The Memory of Water
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The Memory of Water

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  3,845 ratings  ·  389 reviews
On the night their mother drowns, sisters Marnie and Diana Maitland discover there is more than one kind of death. There is the death of innocence, of love, and of hope. Each sister harbors a secret about that night-secrets that will erode their lives as they grow into adulthood.

After ten years of silence between the sisters, Marnie is called back to the South Carolina L...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published March 4th 2008 by Penguin Group (USA)
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Susan Poling
This book tells of two sisters, one of whom has psychological problems that are similar to their mother's.
This is described as the family "curse." The sisters have different memories of a boating accident when their mother is killed and they are saved. As the cursed sister tries to ensure that her son not live as cursed as she is, her sister works to free that son from a hysterical silence caused by a boating accident quite similar to his mother's.
The story is told through the voices of 5 of the...more
This book was just not for me, but I will give the author one more try only because I have another of her books on my physical shelf. It was extremely repetitive and agonizingly slow. Yes, the pace picked up at the end, but by then I already knew exactly what was going to happen to every single character and no longer cared. The writing left a lot to be desired. The editing should have caught those repetitions and the most irksome sentence of all, that when Gil figured out there was no Santa, hi...more
Kelly Ballard
What happens when you discover the ones you love best are intent on hurting you? And what if, they are your family? This book focuses on secrets, mental illness and childhood wounds. Exquisitely written, the book reveals a family and a community still reeling from a past tragic event that threatens to be repeated today.

Marnie and Diana are sisters, born into a dysfunctional family and they spend much of their early years clinging to each other for safety. The father has left for greener pastur...more
As is often the case, the cover drew me to The Memory of Water by Karen White—there was just something about the steely blue-green that guided my hand to pick this book up from the New in Fiction table
instead, perhaps, the book next to it.

Once settled into the multiple narrators’ voices (the sisters—Marnie and Diana; the ex-husband, Quinn; and the young son, Gil), I found this story of a family looking to heal and be whole again very
captivating. Somewhat bothersome was the constant reminders of...more
Annette Martinez
Slow starting....but pretty good finish!!!


What's up with the protagonist getting together with her sister's ex husband. Am I supposed to respect her? I do not. How could you do that? Especially when your sister is unstable, to say the least.

What's up with this family and their boating issues? Seriously, DO NOT go on a boat with any of them. It will NOT end well. The other reason that this ending is a conflict for me is because White kills off a character and it seemed like she just wanted to get her out of the way. Actuall...more
This book is definitely one of the more serious Karen White books I've read lately. It has her usual style of mystery with a touch of romance, but also touches on more serious issues - like bipolar disorder and how it can affect everyone around the person suffering - and it also shows the chapters from a different perspective in real time, which is something different.
The part that I found most intriguing was how she wrote Gil, one of the character's nine-year old son, who is suffering trauma an...more
seanat (elka)
Marnie returns to her childhood home to help her nephew, who is refusing to speak, since suffering a trauma on a boat with his mother.
This re-opens old wounds between herself and her sister as they also were on the boat that ended in their mother's death many years ago. Many secrets have been buried and start to emerge.

The four viewpoint naratives here did seem too many. Could probably have done without Quinn's, never really liked his character, his expectation that his son's aunt should just d...more
Lisa Thompson
So I picked this book up after not being able to finish it. It started out kind of slow and at times I was confused if we were going backwards in the story or forwards. I did like everyone's different point of view. At times the discriptions were a bit long winded and I skimmed some parts. (view spoiler)...more
This book had the unfortunate "luck" of being read after many really amazing books (like The Invisible Bridge). So many I am judging it a bit harshly. Perhaps normally I'd give it 3 stars, saying "I liked it." But right now, I'm just going to say "it was okay." Because I liked it okay, but the book didn't stand out from any other basic novel I have read. Decent characters, decent story. The one good aspect of the story is that is gives you a bit of insight into manic depression (especially what...more
Jul 08, 2009 Kristy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys water/the beach
I felt that this book was difficult to get into, especially since I had not read anything by Karen White before. Once you get past the first half of the book, it gets to the point where you can't put it down. It was not my favorite novel I have ever read, but I enjoyed it because it was a compelling novel about sisters, and since I have a sister I understood a few of the things that Marnie and Diana Maitland went through. It has also taught me a little something about flawed relationships, wheth...more
Although this book had a slow start (which I'm finding to be the case with each Karen White book I've read thus far), I loved how it brought all of the pieces of the puzzle together. Two sisters, through a series of events relating to a family curse with bipolar disorder, come to face the reality of what happened sixteen years earlier when their mother drowned in a boating accident. I really ached for the chasm that had developed between the sisters as they each held secret their perception of t...more
I have read other books by Karen White and I'd have to say that this book was my least favorite.

I liked the setting of the story, but the number of similes and metaphors was annoying along with the incredible predictability.

I had the twist figured out early on. Didn't care for the four viewpoint narratives. I often got the two sisters confused.

Gil sounded way too mature for his age.

The story just seemed too forced.

I appreciate the author taking a stab at bi-polar disorder. It is a terrible illn...more
Kris Irvin
This book was so. freaking. slow. After the first 70 pages, it's all filler until the last 10 pages. Ugh, I was so bored reading this book. It was frustrating especially since it's pretty obvious what the main conflict is over, so you figure out the big mystery about 200 pages before the main characters do and you sit there for the rest of the time going "YOU ARE SO DUMB." None of the characters sound any different from each other, despite one of them being a 9 year old boy. Really, the story ha...more
This story really touched on the popular saying "There is two sides to every story" and how that can divide families. In addition it showed the effects that mental illness can have, the tragedies that came come out of that but most importantly to me was the hope of redemption and forgiveness sprinkled throughout the story that kept me hooked. Although it started slow for me it was well written and I would certainly recommend to others to read.
I always love Karen White's books and never want them to end because you wind up so involved with the characters.

This one is about sisters - Dinah and Marnie..Growing up with a mother that was never really there for them, they were very close to each other. Until the night their mother takes them sailing..What happened that night. Why did their mother take them out on the ocean when she need there was a bad storm. Marnie can't remember what happened that night, all she knew was that her and her...more
CMac G
Way too emo for me. Too close to a romance novel. Some unrealistic plot points including the child's voice was not authentic even if he was an old soul. I don't relate to passion about sailing, art especially portaits, or even orchard raising. Example "I wanted to scream, cry, take her in my arms but did none and simply said or I heard a cry and realized it was from me or I ran to the bushes and vomited" after seeing a painting or meeting someone. It drug out getting toward the end but not the v...more
I liked this book because it was a fast read (Seattle visit/airplane book) and because it was about a topic I don't usually read about, mental illness. It was a good story (except for the part when mothers try to kill there children so they won't grow up to have mental illnesses) with a fairly happy ending.
I gave up. I had just finished reading a Karen White book about sisters and family secrets and what is this book about? Sisters and family secrets. I was not interested at all so it's in the gave up pile.
Colorfully written, interesting characters, just enough mystery, adventure & romance to keep me reading. I liked it & plan on reading more of this author.
Wendy T
I enjoy this book, but it is definitely not a favorite of mine.
i read it on the beach, so it was okay, but incredibly predictable.
Started it but hated the writing so I moved on!
Nancy Baker
Karen White once again has written a wonderful story. Her books are always interlaced with family relationships, family secrets, and beautiful and descriptive settings. The Memory of Water is no exception. I think after reading just the first 20 pages I had a sense of living on the shore's edge and the lapping of the water was almost audible. There are 4 distinct characters in this book and it is divided among their individual thoughts and stories. It was a bit different flow than her other book...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.

this is a book about two sisters whose lives fall apart after their mother drowns. Since her death, the once close sisters have grown apart and the reason for this is explored in the story. After years of living in Arizona, sister Marnie comes back to the south carolina town that she grew up in and to the place where her mother died. She returns after being asked by her brother-in-law to come help with her young nephew, who has stopped speaking, after being in a boating accident with his mother....more
Kathleen Hagen
The Memory of Water, by Karen white, B-plus, narrated by Susanna Burney, produced by Listen and Live audio, downloaded from

Marnie and Diana are sisters who have not spoken to each other in fifteen years-not since the night they, with their mother, capsized the boat in a storm. While the sisters survived, their mother’s body was never found and she was presumed to have drowned. Both sisters are hiding secrets from each other about that night, and they tell themselves that they hate e...more
A Memória da Água, finalista do prémio National Reader’s Choice não foi dos livros que mais me tenha seduzido. Com uma história que poderia ter algum potencial, a autora, no meu entender, tornou a obra um pouco maçadora, e pouco desenvolveu a temática, tendo tornado o livro interessante apenas a algumas páginas do seu final.
O livro conta a história de duas irmãs, Diana e Marnie Maitland que se separam afectivamente logo após o acidente de barco que, viria a vitimar a sua mãe, e do qual também el...more
Goodreads Description- On the night their mother drowns, sisters Marnie and Diana Maitland discover there is more than one kind of death. There is the death of innocence, of love, and of hope. Each sister harbors a secret about that night-secrets that will erode their lives as they grow into adulthood.

After ten years of silence between the sisters, Marnie is called back to the South Carolina Lowcountry by Diana's ex-husband, Quinn. His young son has returned from a sailing trip with his emotion...more
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“They say that not matter how old you become, when you are with your siblings, you revert back to childhood.” 81 likes
“Miles and years become suddenly invisible when you find yourself back where you started from, as if you've learned nothing and you are once again the person you once were.” 35 likes
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