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Christina Schwarz's suspenseful debut pivots on two of the lost "virtues" of the past: silence and stoicism. Drowning Ruth opens in 1919, on the heels of the influenza epidemic that followed the First World War. Although there were telephones and motor cars and dance halls in the small towns of Wisconsin in those years, the townspeople remained rigid and forbidding. As a young woman, Amanda Starkey, a Lutheran farmer's daughter, had been firmly discouraged from an inappropriate marriage with a neighboring Catholic boy. A few years later, as a nurse in Milwaukee, she is seduced by a dishonorable man. Her shame sends her into a nervous breakdown, and she returns to the family farm. Within a year, though, her beloved sister Mathilde drowns under mysterious circumstances. And when Mathilde's husband, Carl, returns from the war, he finds his small daughter, Ruth, in Amanda's tenacious grip, and she will tell him nothing about the night his wife drowned. Amanda's parents, too, are long gone. "I killed my parents. Had I mentioned that?" muses Amanda.
I killed them because I felt a little fatigued and suffered from a slight, persistent cough. Thinking I was overworked and hadn't been getting enough sleep, I went home for a short visit, just a few days to relax in the country while the sweet corn and the raspberries were ripe. From the city I brought fancy ribbon, two boxes of Ambrosia chocolate, and a deadly gift... I gave the influenza to my mother, who gave it to my father, or maybe it was the other way around.Schwarz is a skillful writer, weaving her grim tale across several decades, always returning to the fateful night of Mathilde's death. Drowning Ruth displays her gift for pacing and her harsh insistence on the right ending, rather than the cheery one. --Regina Marler --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Not recommended as a light bit of beach reading, but a definite must for people who like delving deep into the souls of those they read about.
Oprah's Book Club always come through! This was a great novel and I thoroughly enjoyed the read.Published 1 day ago by Aubeysgram
The complexities of Amanda, Mathilde and Ruth are artfully portrayed in this beautifully written novel. A plot - heavy story, this dark tale calls for more development. Read morePublished 7 days ago by Jean DeStefano
I would say this is not for novice readers. The story jumps from narrator to narrator and also from different time periods, so you have to concentrate and is not what I would call... Read morePublished 15 days ago by mmrbarto
I was almost done with this book (and had to force myself to finish it) before I understood the story. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Lynda Polk
Worst written book I have ever read. Story line was good,but not written well.Published 17 days ago by Betty Wilhite