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Sweetwater

3.41 of 5 stars 3.41  ·  rating details  ·  198 ratings  ·  44 reviews
In this brilliant, luminous novel, one of our finest realist writers gives us a story of surpassing depth and emotional power. Acclaimed for her lucid and compassionate exploration of the American family, Roxana Robinson sets her new work on familiar terrain—New York City and the Adirondacks—but with Sweetwater she transcends the particulars of the domestic sphere with a b ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 8th 2005 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2003)
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(showing 1-30 of 387)
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Kathleen
Isabel entered a new marriage on the rebound, trying to move on from the dramatic death of her former husband, Michael. Part of the books details her first marriage, her son, her measures to have another child, and the other part is in the present, married to Paul, and spending some time with his parents at their family home in the Adirondacks on a lake.
Enter Whit, Paul's brother and rival, and everything changes.
Emotions in this book run high and Robinson draws out minute details in the plot.
...more
Karen
Aug 04, 2007 Karen rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Yes, for writers
This story revolves around a recently widowed woman who decides she will be content if she is married to a man who cares about her. The problem? She does not love him. He takes her to his childhood vacation home in the Adirondacks where she meets his family and learns about his strained family dynamic, especially after her husband Paul's estranged brother, Whit, arrives on scene.

Ultimately, the marriage is tested and strained to the point she realizes it was a mistake.

Pros: Robinson's love of
...more
Renee
(From Booklist Review "Critically acclaimed but not well known, Robinson will reach a broader audience with this hold-your-breath novel of loss and love".)
Sweetwater runs like a low tide; quiet, and very powerful. This is a story of loss and remarriage, and of the harm done to, and by, vulnerable men and women. This is the second book I have read by this author. She has an astounding talent for interlacing a story. I finished this book last night around 1:00 am; this was hard to put down. Robins
...more
Sheri
This is the first novel by this author that I have read and, true to my character, when I really like an author, I devour everything she's written. Good story about the struggle of a second marriage. Lots of stuff about the environment, sound stuff, credible and interesting. I read it in a day and then I read "Cost" the next day!
Kate
Not great. Good, well, sort of good, in a predictable kind of way.
What I did like: I love the Adironacks, so I liked the scenes on the lake. And I liked the dysfunctional people: the alcoholic mother-in-law and the bipolar first husband. She was obnoxious, he was unpredictable, but both pushed people into action. Unfortunately these characters were at peripheral.
What I didn't like:
1.) I didn't much like Isabel and I don't know why three fairly interesting men, (OK, two interesting and one dolt
...more
Eileen Granfors
Roxana Robinson is one of the great modern American writers. Her books are layered with thematic threads that weave into a rich, complete story.

"Sweetwater" is an assessment of a family vacation. As with any family vacation, the time is fraught with pleasures and anxieties. This one, set in the Adirondacks during a drought, carries more tension than most, for not only is the environment at risk, but a new wife has come into the clan.

For Isabel, this time in the woods should be a bonding experien
...more
Jane
I was so taken with this book at first. A woman and her new husband are going to his family cabin in the Adirondacks. Although it isn't the landscape of Lassen, It evoked Juniper Lake so vividly. I felt as though I were there. The novel goes back and forth between this lake setting and the main character, 's first marriage to , a man whose depressions finally result in his taking his own life. Paul's brother Whit comes to spend time with them at the cabin and there is an immediate connection. It ...more
Lauren Albert
Anyone who follows my reviews knows that I read a fair number of (what would be considered) depressing books. When I finished Sweetwater, I began to think about what redeemed those books that failed to redeem this one. Because I found Sweetwater depressing in a way that I didn't find many of those other books. I realized that a book is most depressing when you walk away from it with nothing but the despair of the story. When you can walk away from it with a memory of the beauty of the language o ...more
Fredsky
This book is narrated by a woman named Isabel telling about her second marriage. Both of her husbands considered her fabulous, but I couldn't see exactly why. Her first husband, a bi-polar journalist, subjected her to emotional abuse. And her second husband was a peculiar choice. She admits that she agreed to marry him sort of to shut him up. Her terrible choices ripen and she suffers.

I give this book about a 3.25. There are some good characters and some good scenes, and I would have liked it m
...more
eb
Unsatisfying. Robinson keeps the reader interested, but only by setting up false mysteries (how did Michael die?) and telling the story out of chronological order. I never believed that the Isabel of the later time period was the same Isabel of the earlier one. I found the lectures on the environment stultifying. I felt yanked around from section to section. I was sulky and resistant during the final conflagration, which came too quickly and tidily. And I never believed for a moment that some du ...more
Jennifer G
The story of a woman who "rushes" into a second marriage after the death of her husband and the consequences that follow. A book that has very good PARTS to it, but is like looking at a jigsaw puzzle with about 10 pieces missing. The plot goes along at a slow, steady pace, then suddenly slams to a screeching halt (or really speeds up to about Mach 3), leaving you totally mystified. There are nice elements that could have been dealt with more (second marriages, grief, etc.) but everything is so c ...more
Mrtruscott
Liked the characters in the book and the believable family issues.

But I cannot even keep track of how many books I've read lately that involve people with "summer homes." It's becoming a tiresome trope.
Annemariem
Awful, simply awful. Stilted, contrived and awful.

Just really, really bad.
Kay
A heart-wrenching but well-written novel about a first marriage that ended when the clinically depressed husband commits suicide. The book itself is hopeful. It has some of the most insightful descriptions I've ever read of what (success rather than failure) triggers Michael's black depressions, which are separated by long periods of being a delightful, brilliant husband and father. The denouement, which takes place in the middle of a raging wildfire, is extremely vivid--hard to believe that any ...more
Jennifer Brown



Very,very disappointing.
I read her collection of short stories, A Perfect Stranger & immediately thought "I must read more of this woman's work!"
Sweetwater was a let-down.
Too transparent, too heavy ,wooden characters.Reading this book, one can see very clearly why writers are told to "show, don't TELL!"She explains everything, describes everything in minute detail .....& not like Proust.
I can't believe that the person who wrote Sweetwater & "A Perfect Stranger" are one & the same
...more
Diane Yannick
Read this book as I liked Cost by this author. It was a good read and I cared about the characters. I thought it was going to be the same old married woman falls in love with husband's brother theme but it was more than that. The flashbacks of Isabel's life with her depressive first husband were engaging. Just not too sure about the way the author worked out the ending. Was a little too much tying up loose ends after a slowly unfolding novel.
Brenna
The description was beautiful and very precise, each word chosen with a lot of thought. Unfortunately the plot was depressing and predictable and I strongly disliked all of the characters. The protagonist denied her own agency at every turn and was so weak you wanted to slap her, and the men surrounding her were all jerks. The author was also way too heavy-handed with the nature symbolism, which got completely ridiculous at the end.
Nancy
It's beautiful, it hits the emotional notes right on. It's realistic and gentle in portraying less than ideal relationships. But it also weaves in some environmental preaching that, while i agree with every word, occasionally seems a bit grating and out of place with the rest of the story. and i'm not sure how i feel about the ending, no spoilers but one character gets short shrift on both development and life events.
Kristy
Isabel and Paul have just married (2nd marriage for both) and are spending a couple of weeks at Paul's family's lodge in the Adirondacks. You can tell from the beginning that the marriage has its troubles. Isabel is still not over her first husband or his death and you can tell she just doesn't want to be a widow anymore. Isabel tries, you can tell, but it turns out to be an interesting two week lake vacation.
Mary Cronk
I liked this book but the style is a bit wordy. There were times I was not sympathetic to Isabel, the main character. The depiction of mental illness and the treatment (or not) was very good.

I liked the ending but it was a little too convenient....

I hated the mother-in-laws and they deserved it.

I was glad to get to the end of the book. "Cost" was a much better book.
Lynn Harpham
Loved this novel -my first by Roxana Robinson. Sweetwater floats along on quiet but important actions and dialogue, honing the points that all families pivot on: love, loyalty, childhood, the future... Who loves who more, who loves who with what conditions, what happened and can never be forgiven.... it is all there, and exquisitely written.
Meg Petersen
I liked this. It was well written and interesting. I would have given it four stars, except for the very last couple of pages with the airport scene which should have been cut. Very well written though, and I liked the interplay between ecology and the events of the novel. Wasn't wild about the main character, though... get more spunk...
Kathy Juveli Hauck
It's the story of a widowed woman who remarries for the sake of companionship. Set in the Adirondacks, she meets the family of the man she's recently married to and then, something happens. How's that for a summary?

I kept waiting for something of interest to happen and had to read until I was 7/8 of the way through the book. Cripes.
Hillary
I would give this 2.5 stars. This story alternated between the narrators 2nd marriage and her first marriage. I think I would have preferred this if the author had told only one of those stories, rather than trying to weave the two together. I didn't find the woman sympathetic and had a hard time identifying with her.
Betty
There was an idea of a story here buried in a message about nature and the environment. The characters however are an abstraction, distracting even in their anemic development. You feel there might be someone relatable in Isabel, but then all the Lifetimey drama washes that all away.
Tonya
This novel takes the reader through Isabel Green's new marriage and a vacation stay in the Adirondacks, and interweaves her previous troubled marriage. Beautiful details and descriptions of the natural world, along with describing Isabel's emotions. Very enjoyable read.
Becky
A good balance of suspense and romance. The story shifts between the main character's first and second marriages (past and present). The character development was outstanding, even for the minor players. I would've given it 5 stars had the last 3 pages not been so absurd.
Bonnye Reed
The descriptive passages in this book made me desire an immediate trip to the Adirondacks. I found the people too typecast, however, and the plot held no surprises. I would like to read Roxana Robinson's short stories, highly touted by my fellow Goodreads readers.
Christine
Some of the things about this book I really loved. The description of a relationship with someone with depression was great. The setting and description of the setting was also great, making me want to visit and stay, but there was something missing for me.
Cathleen Bell
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Born in Pine Mountain, Kentucky, Roxana Robinson grew up in New Hope, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Buckingham Friends School, in Lahaska, and from The Shipley School, in Bryn Mawr. She attended Bennington College and studied with Bernard Malamud and Howard Nemerov. She received a B.A. degree in English Literature from the University of Michigan.
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