In this brilliant, luminous novel, one of our finest realist writers gives us a story of surpassing depth and emotional power. Acclaimed for her lucid and compassionate exploration of the American family, Roxana Robinson sets her new work on familiar terrain—New York City and the Adirondacks—but with Sweetwater she transcends the particulars of the domestic sphere with a broader, more encompassing vision. In this poignant account of a young widow and her second marriage, Robinson expands her scope to include the larger natural world as well as the smaller, more intimate one of the home.
Isabel Green’s marriage to Paul Simmons, after the death of her first husband, marks her reconnection to life—a venture she’s determined will succeed. But this proves to be harder than she’d anticipated, and the challenges of starting afresh seem more complicated in adulthood. Staying at the Simmons lodge for their annual summer visit, Isabel finds herself entering into a set of familial complexities. She struggles to understand her new husband, his elderly, difficult parents and his brother, whose relationship with Paul seems oddly fraught. Furthermore, her second marriage begins to cast into sharp relief the troubling echoes of her first. Isabel’s professional life plays a part as well: a passionate environmental advocate, she is aware of the tensions within the mountain landscape itself during a summer of spectacular beauty and ominous drought.
In her cool, elegant prose, Robinson gracefully delivers a plot that is complex, surprising and ultimately wrenching in its impact. As the strands of family are woven tightly and inevitably together, and as the past painfully informs the present, the vivid backdrop of the physical world provides its own eloquent dynamic. Sweetwater is a stunning achievement by a writer at the peak of her craft.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: Sweetwater|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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Chapter OneThe cabin was cool and dark, smelling of wood. Isabel set down her duffel bag inside the front door. Without looking at the unknown rooms on either side, she went straight down the dim hall to the door at the far end, a bright oblong of light. She pushed open the screen and stood looking out over the porch to the lake beyond.
It was late afternoon. The broad lake was still full of light, but across it, on the western shore, was a rising mass of shadow. The water was quiet, the reflections perfectly still: there, in silvery echoes, were the low wooded hills that ringed the lake, with the pure indigo sky above it.
Isabel heard her husband behind her, his footsteps hollow on the bare floorboards. When he reached her, she spoke without turning.
"This is beautiful." It was her first visit here; she had only been married to Paul since February, seven months.
"We like it," Paul said. He had come here every summer of his life, fifty-one years. He stood just behind Isabel, setting his hands on her shoulders. He was tall but lightboned, rangy and lean, without bulk. His hands on her were nearly weightless.
"We're letting the flies out," he said, and Isabel stepped obediently onto the porch, his hands awkwardly still on her.
The outer walls of Acorn Cabin were unpainted shingle, faded to silver gray from decades of Adirondack weather. Beyond the porch's rustic railing-peeled gnarly cedar-the ground sloped down mildly toward the water.
"Let's go to the lake," Isabel said. They had spent the day in the car, driving up from New York, and what she wanted now was air and light, open water. Exploration of the dark rooms of the cabin could wait.