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The Weight of Water Paperback – January 7, 1998
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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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
Originally structured, the novel moves forward flawlessly, with a stunning and unexpected climax. Shreve's natural mastery of images and language is accomplished. Yet I think of Shreve's work as an ensemble of possibilities, a "skimmer", an action-oriented story that flows toward denouement. A compulsively quick read, I am left desiring more. I crave more substance from her characters, increased depth and motivation, less facile, albeit dramatic, resolution of issues. It's all there, "skimming" the surface, teasing the imagination, but I need something additional from this gifted writer. I cannot help but wonder what a hundred or so pages would bring, a fleshing out of her multi-faceted ensemble. With a style similar to that of Alice Hoffman, another wonderful talent, Shreve offers lyrical phrasing and an interesting themes, but, selfishly, I would love to see this artist's work mature, fulfilling its rich promise.
The sense of impending doom both in the present-day story and in the parallel story set on the Isles of Shoals off the coast of Maine/NY was handled with breathtaking control and precision.
Most of all, as a writer myself, I was captivated with how easily she made the shifts between present and past, switching many times within a single chapter with no separation between the two other than a paragraph break. Never once was I confused or lost.
Shreve held the tension and suspense perfectly. While I began to suspect the conclusion of the 1833 story about 2/3 of the way through the book, I never saw the end of the modern story coming, which made it all the more powerful. And Shreve managed to make every single character sympathetic.
I thought it a masterful job.