Header Image

Review: The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris

Title: The Sweetness of Water
Author: Nathan Harris
Year published: 2021
Category: Adult fiction
Pages: 368 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location: (my 2022 Google Reading map)USA (Georgia)

SummaryIn the waning days of the Civil War, brothers Prentiss and Landry—freed by the Emancipation Proclamation—seek refuge on the homestead of George Walker and his wife, Isabelle. The Walkers, wracked by the loss of their only son to the war, hire the brothers to work their farm, hoping through an unexpected friendship to stanch their grief. Prentiss and Landry, meanwhile, plan to save money for the journey north and a chance to reunite with their mother, who was sold away when they were boys.
Parallel to their story runs a forbidden romance between two Confederate soldiers. The young men, recently returned from the war to the town of Old Ox, hold their trysts in the woods. But when their secret is discovered, the resulting chaos, including a murder, unleashes convulsive repercussions on the entire community. In the aftermath of so much turmoil, it is Isabelle who emerges as an unlikely leader, proffering a healing vision for the land and for the newly free citizens of Old Ox.

Review: I made a great choice for my first book of 2022 (than you Sherri for the recommendation, I know I can always count on my librarian friends!). I somehow missed that this book was an Oprah choice and that it was long listed for the Booker Prize.

The writing in this novel is beautiful. Harris has a way with words, dialogue, emotion, and events that captivated me from the start. I am not someone who tends to re-read passages, but I found myself doing just that.

And the characters. Each of them serves a purpose, holds an important space in the story, serves a purpose, and I found myself sitting with them in between readings. It feels like each character filled a specific part of my reading heart, that may not make sense, but I can't figure out any other way to phrase it. Isabelle in particular resonated with me. She is a woman who has to figure out her life on her own and does just that by being understanding, strong, practical, and open. 

The historical aspects of this novel are also well done, showing reconstruction (post-Civil War) at it's worst and best. Everyone is suffering and struggling, but also making it all work whether that means moving on emotionally or physically. This is a story well told.

Challenges for which this counts:  
  • Alphabet Soup (Author)--H
  • Alphabet Soup (Title)--S
  • Literary Escapes--USA (Georgia)
  • Pop Sugar--Reflected image on the cover

No comments