Yumiko Hansen's Reviews > The Weight of Water

The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve
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's review
Aug 08, 11

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 when, in the first few pages, Jean and Rich take a trip to the island to photograph the murder scene.

The attraction and tension between them is as palpable as briny sea air.

I quite liked Shreve's description of Smuttynose Island and the rest of the Isles of Shoals -- so graphic and interesting that I immediately searched the Internet for the photos of the area.

However, there are also many reasons not to like this book; the past story of the murders and the present tale of jealousy went off the rails at the critical moment. Frankly, the whole narrative didn't hang together very well.

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Patti Actually, Shreve did not write the story of the murder on Smuttynose Island. That was a real occurrence, although Shreve invented dialogue and events that could have happened in the time leading up to the murders.

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