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The Weight of Water: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Anita Shreve
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (270 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $8.89
You Save: $6.11 (41%)
Sold by: Hachette Book Group

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Book Description

Journeying to Smuttynose Island, off the coast of New Hampshire, to shoot a photo essay about a century-old double murder, a photographer becomes absorbed by the crime and increasingly obsessed with jealousy over the idea that her husband is having an affair.

Editorial Reviews Review

A newspaper photographer, Jean, researches the lurid and sensational ax murder of two women in 1873 as an editorial tie-in with a brutal modern double murder. (Can you guess which one?) She discovers a cache of papers that appear to give an account of the murders by an eyewitness. The plot weaves between the narrative of the eyewitness and Jean's private struggle with jealousies and suspicions as her marriage teeters. A rich, textured novel.

From Publishers Weekly

In 1873, two women living on the Isles of Shoals, a lonely, windswept group of islands off the coast of New Hampshire, were brutally murdered. A third woman survived, cowering in a sea cave until dawn. More than a century later, Jean, a magazine photographer working on a photoessay about the murders, returns to the Isles with her husband, Thomas, and their five-year-old daughter, Billie, aboard a boat skippered by her brother-in-law, Rich, who has brought along his girlfriend, Adaline. As Jean becomes immersed in the details of the 19th-century murders, Thomas and Adaline find themselves drawn together-with potentially ruinous consequences. Shreve (Where or When; Resistance) perfectly captures the ubiquitous dampness of life on a sailboat, deftly evoking the way in which the weather comes to dictate all actions for those at sea. With the skill of a master shipbuilder, Shreve carefully fits her two stories together, tacking back and forth between the increasingly twisted murder mystery and the escalating tensions unleashed by the threat of a dangerous shipboard romance. Written with assurance and grace, plangent with foreboding and a taut sense of inexorability, The Weight of Water is a powerfully compelling tale of passion, a provocative and disturbing meditation on the nature of love. Author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 791 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0316789976
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (May 30, 2009)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000SIIP1A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,206 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
77 of 81 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two Lives, Two Tragedies November 4, 2002
The prequel to "The Last Time They Met," this is by far the better book. It provides a great deal of insight into the character of Thomas, the melancholy and ultimately doomed hero of the latter. And it also poses, I believe, an interesting question: Is tragedy predestined?
It certainly seems so in the two intertwined stories told in this book. The first, based on dual murders that actually took place in the 1800s, is the story of a Norwegian woman who is transplanted to a desolate and uninhabited New England island by her fisherman husband, there to live for many years with little or no human companionship under the harshest of circumstances. Her life is so rigid, so devoid of any tenderness or care, so barren (the fact that she cannot conceive a child is a metaphor for her entire existence) that her ultimate tragedy seems inevitable.
The second story is that of Thomas, a poet whose entire ouvre is limited to one collection of brilliant poems, an outpouring of grief and emotion about his first love, tragically killed in a car accident. Married to a photojournalist, Jean, Thomas seems half a person--desperately trying to regain his art, but in his way as barren as Maren, the lonely Norwegian wife. His only real joy is his and Jean's precocious and adorable 5-year-old daughter, Billie, whose mere existence has kept her parents in their difficult marriage. As Thomas and Billie accompany Jean on a photo assignment that will document the historic facts of the murders that changed a small group of Norwegian immigrants forever, Thomas seems to be unraveling. Situated with the others on a schooner piloted by his brother, Rich, Thomas seems to be a cypher, only alive in brief spurts punctuated by interactions with Billie and Rich's flirtatious girlfriend.
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65 of 69 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Holds your interest, but loses your sympathy June 5, 2001
Having read several other people's reviews of this novel while I was reading it, I generally agree with most of their criticisms. "Weight of Water" has a fascinating premise--a photojournalist goes back to the scene of an 1800's crime in New England in which two women were murdered on an isolated island, while one woman managed to escape. The story shifts back and forth (with little notice to the reader, but the transitions aren't difficult to follow) between the present-day story of Jean, the photojournalist, who is boating to this island with her husband, her brother-in-law and his attractive girlfriend, and her young daughter, and the story of the murder.
Based on true events, the murder is narrated by the survivor, Maren, who wrote a narrative document that Jean pinches from the local historical society. The tension of Maren's story concerns her loveless marriage, her frail (at best) relationships with her sister Karen and her sister-in-law Anethe, and her deep love for her brother Evan.
BOTH stories have the potential to be interesting. I began the novel with high hopes. However, neither story really pays off. For the whodunit to work, there would need to be more tension. You start to suspect the murderer's true identity too early, and ultimately you find that none of the characters in this story are very sympathetic. Plus, a key element to caring about this story is to know more about why Maren adores her brother so much--we get a very veiled hint, and that's about it.
The present-day story also suffers from a lack of sympathetic characters. Jean is interesting, but when her character stumbles (I won't reveal how) late in the novel, the question is WHY she reacts in this manner rather than delving deeper into her problems with her poet husband.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Our Reading Club's First Book Selection November 26, 1999
Having just created a Reading Club with 14 women of diverse backgrounds, ages, and Ethnicity, this book proved to be an excellent choice. Chosen predominantly because of the author's prior work and recommendations from this site, it yielded an invigorating read by sweeping the reader into two different stories set within one novel. Although at times I found the constant transitioning from the current day story to the SmuttyNose Murder story disruptive, I soon realized there was a reason for this style of writing and that perhaps Shreve was trying to lead the reader to some story parallel's. I was quite surprised that so much of the novel involved the actual historical story of the SmuttyNose Murders. I enjoyed this immensely as it kept the reader questioning the outcome of the investigation even centuries later. This book had much discussion material and I would recommend it for a group if interesting and lively discussion is what you are seeking. I look forward to reading more of her works.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Quick and Easy Read! July 18, 2000
This was a very enjoyable book. I read it in about two days. The plot was pretty suspenseful, and the way it was written really hooks you in and makes you want to keep on reading! I liked the historical references and murder-mystery plot, and I found the fictional parts of the novel to be interesting as well. I find the author to be a very good writer and look forward to reading more books by Anita Shreve. If I could change one thing about the book, it would be to make the transition between the fictional character Jean's thoughts and the historical character Maren's tale a bit more seamless. At times the switchover was very choppy and abrupt, without even a change of paragraph. Of course, perhaps the author wrote it this way because she was trying to show how intertwined and tangled-up Jean was becoming in Maren's tale, and how Jean couldn't separate her own emotional angst from the historical character's due to the fact that she identified so closely with her. This book was about love, jealousy, choices, and betrayal (but not in the way that you'd think!). I believe many women would enjoy this book and I recommend it to all.
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