In 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.
With candor and sympathy, debut novelist Nathan Harris creates an unforgettable cast of characters, depicting Georgia in the violent crucible of Reconstruction. Equal parts beauty and terror, as gripping as it is moving, The Sweetness of Water is an epic whose grandeur locates humanity and love amid the most harrowing circumstances.
PUBLISHED BY TINDER PRESS
PUBLICATION DATE - 15TH JUNE 2021
This is a beautifully written, understated story that looks into the complexities of human relationships, especially at the time in America when the Civil War had just ended so many people were dealing with loss and a new way of life.
It centres around 2 brothers and their relationship with George, a local man who shuns most human contact and finds it difficult to express his emotions. But the moment he finds these brothers on his land, he seems to connect with them and finds it easier to open up to them than his own wife.
His relationship with these 2 brothers angers many of the locals who find it strange and seems to antagonise many. With his wife on board for his vision for his land, we get to explore a number of relationships and the intricacies that come with them - friends, family, lovers.. - and it's the exploration of the male side of things that I really enjoyed reading about. How awkward someone can be with someone so close, yet so open and free with a 'stranger'.
With resistance from the locals to his plans, George and his family find themselves being shunned because of their relationship with the brothers, and what followed is a story that's full of heartbreak, hope, determination and fight.
The brothers share an extraordinary bond which makes their scenes even more touching, and makes some of the situations they find themselves in even more heartwrenching as things unfold. I loved the style of writing throughout, the action builds up slowly which allows you to connect more to each character and giving a number of characters their own voice allowed you to see more of the picture and understand the times.
A staggering debut and a story that stays with you.
My thanks to amazon vine for the advanced reader copy in return for a fair and honest review.