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The Watery Part of the World

3.01  ·  Rating details ·  1,247 Ratings  ·  290 Reviews
Michael Parker's vast and involving novel about pirates and slaves, treason and treasures, madness and devotion, takes place on a tiny island battered by storms and cut off from the world. Inspired by two little-known moments in history, it begins in 1813, when Theodosia Burr, en route to New York by ship to meet her father, Aaron Burr, disappears off the coast of North Ca ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by Algonquin Books (first published 2011)
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Apr 24, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book received a good review in The Washington Post and I had high hopes for it. I thought the premise sounded so interesting: in 1813, Theodosia Burr Alston, the daughter of disgraced former VP Aaron Burr (who had killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel and tried to create an empire in Mexico) disappeared at sea somewhere off the coast of North Carolina. This is a true fact. But in this novel, Parker imagines that Theodosia did not die in a shipwreck (probably what truly occurred), but that her ...more
I had high hopes for this book. I read raving reviews of it everywhere. NPR sealed the deal for me, so I requested it from the library.

A friend just asked me, "What are you reading?" So, I said, "Ugh. I hate to even tell you. I'm having a love hate relationship with a book." Which of course, piqued her interest even more.

I read most of this book in one sitting. And then it sat for a day or two. It didn't call to me and I honestly felt only obligated to finish it because I had read well past my
Apr 30, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm giving this book only 2 stars because I found the story kind of boring. It was so difficult to figure out what was happening in the plot. The story switched between two time periods, but this wasn't very obvious in the beginning. I didn't really get to know the characters or frankly care about any of them.
With The Watery Part of the World the reader trolls through the Outer Banks of North Carolina during two different eras. The first, the historical time period of Theodosia Burr Alston(Whaley), daughter of the notorious Aaron Burr. The second isn't identified specifically but is the time of her great-great-great granddaughters, Theo and Maggie Whaley and handyman, Woodrow Thornton, a distant relative of Theodosia's friend and carpenter Hezekiah Thornton.

What I found most interesting about this bo
This story has a lot of atmosphere, and Michael Parker writes well.
The way their family history affects the sisters and their relationship with Woodrow is interesting.

There a few things that weighed down a little for me:

The narrative gets a little confusing at times, because several characters in the past and present have the same names.
(possible mini spoiler alert!)
(view spoiler)
Nov 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. The writing was beautiful throughout, and the stories intertwined in the novel were as individual and mysterious as the photograph on the cover. The islands off of North Carolina, the sand, the scrub, and the sea were the strongest characters. Even though Theodosia Burr, lost at sea according to history, offers a fiery opening when she is the only survivor of a ship run aground by pirates, the steady pulse of the tides and the changing forces of the wind really control the boo ...more
Jul 26, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Disappointed after reading reviews--boo to NPR.
Parallel stories 150 years apart, in the same place, same families, similar white/black relations. Hardly a new narrative device, necessary to avoid climax/denouement of one story way ahead of the other, if you're going chronologically.
No matter, the main problem is the modern story, which took up ? 2/3 of the book (felt like a lot more). It was boring and predictable, none of the characters were well developed or particularly interesting, although
Feb 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like Faulkner and Southern literature
Recommended to Lisa by: This is an advanced copy from Valerie at Fountainhead Books
The Watery Places of the World is a beautiful, well characterized novel with a strong sense of place and purpose. If a classic is a book that "has something to say and says it well," then this book has those earmarks. The author's reflections on love, loss, and what draws people to one another and to a place are perceptive and wonderfully wrought. At first, I struggled a bit to hit my stride with the author's style. For some reason I found the syntax difficult to wrap my feeble mind around. Howe ...more
Apr 25, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Michael Parker
Recommended to Yasmin by: Beverly Jackson
I recently finished The Watery Part of the World...I initially picked up this book because of the synopsis...three folks left behind on an island off the coast of North Carolina...two elderly, white sisters and an elderly black gentlemen. Everyone else had either relocated (the living was hard--heavy, ravaging storms with hard rain and winds would do that to most anybody as well as the isolation of being cut off from the mainland and dare I say civilization) or died. I wanted to know what type o ...more
Michelle H
Jan 19, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
BORING. I could have loved this one. It includes a real-life unresolved mystery involving the disappearance of Aaron Burr's adult daughter, enough isolation on a remote island and plentiful reasons for the main character NOT to return to her former life which explains why her story remains a mystery today(gotta keep the historical fiction about real life figures plausible!), and the perfect amount of down home references to Eastern North Carolina places and people to make me remember my years sp ...more
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Wrong Author 1 15 Jun 18, 2012 02:16AM  
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MICHAEL PARKER is the author of five novels – Hello Down There, Towns Without Rivers, Virginia Lovers, If You Want Me To Stay, The Watery Part of the World and two collections of stories, The Geographical Cure and Don’t Make Me Stop Now. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in various journals including Five Points, the Georgia Review, The Idaho Review, the Washington Post, the New York Times ...more
More about Michael Parker...