08 December 2006

Drowning Ruth

No, this book is not a sequal nor it is a prequal to The Book of Ruth I reviewed earlier. In fact the only thing they had in common (besides the protagonist's name) is both are featured in Oprah's Book Club collections. Oh and also there's a murder involve. That makes it two things in common then ;)

Drowning Ruth featured two (okay four if you want to include Mattie and Imogene) women characters, Ruth and Amanda (Aunt Mandy to Ruth). The writer, Christina Schwarz, first introduced to the reader the childhood of Amanda and the events that led her to came back to the farm where her sister Mathilda (Mattie) lives with her daughter Ruth which then a three year old girl. Carl, Mattie's husband has gone off for the First World War.

Because the conditions she's in (thanks to Clement Owens), Amanda deceptively forced Mattie to lives on the Island (where Mattie lives before Carl left for the war). The island will be perfect for hiding the secret she has growing inside of her. Mattie who always the one who likes to lives on the edge agreed despite the fact that winter will coming on soon, and the island would be obsolete from the rest of the world, which exactly the exact reason why Amanda chose to live there.

When Mattie found out Amanda's secret, she was first shocked but being a woman with full of life, she quickly support Amanda and pushes away all visitors that came to the island.

On one faithful night, Mattie mysteriously disappeared and was found days later, frozen in the lake. She had drowned.

Mattie then took care of Ruth, and her secret was given away to Mrs.Lingdren.

When Carl gets home, he found Ruth in Amanda's tenacious grip but gradually Ruth felt at home with his father. As the years gone by, Carl had been wondering what exactly had happened to his wife. Since Amanda will not say a thing about what had happened the night his wife drowned, Carl had been looking for clues which led to a big misunderstanding. He never really knows the truth about what had really happened to Mathilda.

Growing up, the event of her mother's death became more vivid to Ruth. Tormented she found refuge in Imogene and they basically grew up together. The relationship between these two are close. Amanda knowing who Imogene really is kept a close eye on both of them. When Arthur Owens came into the picture, Amanda became restless. This then led to some momentus event and the discovery of what had actually taken place the night Mattie drowned.

Amanda's character is intricately woven and has so many layer which made me felt sorry for her, and sometimes wanted to strangle her myself. I wish for the confrontation between some of the characters when the situation warranted it but I recognize the time period and the limitations they faced on behavioral 'expectation'.

The writer has a gift of pacing the story and makes it a thrill to unravelled the truth. I really enjoys the book although a bit disappointed at the end as I see it as anticlimatic. I will recommend it nevertheless though to both Oprah readers and mystery fans.


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