Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve

Published in 1997. 279 pages.

When I posted my original list for the 2nds Challenge, I asked for suggestions for an Anita Shreve novel for the list. Unfortunately, I didn't get a lot of rave reviews, so I kept pushing back my decision. With the end of the challenge fast approaching, I read a review of Sea Glass that Trish had posted and considered that one. Trish also recommended The Weight of Water and for some reason that one appealed to me more than Sea Glass, so I picked it up at the library. I finally got to it on Tuesday night, and I finished it yesterday morning.

The Weight of Water was a quick read, and I really enjoyed the structure of the book. I also was intrigued by the title of the book - and I'm still contemplating the various meanings and symbolism it contains.

The plot centers around - and is told from the viewpoint of - a photographer named Jean who, with her husband, young daughter, and brother-in-law and his girlfriend, spends some time on a boat off the coast of Maine on an assignment related to the true events of the Smuttynose Island murders of 1873. Jean's thoughts and experiences are interjected with an account of the murders and events leading up to them, usually without any warning about the switch in storyline. In taking her photos, Jean becomes somewhat obsessed with the murders, and the biggest part of the book contains a (fictional) translation of the journal of the survivor of the murders, which Jean finds in a museum and "borrows."

I don't know that Anita Shreve will be a favorite author, but I'm glad I took the opportunity to read a second of her novels for this challenge.

By the way, The Weight of Water was apparently adapted into a movie starring Sean Penn, Elizabeth Hurley, Sarah Polley, and Catherine McCormack.



  1. Anita Shreve isn't one of my favorite authors but she is one that I respect. Her novels stick with me.

  2. It sounds an interesting read, I must admit I have looked at but never read an Anita Shreve novel not sure what is putting me off.

  3. I've given Anita Shreve several chances, and every one of her books has bugged me in one way or another. Unless my book club picks one of her novels again, I'm done.

  4. puss reboots and alix: thanks for stopping by. i always love to get your comments!

    florinda: i'm very curious about which of Shreve's books you've read. do tell!