In March of 1873, two women were brutally murdered on an island off the New Hampshire coast. Though a suspect was tried and charged, the legend of what really happened on Smuttynose Island continues to this day.
Jean is a photojournalist tagged to capture the uninhabited island's present state and examine its notorious history. She's on a boat with her husband Tom and their 5 year-old daughter, Billie. Tom's brother-in-law and his girlfriend Adaline are also onboard, making for cramped quarters.
The marital tension is thick on the boat so Jean pours herself into her work on the isolated island. She's obtained a handwritten description of the murders as witnessed by Maren Hontvedt, the only survivor.
The Weight of Water follows each story, Maren's and Jean's, weaving them into one solid novel. Shreve's visual writing transports readers to the desolate island so they can experience the very same elements the characters endure.
Water plays a huge part in this tale, as it does with other Shreve novels. The characters are surrounded by water, trapped in it or suffocating from it. Shreve's ability to push forward the tale is even more impressive given the small size of the setting.
The Weight of Water moves between the events leading up to the murder, the subsequent trial and the present tale. Shreve's process is quite fluid and the story flows smoothly. The ending is a stunner, though debriefing is minimal. Readers are left to wonder why and how certain events happened and aren't given room to come down before the book abruptly ends.
Despite the fact that there's not enough closure, The Weight of Water is still a compelling tale. Anita Shreve is one of my favorite authors. Her works shouldn't be missed.