faith, young Porter confronts his new environment with energy, pride, skepticism, and mischievous delight.

This picaresque novel introduces us to Bob Cater, Michael Jurkiedyk, Vashti Clemmons, Clarence Spangler, and a host of other fascinating characters who populate Sambo's (Osborn's nickname) college years. This is the old story of a young man finding himself. "Full of outrageous pranks and ribald humor," as the endnote proclaims, yet "we sense a quiet constant flow toward maturity."


Ferrol Sams is a family physician in Fayetteville, Georgia. The Whisper of the River is the second of a trilogy of novels that describe the life of Porter Osborn, Jr. from early childhood through medical school at Emory University and his service in World War II. This is thinly veiled autobiographical fiction. Sams is a master storyteller: you can almost hear the tone of his voice as he spins these long, convoluted yarns of incipient love and breathtaking disaster in a small southern university in the late 1930's. The Whisper of the River, like Sams's other books, is more a series of delightful episodes than a well-plotted, coherent novel.



Place Published

New York