Customer Reviews


566 Reviews
5 star:
 (191)
4 star:
 (174)
3 star:
 (105)
2 star:
 (57)
1 star:
 (39)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


248 of 258 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An engrossing psychological thriller!
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel -- from its memorable, engaging first sentence ("Ruth remembered drowning." How could *that* be?) to its quietly poignant final scene. The plot centers on a mystery of family secrets surrounding Ruth's murky memory. Along the way to its resolution, the author develops a psychologically sophisticated portrait of a family living in...
Published on August 1, 2000

versus
102 of 117 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing new
Yet again, based on glowing reviews, I bought this book and staggered through 338 pages trying to determine specifically why it's been so lauded.
While the writing is just fine, crisp and tidy, and the characters are well wrought, there's really nothing new here. Certainly, there are no surprises. The book begins in 1919 and ends in 1941. I don't know why. There are...
Published on November 7, 2000 by Charlotte Vale-Allen


‹ Previous | 1 257 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

248 of 258 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An engrossing psychological thriller!, August 1, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Drowning Ruth (Hardcover)
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel -- from its memorable, engaging first sentence ("Ruth remembered drowning." How could *that* be?) to its quietly poignant final scene. The plot centers on a mystery of family secrets surrounding Ruth's murky memory. Along the way to its resolution, the author develops a psychologically sophisticated portrait of a family living in rural Wisconsin during World War I. Time, place and the personalities of some wonderful, idiosyncratic characters are presented in rich detail. This book reminded me of two personal favorites of recent years. Like *Snow Falling on Cedars*, it is densely atmospheric. The lay of the land and the vagaries of the weather become important elements in the story; the effect is to transport the reader into a vividly imagined world. Like *Anywhere But Here*, this book is eloquent in its portrayal of intensely ambivalent relationships among women: between sisters; between mothers and daughters. Drowning Ruth should appeal to fans of many genres: family drama; historical novel; mystery and psychological thriller, to name a few. I recommend it most highly!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


165 of 174 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now featured on my personal Top Ten list . . ., August 11, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Drowning Ruth (Hardcover)
I rarely send in reviews of books, but "Drowning Ruth" moved me to add my voice to the crowd. This is by far the most interesting and engrossing novel i have read in a very long time. I love it when I find myself sinking into the story, into the characters, and that is exactly the feeling I got when reading this novel. The writing is so good that it carried me away, to another place altogether, to a cold Wisconsin lake in the winter. Christina Schwarz paints such a compelling picture of the sisters' relationship that I felt almost a part of the scene. In fact, all of her characters are so vivid that i feel as though I would recognize them walking down the street. And the story itself is a page-turner. Anyway, BUY IT!! READ IT!!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


106 of 115 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous Pacing, August 10, 2003
By 
Alan Cambeira "author of Azucar's Trilogy" (Dominican Republic, author of Tattered Paradise...Azucar's Trilogy Ends) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Drowning Ruth: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club) (Paperback)
DROWNING RUTH is deceptively clever. What seems initially like the conventional, usually predictable murder yarn turns out actually being a meticulously crafted story of considerable artistic merit. The circumstances of the drowning of Ruth's mother serves as the catalyst that precipitates an intriguing flow of interrelated events in the lives of Amanda (the drowned woman's sister) and her niece Ruth. Christina Schwarz is a wonderfully talented writer who has woven a rather intricate tale of psychological suspense. There are many engrossing trwists and digressions (but quite necessary) in this very emotional marrative. The mystery is sustained throughout because the reader, as if carefully and thoughtfully fitting together all the jagged pieces of a puzzle, learns in successive chapters what actually occurred that particular wintry night so long ago in the past of both Amanda and Ruth. The writer does a marvelous job in pacing the delicate unravelling of the knitting. This is a thoroughly enjoyable thriller.
I recommend this book very highly.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


102 of 117 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing new, November 7, 2000
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Yet again, based on glowing reviews, I bought this book and staggered through 338 pages trying to determine specifically why it's been so lauded.
While the writing is just fine, crisp and tidy, and the characters are well wrought, there's really nothing new here. Certainly, there are no surprises. The book begins in 1919 and ends in 1941. I don't know why. There are no definitive period details that set the era for us (aside from brief mentions of corsets and hair bobbing). No one seems to suffer any of the ill effects that so many suffered in that period between the two world wars. It's a tale, often told, of history repeating itself. Everything is telegraphed, so that one expects exactly what is delivered. The character of Amanda, whose voice is predominant throughout, is so irritating that it's difficult to be sympathetic. And her niece, Ruth, who starts out an interesting, quirky and determined child who often thinks how wonderful it would be to have her own store (a lovely touch), deteriorates in the latter part of the book into a variation on a theme of Amanada and ultimately is just as irritating as her aunt.
The secondary characters, Ruth's father, Carl, and the farm help, Rudy, are more interesting and sympathetic. But the author disposes of Carl about midway through the tale (and doesn't mention him again until the final few pages; and Rudy is merely retired off without ever being allowed any significant input--despite the fact that he's featured throughout the book). From that point on the narrative lumbers to its very predictable conclusion. As a first novel, it's a solid effort, but it suffers from a lack of oxygen. It's like spending a very long evening in a dimly lit room, on an uncomfortable sofa, with people you've just met, who are not gifted in the art of conversation. You can't wait to get outside and gulp down fresh air.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Plan to stay up all night reading 'Drowning Ruth'., September 18, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Drowning Ruth (Hardcover)
What a great story! There are so many levels to this book. At the most basic; it's a powerfully engaging mystery that keeps you turning the pages way past midnight. But beyond that it's a totally engaging story about family relationships, love, and the power of secrets. Watch out for how the author peels back the layers of secrecy with simply placed statements that one by one reveal the truth as you learn more and more about the complex characters that populate this great first novel.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking for a good book to read? Check out Drowning Ruth, April 25, 2001
Once again Oprah has done a fantastic job in assigning her name to a new author. Christina Schwaz does an excellent job in her debut novel. The novel takes place during World War I (1914-1918); as the novel unravels so do the deeply rooted secrets of this mid western family.
Amanda, the big sister, gets dispatched from the war because she's incapable to carry out her nursely duties. She goes back home and moves in with her younger sister, Mattie and her child Ruth. Mattie's husband is serving in the war, so Amanda takes over and loves having her sister and baby all to herself. By the time the war ends, some devastating events take place - Mattie drowns, Amanda raises Ruth, and Mattie's husband Carl returns. Carl raises some questions when he gets back - What happened to my wife and how did she drown? Christina takes us through Ruth's coming of age, her friendships and her consciousness on how her Mom drowned. This is a page-turner that keeps you begging for answers until the very end.
It makes one think about secrets. Do you have any secrets that affect other people? Should you tell your secrets, or let destiny unravel them for you?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine first novel, November 15, 2000
By 
Skimming through the more recent reviews of the book, it occurs to me that many have approached the novel in a similar fashion to those who go see Charlie's Angels expecting a film worthy of Oscar contention. These folks, of course, leave disappointed; the movie is funny and has great action sequences, but it's not much more. Similarly, Drowning Ruth is a well-written novel replete with well developed characters. But it's not a period piece nor is it a mystery. Those who wish to gain insight into early 20th century America will be disappointed, those who are looking for a suspensful thriller will be disappointed. C'mon. It's an Oprah book. And that means one thing -- it's going to be about feeeeeelings. It's one of Oprah's better selections, though. I found the characters to be engaging and the relationships between them real and accessible. The novel was well-paced and thoughtful -- an enjoyable read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


49 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Intriguing First Novel, October 15, 2000
The first page of Drowning Ruth is so provocative and full of impending doom, that it will pull you into the story and keep you turning pages to the very end. Set in rural Wisconsin and spanning the time between World Wars I and II, the story, narrated by the two main characters, Ruth and her Aunt Amanda, begins with the late night drowning of Ruth's mother, on a cold November evening. This event causes a chain reaction of secrets, lies, betrayals and deceit that follows the characters through this story, changing all their lives forever. Ms Schwarz has written an intriguing first novel, full of great characters and riveting scenes, with enough twists and turns to keep you off balance and guessing. The real strength of this book is her eloquent writing and attention to detail as the story moves back and forth between the fateful night of the drowning and the present. The only real weakness to this novel is its rather hurried, predictable and anti-climactic ending. After such a tense and compelling story, the ending was a bit of a let-down. That said, Drowning Ruth is a very good first effort and I look forward to reading Christina Schwarz's future works.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Terrific Book, August 8, 2000
By 
Irwin "M.A.Melson" (Los Angeles, California USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Drowning Ruth (Hardcover)
In this remarkable first novel, Christina Schwarz brings to life a woman on the verge - of a mental breakdown that might destroy her family; of a new economy that might free her from the confining social mores of the day; and of the impending fall of the house of cards she has created by a lifetime of selfish and secret choices. This novel grabs not through surprising plot twists and tricks, although plot aplenty there is, but by creating engaging, complex characters whose fate the reader simply must know. Mandy, the protagonist, is sympathetic yet scary, a victim of social constraints but so intensely narcissistic that she just may be capable of evil. She can taste the liberation of the post-WWI boom, with its demand for women's labor and its promise of mobility, but she is stuck, physically and emotionally, in her rural small town. The suspense is unraveled slowly, and Schwarz offers abundant clues along the way. The mystery will not be solved until the last page, of course, but Schwarz shuns red herrings for the more satisfying confusion of abundant evidence, which like in real life often points in different directions. Subtle, intelligent, and evocative, this novel is the best I've read in some time.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very compelling tale, November 9, 2000
Drowning Ruth is a beautifully written story, with a plot that will have you on the edge of your seat. The way in which Schwarz unravels her tale could be likened to William Faulkner. Each chapter revealed a new layer in the plot, and I relished every one. I found myself concocting many possibilities for Ruth's drowning; it was only at the end that I could fully comprehend what happened - I can't say that about many books I read. The raw emotion I felt reading the ending of the book therefore felt real, not "manufactured" or sentimental.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 257 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Drowning Ruth: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club)
Drowning Ruth: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club) by Christina Schwarz (Paperback - July 31, 2001)
$15.00 $9.89
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.