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on April 17, 2011
This was one of the best stories I have read in a long time. So often an avid reader can predict where a story is going by the middle of the book-but Christina Schwarz really does a wonderful job of weaving a web that you just can't put all the pieces together until the last few pages.
The story takes place in Wisconsin and begins with Amanda, who is a nurse in the early 1920's, experiencing difficulties focusing on her patients at the hospital where she works. This is viewed as odd by her co-workers as she has always been viewed as a "natural" at her profession and well regarded by all. But suddenly she isn't coping, and she is unable to focus, and soon is becoming ill, and sleeping all the time on the job. The Dr. she reports to suggests she take some "time off" and visit her family back on the farm--he attributes her troubles to having recently lost both her Father and Mother. So off she goes, home to the farm and to her sister Mattie whose husband is fighting in the war, and her toddler niece, Ruth. This is where the journey begins and the deceit starts.........

I would recommend this book--it's a real page turner. I for one will be reading more of Christina Schwarz.
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VINE VOICEon November 5, 2010
Christina Schwarz has worked very hard indeed to create her bestselling novel, "Drowning Ruth." A light epic novel that carries a family over the course of a quarter century starting from just before the first world war through the start of the second world war. All of our central characters are female: two sisters, a daughter, a local friend who becomes close to the daughter and the haunting consequences of life, never brought on by sin or by vengence but rather the typical difficulties of life.The plot is one that unfolded for me within the first seventy pages and held no surprises for me, though as a writer myself my current book utilizes a similar technique. Besides, given honest, caring human condition, the story really could not have unfolded any other way. In regard to plot and heart break, I compare it to McCullough's "The Thorn Birds". In regard to the beauty of each crafted sentence it mixes between Barbara Kingsolvewr and Shiurley Jackson.

That in itself is enough to encourage you to read this book. The entire novel is the result of an act done udring a moment of horror; this is true melodrama in the sense that we watch how ordinary people react to extraordinary situations. Nlt every melodrama is a "Sweeney Todd". This one is subtle, rich with intelligence and curushingly beautiful.

"Drowning Ruth" is compelling and becomes a fast read. Some may claim this to be a feminist work or perhaps historical fiction though I do not. This is a carefully crafted novel about human condition and the things poeople had to do in order to avoid cultural outcasting during the twentie's and thirties. Our Central Character is a sad woman named Amanda (Mandy and Amy as well, depending upon whom is supplying her knick-name) a college educated registerred nurse who suffers from what is surely post traumatic stress dissorder the onset of which occurs during the last year of war while working a Chicago hospital. However the onset of this illness is not at all war-related and a single evening destroys any chance Amanda had to ever have a "normal" life. She returns home to her sister, Mathilda (Mattie - the use of knick names are abundant on all women except for Ruth. I'll let you decider why.)Because the story isn't told chronologically, we get to know Mattie well, despite the fact that she drowns in the lake where her family owns an island within the early pages of the book. Amandea takes on the care of Ruth and then, when Mathilda's husband,Carl returns home from France, a wounded soldier, they settle into a new routine; a family where each of the three members are an island.The island on which they live becomes both a fortress and a metaphor for safety. As with all the men in this book, Carl is dispensed with quietly after a misunderstanding that causes him to leave for work and Amanda and Ruth are once again alone together moving from the farm on the mainland to the cottage on their island.

This is a book about communication, love, dedication and family values. This is a book that assures us that even one hundred years ago, people were the same as they are today. This is a book that causes you to silently urge the characters toward choices because we are given more information than they are. So as Amanda and Ruth move through their lives the multitudes of roads not taken would appear to be straight and well matted, while the roads they DO travel are circuitous and require a bit of work with a syth. Ms Schwarz chooses a place to stop telling her story though it is clear that the story could continue on- perhaps even into the 21st Century. But less is more and Schwarz knows this. We get to know our characters so well that we can clearly understand what the next fifty years will bring anyway.

"Drowning Ruth" is beautifully crafted with a voice that sings.
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on January 11, 2015
This was a quick read for me bc I was anxious to find out the answers to the mysteries of the story that are thrown out at the beginning. The characters are interesting and the shifting narration adds to their development and interest in the plot. Sometimes the writing is a little trite but I thought the intriguing plot made up for it. About 2/3 the way through I became a little impatient with all the deceptions and misunderstandings but then things become interesting again. The intertwining characters and plot are an illustration of why the truth sets you free.' I would recommend this book to those who enjoy stories with strong women characters. The men in the book are losers.
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on April 1, 2014
This was a recent book club selection, and I didn't realize I had already read it until I got well into the book. I actually enjoyed it more the second time around, which counters my usual position of never re-reading a book. This is a well-written story, but one we have read many times before in other novels, especially those described as "women's literature". It is a story of family dysfunction, secrets and co-dependence masquerading as loyalty. There is a backstory mystery that by the end is revealed to be the cliché of betrayal by a cruel married man. A solid and enjoyable read, but not a memorable one.
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on February 2, 2018
I like unreliable narrators, which I feel Amanda is. Even when it’s not being told from her first-person POV, much of this is Amanda’s story and I took everything I learned through her with a grain of salt. Amanda, Ruth, Mattie, Carl, Imogene, and Arthur are interesting characters, and they kept me engaged. The ending surprised me, and I liked it much more than any of the variations I’d imagined as I read. The book felt a little long, which is why I gave it four instead of five stars.
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on May 30, 2016
This was a very good book. The characters are well drawn out but some are unlikable. Ruth is the purest and most likable character. The outcome of the story isn't revealed until the last few pages and is a little of a let down. The writing is excellent. Takes you back and forth with the characters thoughts. Plenty of angst created around family ties. Drama around 1st world war.
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on January 8, 2017
Not the best book I ever read. But it kept me entertained. I felt the some of the characters where fairly one dimensional. The author could have given the reader a taste of the time, between the wars. More atmosphere, I guess. I also thought the same story was repeated throughout the book.
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on February 16, 2016
Great characters; excellent undercurrent with subtexts and great capture of mental health disorders and addictions without coming right out and naming it. Viewpoints well developed so the reader could get into the heads of Amanda and Ruth. Character nicknames are a bit confusing at times. Drowning Ruth is best read at all once as it can be difficult to pick back up in the middle of the story. Stage is set for a series.
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on February 4, 2018
This story begins in the early 1940s. Mattie died the night Mandy (her sister) gave birth. Both sisters had daughters (Ruth and Imogene) but only Mattie was married. After her sister’s death Mandy has no choice but to give up her baby (Imogene) to be raised by her friend. This is the story of what lengths a person will go to to protect her secret.
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on January 20, 2015
I would give it a much lower rating but I am unable to give any book "I hate it rating" for others to see. However, it was a horrible book with no story line that seemed real. Read more pages than I should have. Could not finish. If you want to try it, please borrow on Kindle from your public library or go to the library.
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