Winter, 1919. Amanda Starkey spends her days nursing soldiers wounded in the Great War. Finding herself suddenly overwhelmed, she flees Milwaukee and retreats to her family's farm on Nagawaukee Lake, seeking comfort with her younger sister, Mathilda, and three-year-old niece, Ruth. But very soon, Amanda comes to see that her old home is no refuge - she has carried her troubles with her. On one terrible night almost a year later, Amanda loses nearly everything that is dearest to her when her sister mysteriously disappears and is later found drowned beneath the ice that covers the lake. When Mathilda's husband comes home from the war, wounded and troubled himself, he finds that Amanda has taken charge of Ruth and the farm, assuming her responsibility with a frightening intensity. Wry and guarded, Amanda tells the story of her family in careful doses, as anxious to hide from herself as from us the secrets of her own past and of that night.
Ruth, haunted by her own memory of that fateful night, grows up under the watchful eye of her prickly and possessive aunt and gradually becomes aware of the odd events of her childhood. As she tells her own story with increasing clarity, she reveals the mounting toll that her aunt's secrets exact from her family and everyone around her, until the heartrending truth is uncovered.
Guiding us through the lives of the Starkey women, Christina Schwarz's first novel shows her compassion and a unique understanding of the American landscape and the people who live in it.
Executive Producer: Sherry Huber
Original Jacket Photograph: William A. Bake/Tib Swanstock
Original Jacket Design: Timothy Hsu
Author Photo © Jerry Bauer
©2000 Christina Schwarz
(P)2000 Random House, Inc.
"A remarkable debut: surprising, unsettling and sure." (The New York Times Book Review)
Never thought I would enjoy this book from the write up. It really seemed like a "womens book" ladies don't take this the wrong way but it is a type of book that would appeal to women.
Maybe that statement wasn't fair. I REALLY enjoyed the book regardless of my statement.
I have even bought a copy of the hardback and many friends have borrowed it and enjoyed it as much as I did. I will say it is a little depressing and heavy on the heart as the story progresses . I recommend it to adults only because of the sensitive issues.
Thanks audible for making this available to listeners.
The listener is carefully led through a complex plot which is revealed in an unexpected and effective manner and only fully, with penultimate sacrifice, at the end of the story. Fully developed, realistic characters and setting portray a world where individual actions and avoiding truth have bold consequences. This intertwined and unpredictable story, focusing on two women and two girl-children flows well over a twenty-year time frame.
I found this book to be captivating, heart wrenching, warming, and compelling. I did not want it to end. The surprise ending is an excellent and spellbinding end! The author is a fantastic writer. I await her next novel.
This story made me nuts. The tale switches back and forth between different first person narrations and different time periods so much that I couldn't tell which way was up. Who is supposed to be speaking now? Is this before the other part, or after? I spent two hours listening to the first 45 minutes of the book trying to figure it out. I spent the rest of the book somewhat confused but couldn't bear to keep repeating chapters to try and find the "hand-off" from one character and time period to the next. It doesn't help that the characters who are doing the narration are all a little crazy too. Sometimes what they say just doesn't make sense and really is unrelated to the current topic. Its done to add a teaser to the story to get you to continue reading, but in my case I couldn't tell if I was confused or if the character was dropping a hint. In the end it will come together into a semblance of a coherent plot. If you can survive that long. The narrator doesn't help as all of her characters speak in the same voice and it is difficult to tell when you move from one portion of the story to the next. It was so irritating to me that I could not enjoy the plot which I think I might have liked had it been told in a more straight forward fashion.
I bought this books based on the listeners' favorable reviews and was not disappointed. The author's strengths are characterization and the slow revelation of complications to the plot. I kept drawing different conclusions before the truth was revealed near the end--and although none of my conclusions were correct, I did not feel tricked by the author, not did the ending seemed contrived. At first, I did not like the narrator's voice, but it grew on me and in retrospect, I believe it was an appropriate choice. I was pleasantly surprised that the ending was not a neat, unrealistically happy one. Highly recommend--it will keep you engaged.
though slow at times, the plot is intriguing and definitely worth sticking with. this debut novel is wonderfully written and the story is not at all predictable. repeated flashbacks make the narration hard to follow, though over time you will become used to the cues to help distinguish who is speaking and in what time period. my chief complaint is that i found the narrator's voice to be annoyingly shrill, especially voiced as "ruth."
I listened to this book some time ago, burned it to cd, and filed it away. A few days ago, during a search for something to listen to on a long drive, I pulled it out and loaded it into the cd player of the car. I loved it as much the second time as I did the first, and was able to pay more attention and actually got more out of it. It is a marvelous story, and well worth burning, keeping and reading over and over again. I know I will.
The book is very evident. 2 hours into it you know everything that will happen. The plot is slow and long. Its not a book I would ever read again and wouldn't have missed it if I had never read it.
The main character does some greatly redeeming things but all along you're wondering, should I like her? She's so... oppressive in her "I know what's best for you" mentality but at the same time, she sacrifices her own happiness for the sake of others in a matter of fact, no pleas for sympathy manner. The end was a surprise for me too and I am known with family and friends as a person who can quickly predict the outcome of a plot. Honestly, I liked not knowing if I liked or disliked the main character... and the end is satisfying. Good story.
I chose this novel because it was an Oprah pick, and it was unabridged (can't stand abridged versions and won't buy). I do have to say that this is a "Chick" novel, but having read other Oprah picks, I took a chance.
I would recommend this for women listeners, and of course men who like a good plot. There is not a lot of action, but the strong foreshadowing by the author lends itself to the listening.
Give it a chance, you won't be sorry.
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