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Water Wings Paperback – September 4, 2005

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set in a small town in Ontario, this delicately wrought family drama opens as Darlene Olepke, mother to Vivian and Hannah, prepares for her wedding to Reg Sinclair, the shoe store man. Vivian and Hannah's father, Mick, died in a tragic water-skiing accident many years ago, and since then Darlene has depended on a string of men for support. However, her inexplicable marriage to Reg, "a large pale man with a perm," dredges up memories and questions for Darlene's family. Darlene's two very different daughters, sharp-witted Vivian and dreamy Hannah, each narrate chapters, as do Angie, Darlene's practical sister, and Wren, Angie's deformed but sensitive daughter. Wren, sensitive to small wonders, draws parallels between human relations and the natural world-particularly the fragile and beautiful insects that inhabit the surrounding Ontario forests-that become increasingly relevant as darker truths about the town emerge. Despite the fine-grained loveliness of Hartog's prose, the novel suffers from a lack of focus, none of the characters crystallizing into distinct, memorable creations. The narrative swings freely from past to present and back again, sweeping memories of sticky summers and lost dreams in its wake. This patchwork construction, along with erratic pacing, decreases the tension and appeal of what is otherwise a beautifully rendered tale.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Beguiling and beautiful Darlene Oelpke attracts men the way a lightning rod attracts electricity. Since she lacks the will to turn them away, her life has been an eventful one. Her story begins with her daughter Hannah driving back into their rural Canadian town to attend Darlene's second marriage. The point of view switches among her female relatives: daughters Hannah and Vivian, sister Angie, and niece Wren. As the four prepare for the ceremony, their flashbacks and musings disclose the present by circling in on events from their common past. Along the way, we see how death and betrayal, buried cruelties, and the fallibility of memory shaped the five women's lives. Vivid cinematic descriptions, epigrammatic phrasing, and the adroit use of dialogue distinguish the writing and provide vivid portraits of the five women. The ending of this impressive novel artfully refers back to the book's beginning, provides no easy answers, and closes the story with hope. Ellen Loughran
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 269 pages
  • Publisher: MacAdam/Cage Publishing (September 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596921463
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596921467
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,342,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Water Wings is a beautiful journey into childhood and three children's understanding of the adult world. Vivien - the realist with a razor-sharp intelligence, Wren - Vivien's cousin who was born with webbed hands and the natural sensibility of a dryad, and Hannah - Vivien's sister, a child who lives in a world of her own, who sees the days of the week in different colours, and for whom memory is a fluid, ephemeral thing. Through these three Water Wings explores the relationship of Vivien and Hannah's beautiful mother Darlene and their father Mick.
Den Hartog conjures up the beauty of the wild Ontario landscape in vivid colour and captures the fragility and poignancy of childhood innocence.
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Format: Hardcover
Still vampish and beautiful, Darlene Oelpke is getting married again. This time it's to Reg, shoe-store man who is associated with the family in some ways most of them aren't yet aware of. Vivian and Hannah are Darlene's adult daughters and are home for the wedding along with their cousin Wren who was born with deformed hands and an angelic nature. Together, Vivian, Hannah, and Wren revisit the sinister river where Darlene's husband was lost. They also discover distrubingly hidden secrets and the enduring survival power of love. Kristen Den Hartog is an imaginative, skilled, and "reader engaging" author. Very highly recommended and entertaining reading, Water Wings is her second novel and clearly establishes her as a first write writer that will leave her readers looking eagerly toward her next title.
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Format: Hardcover
This is definately one of my favourite books of all time. I could not put it down. It was easy to read and I always wanted to turn the page to see what strange twist would happen next. The story is about three girls, Hannah, Vivian and Wren, and how they grew up in a small town with slightly dysfunctional families. This book is beautifully written and I would recommend it to anybody who loves reading!
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Format: Hardcover
You often hear of the ties binding women. Water Wings, through the help of one family explores what separates them. Their unique differences and the secrets not shared. Water Wings reads like a slow swim on a calm Sunday morning. It's smooth, even as it switches from one woman's perspective to the next. The family includes two generations; Darlene and her two daughters Hannah and Vivian and Darlene's sister Angie and her daughter Wren.

Except for two small entries from Angie, Water Wings is written from the perspective of the three girls. The story begins with Hannah traveling back for Darlene's wedding. As the wedding gets closer we get to see glimpses into the three girls' childhood and how they witnessed and reacted to the people and events around them.

Hannah spent a lot time in her own little world. She always wanted to be a Fergus, the family next store. At least until she got to know the dark secret that lived within the house. Hannah remembers days of the week as colours like Saturday is opaque pink, the day her father died. She is the younger of the two and was probably the more spoiled by her father. She takes Vivian's ridicule without question or malice. Hannah is the interesting one. She contains many dark and startling secrets from her childhood never sharing them with anyone, like the day Hannah witnessed Stuart Fergus kill a kitten then made her help bury it. She adored her father Mick and was the one most hurt and confused by his leaving.

Vivian is the most like her mother although she doesn't know it and would thoroughly deny it. She struts around in bikinis in front of her mother's boyfriends. She's cold and calculated and her words sting. Especially the way she talks to Hannah. She takes great pride in correcting Hannah and telling her she's wrong.
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Format: Hardcover
Water Wings is this author's lyrical second novel, fashioned into an exquisite story of two sisters, Hannah and Vivian, and their cousin Wren. A terrible disappointment to her mother, Wren is born imperfect, with deformed hands, but has a soul filled with light, her world one of grace and acceptance that she often doesn't receive from the world. All of the girls remember their earliest years in rural Canada vividly, the lush countryside the backdrop for their adventures and life lessons.
Soon after the final divorce decree from his wife, Darlene, Mick dies in a freak accident. The beautiful, Darlene and her husband make a striking couple and the girls cannot comprehend how their once loving parents could fall out of love. Years later, Darlene makes a decision to remarry, this time to a local shoe storeowner and the sisters must come home for the wedding.
Upon their return, long-forgotten memories surface and they are drawn back, moment by moment, into a past filled with both the joy of discovery and the permanent etching of loss. We see the past as it evolves, slowly, measured through the eyes of the little girls, Hannah, Vivian and Wren. The children's hearts are exposed, their innocence shattered by their parent's separation and eventual divorce. The chapters about Wren are particularly insightful, because of the small tortures visited upon a girl who is different than her peers. The cruelties she endures, each a challenge to a fragile young ego, make her a stronger person.
Before the wedding, Hannah and Vivian reconnect, thinking of the irony of Darlene's marriage. Mick and Darlene's emotional connections have been destroyed by Darlene's incessant need for attention, which precipitates the end of the marriage.
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