First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
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.
Happy Friday everyone! Another work week has gone. We have survived yet another week, a tough week at the office especially for fellow accountants. Nevertheless, I am hoping you are ending the week with a blast. Hey, the weekend is waving! With another week done, we are inching closer towards the end of the year. But before the year ends, I hope you receive a great news in the coming months. I hope you will reap the benefits of everything you worked hard for this past year. I hope you will end the year with a blast. More importantly, I hope you stay healthy and well, in spirit, in body, and in mind. I am fervently praying that the pandemic will end soon.
But before the week ends, let me discuss first my current read. Over the past few weeks, I have been focusing on the books nominated for the 2021 Booker Prize. I have, so far, read seven books, four from the shortlist and three more from the longlist. Nathan Harris’ The Sweetness of Water is my eighth novel nominated for the prestigious literary award. Unfortunately, it missed out on the shortlist. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to what it has in store. It will also be my last nominated work for a while as I have run out of books from the longlist although two are currently in transit
The Sweetness of Water, Harris’ debut novel, will also serve as my springboard to my transition towards works of American literature. Compared to 2020, the 2021 Booker Prize longlist features lesser debut novels. Apart from The Sweetness of Water, only Patricia Lockwood’s No One Is Talking About This is a debut novel. However, if there is one common denominator for most of this this year’s nominees is the genre to which they can be classified. The longlist is abound with works of historical fiction. And one of them is The Sweetness of Water.
Set in the twilight years of the American Civil War, The Sweetness of Water introduces the readers to George Walker. He and his wife, Isabelle, owns a farm in the fictional town of Old Ox, Georgia. From what I can understand of what I have read so far, their marriage has always been shaky. The cracks and the tensions that have been hovering below the surface started to become more palpable following the death of their only son while fighting in the war. This has created further chasm between the couple. Both were broken but they have their own ways of coping, and each displayed independence. As the couple grapple with their situation, they hired brothers Landry and Prentiss. As part of the Emancipation Proclamation, they were freed. And this is how far I got.
One of the novel’s facets that has caught my attention was its interesting premise, detailing the Reconstruction period in the rural South. From what I have read so far, I assume that the novel revolves around an unexpected friendship that formed during an unexpected time. It is the development of this friendship that is keeping me hooked to the narrative. I still haven’t got to the part that grapples with sexual orientation, about homosexuality. It does appear that the story tackles not only identity but discrimination in post-Civil War south. These are subjects that resonate on the contemporary. It is interesting how Harris interprets and digs deeper into these subjects of conversation.
Another thing that stood out for me is the story’s atmosphere. It is reminiscent to the atmosphere prevailing in Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad. I guess it is fitting for they are both set in, or at least around, the same period. From what I have read so far, I am unable to project how the story is going to develop; it can go in one of many ways. But it is fine for I want to enjoy the experience. If there is one thing I am looking forward to, apart from the exploration of the main subjects, it would be Isabelle’s role. She does loom large in the synopsis so it is interesting how she will tighten all the story’s proverbial threads.
I am hoping to complete the novel in the coming days. How about you fellow reader, what 2021 Booker Prize longlisted book do you have on your reading list? I hope you are enjoying what you are reading. For now, happy weekend and as always, happy reading!