The Weight of Water
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The Weight of Water

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3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  16,898 ratings  ·  1,161 reviews
When a photographer researches a legendary crime that took place a century earlier, she immerses herself in the details of the case--and finds herself caught in the grip of an uncontrollable emotion.
Paperback, 246 pages
Published January 7th 1998 by Back Bay Books (first published January 1st 1997)
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Tory
“I learned that night that love is never as ferocious as when you think it is going to leave you. We are not always allowed this knowledge, and so our love sometimes becomes retrospective.”

Anita Shreve has such a somber but beautiful voice. Her stories are incredibly emotional.

The plot was somewhat scattered and none of the characters were developed enough for me to love them. However, that didn’t take away from this book for me, as it usually would. Some writers, good characters are all they h...more
Connie
Shreve is a lyrical storyteller, but this one did not come together for me as much as some. I loved the idea of the old murder mystery, combined with the present day...but felt little attachment to the characters of the present.
I will say, I figured out the twist in the past story, but did not see the present day twist coming...kind of blindsided me. She paints a beautiful picture of her settings and I was transported to a different and harsh time. A rather sad story overall.
Angie
Oy. Where to begin?

I realized I was skimming pages, something I only do when I'm really bored with a story, so I checked what page I was on.

46. Forty-six!

How is it possible that it moves soooo slow that forty-six pages felt like a hundred?

Know what I don't need?
- Adjectives in every single sentence.
- The same island described a million times.
- The regular reminder in every chapter that the husband is a poet and (surprise!) liked to drink.
- Reminders every two pages that she's jealous.

Ov...more
Sherry
22. "On a small island off the New Hampshire coast in 1873, two women were brutally murdered by an unknown assailant. A third woman survived the attack, hiding in a sea cave until dawn. More than a century later, a photographer, Jean, comes to the island to shoot a photo-essay about the legendary crime. Immersing herself in accounts of the lives of the fishermen's wives who were its victims, she becomes obsessed with the barrenness of these women's days: the ardor-killing labor, the long stretch...more
David Abrams
Anita Shreve (author of the much-touted "The Pilot’s Wife") has done the near-impossible in "The Weight of Water." She has written two tragic tales, separated by more than 100 years, and coiled them seamlessly into one compelling narrative. This is one of the most emotional, provocative and exciting novels I’ve read in a long time. For those who dismissed "The Pilot’s Wife" with a shrug, this is THE Shreve novel to search out at the local bookstore. "The Weight of Water" is a much better crafted...more
Gail
Jan 11, 2014 Gail rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: ladies looking for a beach read; romantic teenagers
Anita Shreve could be described as a guilty pleasure...like potato chips. I thought this was one of her better efforts, with interwoven plots, some great characterization, and a very sure hand with the New England background. Even though I saw the present-day plot twist coming from about page 10, the book still held my interest...I mentally screamed, "Look out! Disaster ahead!" several times. I enjoyed this book very much, but most of her others, notably "The Pilot's Wife" (gee, how could the re...more
Antof9
It's very rare that a book -- especially a standard-issue novel -- sends me to the dictionary. This one did not once, but twice, and early in the book. Although I've heard both words many times, and knew in general what they meant, I felt compelled to look up their real meanings, given the sentences they fell in. The sentences, with the words in italics below:
"The island is not barren, but it is sere and bleak."
"The Isles of Shoals, an archipelago, lie in the Atlantic, ten miles southeast off th...more
Barbara Poore
My friend lent this to me while traveling in Spain since my other books were stolen. I doubt that I would have picked it up on my own. The double story of a woman who travels to an island off Portsmouth NH (Smuttynose--there is a present day brewery of that name in Portsmouth--who knew?) to research the 19c murder of two women on the island, interspersed with the story of the murders by one of the survivors. The present day story seems poorly grounded....what magazine would pay a photographer to...more
Beth
In The Weight of Water, Anita Shreve tells a story of pain, jealousy, and passion. Her characters and their closest relationships--with siblings, with partners--are trapped in isolated and claustrophobic spaces. Shreve tells the story of the murders of two Norwegian immigrant women on Smuttynose Island off the coast of New Hampshire in the late 19th century. She explores the 19th Century events in the context of a contemporary photographer's trip to the island to capture the location for a magaz...more
Nancy Oakes
The Weight of Water is a book I just read for my book group. Anita Shreve's books aren't normally ones I would pick to read, so this was a bit of a challenge.

I have to say that I didn't really care too much for the modern-day people and their woes. I just couldn't relate to the female characters here (either Jean or Adaline) as real people with real problems. However, I did enjoy the story about the Norwegian immigrants who came to Smuttynose Island. They had some serious issues to deal with, e...more
Cheri
This book may be best summed up as a summer read, chick lit guiltily knotted into historical fiction. Anita Shreve binds together the gristly 19th c. murders at Smuttynose, a small island off the coast of New Hampshire, with the slow keening of a contemporary marriage.

As a child I grew up sailing and anchoring off the Isles of Shoals, listening to tales of the pirate Bluebeard, treasure and murder; swimming in the deep black waters; and exploring Smuttynose and the Haley house (of which I'm a d...more
Nadine Doolittle
I was surprised when I finished this book to discover I kind of liked it when there are so many reasons not to.

1)The long and largely irrelevant passages about Maren's life in Norway.
2) The unexplained hostility between the two sisters (Maren and Karen--yikes--imagination where art thou?)
3)The past story of the murders and the present tale of jealousy went off the rails at the critical moment. Frankly, the whole narrative from the past didn't hang together very well.
4)The cliched moody drunk p...more
Michelle Powers
One of those novels that is 2 stories in one. A contemporary story of a woman, her husband and daughter, sailing with his brother and the brother's girlfriend off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine so she can photograph the scene of a murder that took place 150 years earlier. The tension of the people on the boat is revealed right away.

And then through trial transcripts and a memoir that has never been found before, the story of Norwegian immigrants who settled on this islands off the coast....more
Carla
Maybe it is just me but I had a difficult time with this book on an ethical basis. Two stories within a story. One in current time the other based on an actual event that occurred in 1873 on Smuttynose Island. Shreve offers the reader her own alternate theory of what happened in 1873 through one of her fictional characters removing a ficitional diary of the sole survivor (real person)from the archive of a library. We, the reader, learn the truth about the murders through this discovered diary. M...more
Renee
Having lived in so many areas of the country, I have always enjoyed reading works of fiction by authors who are local to the area where I am currently living. It is interesting to get a regional historical perspective through the intertwining of real places, people and events in order to understand the backdrop for an author’s story.

Anita Shreve is a masterful author from New England who has taken a real event—a horrific double murder of two Norwegian women in the Isle of Shoals in the late 180...more
Sharon
This novel is really two stories in one. First there is the story of Norwegian immigrants coming to America, and secondly we have the contemporary story of a photographer going to the island where the immigrants lived to photograph and research a 100 year old murder.

A murder of two women took place over 100 years ago on the island of Smutty Nose in the Isles of Shoals. Maren Hanvent moves to this very remote, sparse island with her fisherman husband. They are followed by her sister and brother...more
Danelle
In one word, depressing.

It's the mid-nineties and Jean, her husband Thomas, and her daughter Billie are on a chartered boat with her brother-in-law Rich and his girlfriend, Adeline. Jean has to do a photo essay of some islands off the coast of Maine where a horrific murder took place in the 1800's. Jean becomes fascinated with the crime, starts to believe that her husband is having an affair, and becomes so emotionally unstable that she finds she is capable of committing horrific acts.

The book...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Dec 20, 2011 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List
I couldn't warm to this book. I think it tries too hard, it feels affected, insincere. It's mostly told from the perspective of Jean. She's a photographer sent to get photographs of Smuttynose, Maine, part of the Shoal Islands near Portsmouth, New Hampshire. In 1873, it was the setting of a gruesome double murder, so she visits the island accompanied by her husband, five-year-old daughter and her brother-in-law and his girlfriend. The novel is mostly written in a first person present voice that...more
Yumiko Hansen
Anita Shreve wrote two tragic tales, separated by more than 100 years, and coiled them seamlessly into one compelling narrative.



In the novel, a photojournalist named Jean gets an assignment to do a photo essay on a 100-year-old double -murder that happened on the isles of Shoals, a tiny group of islands off the coast of New Hampshire. Jean brings along her poet husband, her five-years-old daughter, her brother-in-low and his new girlfriend.

Shreve skillfully got me involved in the soap opera whe...more
Kirsty Darbyshire

After reading the hefty and only half good Fortune's Rocks I wanted to read some more of Shreve so I picked the slimmest volume in the bookshop hoping that she could write more consistently compellingly in a shorter work. And I got what I wanted - this book would have been unputdownable if I hadn't have had so much to do. I woke up before my alarm this morning and before I got a chance to decide whether I really ought to try and get a little more sleep my head had decided I needed to finish this

...more
Catherine Gordon
I actually liked this book more than I thought I would. The modern day character Jean is rather annoying however I did like the descriptions of her role as a photographer as they felt genuine. The landscape is well written and you can feel the isolation and the cold that is described. I like the style of writing very much. However the characters in this time period are shallow. Jean isn't likeable and her actions don't make sense. The murder story is real and I don't know how comfortable I feel...more
Elizabeth
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Caley
Definitely an evocative novel, the grimness of the Northeastern Atlantic was all there and the fated relationship between the main couple was clear from Shreve's nuanced description of their day-to-day interactions. Unfortunately, that's really the only strong point of this novel. Minus these poignant descriptions, the rest of the plot was unnecessarily drawn out to supposedly create some sort of suspense that falls terribly flat. This is not a "whodunnit" tale and only a inattentive reader coul...more
Maria
Este livro suscitou em mim emoções contraditórias. Primeiro porque achei em certas partes a narrativa maçadora, mas depois, sobretudo para o fim do romance, tornou-se bastante empolgante saber-se o desenrolar tanto do crime antigo, como do próprio romance actual vivenciado entre a personagem principal e secundárias.
Fazendo uma análise geral do livro gostei do livro no seu todo, embora mais na parte final, visto ter tido bastante mais acção e menos “palha” e momentos supérfluos.
Jean leva-nos a c...more
Lori
A gripping and hauntng tale that weaves the past into the present with brilliant subtlety. Jean is on assignment to photograph the sight of a long ago murder on Smuttynose Island off the coast of New Hampshire. She along with her husband and five year old daughter decide to turn the assignment into a vacation with her brother in law and his new girlfriend on their sailboat.
Jean discovers a lost archive in Portsmouth's library including a narrative from the sole survivor of the murders. As the re...more
Molly
I have always regarded Shreve as a "borderline junk novel" writer. Her storylines are engaging, always containing an element of juicy scandal, but her writing style is not accomplished. There are some authors whose prose alone can make you pause in astonishment. Shreve is not one of those writers. In this novel, however, her sparse narrative blends seemlessly with the world that it describes. The novel takes place on and around the island of Smuttynose, off the coast of Portsmouth, New Hampshire...more
Lorrie
Oh, man, I'm torn, twisted, seasick, I think, after finishing this book. Two different stories were going on and Shreves had me going back and forth and back and forth till at the end my dinner was coming back up in my throat. Even though I picked this book up and read about 15 pages a couple weeks ago, I finally then read the entire book in one day. I could not put it down! It was totally absorbing and slightly sickening but very good! I want to give it 5 stars but can only give it 4 since it m...more
Mafi
Na noite de 5 de março de 1873, duas mulheres imigrantes foram assassinadas nas ilhas Shoals, perto de New Hampshire nos EUA.

Mas uma terceira mulher sobreviveua este crime. 100 anos se passaram e temos Jean um jornalista fotográfica que é enviada às ilhas para fazer uma reportagem sobre este assassinato polémico e ainda por resolver.

Acompanhada por Thomas seu marido e pela sua filha, irão navegar com o cunhado de Jean e a sua namorada Adaline. Enquanto Jean se entrega na pesquisa e investigaçã...more
Judi
In March 1873 two women were bloodily murdered on Smuttynose; one woman survived by hiding with her dog in a sea cave. Louis Wagner was the man accused and later tried and hanged for the murders. All the evidence used in convicting him was circumstantial; to this day there is some doubt that the murders could have happened as the prosecution conveyed. For Wagner to have murdered these woman he would have had to row from Portsmouth out to the Isle of Shoals, which means that he would have had to...more
Natasha
After completing the last page, (which, mind you, I was in disbelief that the book had even ended), I started to listen to my iPod, as I was too numb to do anything else.

First song on shuffle:
Throw My Love Around by Jon McLaughlin.

En suite:
Blank Sheet Of Paper by Tim McGraw
Nobody Wins by the Veronicas.

Clearly, my iPod was rigged.

My point (if I had one?) - oh yes. The sad music only emphasised my emotions.

After finishing each chapter, I had to tear my eyes away from the book to just think. To dig...more
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Anita Shreve grew up in Dedham, Massachusetts (just outside Boston), the eldest of three daughters. Early literary influences include having read Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton when she was a junior in high school (a short novel she still claims as one of her favorites) and everything Eugene O'Neill ever wrote while she was a senior (to which she attributes a somewhat dark streak in her own work). A...more
More about Anita Shreve...
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“I learned that night that love is never as ferocious as when you think it is going to leave you. We are not always allowed this knowledge, and so our love sometimes becomes retrospective.” 20 likes
“Sometimes I think that if it were possible to tell a story often enough to make the hurt ease up, to make the words slide down my arms and away from me like water, I would tell that story a thousand times.” 19 likes
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