“Yet sometimes—just sometimes—hope was enough.”
In his debut novel, author Nathan Harris shares the story of brothers Prentiss and Landry who’ve been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. They plan to save money for the journey north to find their mother, who was sold when they were boys. George and Isabella Walker hire them to work at their neighboring farm, hoping to stanch their grief over the loss of their only son to the Civil War.
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, Georgia, hold their trysts deep in the woods. The rural community is rocked when their secret is discovered.
The Sweetness of Water is intelligent and gorgeously written—some sentences were so lyrical I got lost in them. Case in point, “The house was pitched with an enveloping blackness. It was neither night nor morning but rather than a long lull of hours between the two, a period of nothingness—one Caleb knew too well.” Wow.
The book includes a wide range of well crafted, distinct characters. Although the author mentioned in an interview that the story came first, he blew life into his characters. A Booker Prize and Goodreads Choice for Historical Fiction nominee, this is an impressive debut by a gifted storyteller. I was, however, uncomfortable with the LGBT content. 4 stars.
** Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free review copy. The opinions are my own.