rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
My Wednesday Night Book Club selected “The Weight of Water” as our September read. I have read several other of Shreve’s novels before, my favorite of which was “Fortune’s Rocks”.
“The Weight of Water” is inspired by an actual historic event– the Smuttynose murders. In 1873, three Norwegian immigrant women were attacked on Smuttynose Island, a small island off the coast of New Hampshire. Only one of the women, Maren Hontvedt survived.
“The Weight of Water” switches back and forth between 2 narratives– one present day and one in the time leading up to the Smuttynose murders. The modern day narrative is a about a Jean, photographer working on a project to cover the Smuttynose murders. Jean becomes slightly obsessed with her research of the murders, even going so far as to steal historic documents from the library. She also becomes overwhelmed by the idea that her husband is having an affair.
The narrative changes back and forth between Jean’s experiences and Maren’s. Neither of the narratives truly drew me in, but in my opinion, the modern day storyline was the weaker of the two. I found none of the characters to be likeable and never got a handle on some of their motivations.
Of the people who were at the book club meeting, we were pretty evenly divided between those who loved the book and those who thought that it was just okay.