Synopsis from Hachette Book Group:
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.
About: The Sweetness of Water is an African American historical fiction written by Nathan Harris. It was recently published on 6/15/2021 by Little, Brown and Company, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, hardcover, 368 pages. The genres are African American, historical fiction, LGBT, and Civil War. According to the publisher’s website, “Our Vision: To be the #1 destination for authors, agents, customers, client publishers, and employees. To be a respected publisher that values diversity, nurtures talent, rewards success, and honors its responsibilities. To be market focused in all we do, and to lead change in popular culture. To anticipate change, foster creativity, and encourage risk-taking and innovation.” Please see below for more information about the author and publisher.
My Experience: I started reading The Sweetness of Water on 7/2/2021 and finished it on 7/11/2021. A fantastic read! Loved the characters and their individual story so much! The story as a whole was excellent. I’m not sure who I loved more: Isabelle, Prentiss, Landry, George or Caleb. Each of their stories just moved my heart and I couldn’t stop reading about them. I loved how Isabelle told off those women. She really knew how to stand up to bullies with her words. George was brave for doing things against the tide. I liked how he treated colored people with respect at a time where colored people are treated as slaves. I liked both George and Isabelle’s ways with words as well as Prentiss’. I read this story a bit slower than normally because I enjoyed the author’s writing and reread many paragraphs and conversations. Loved it when the title made its way into the story.
This book followed George, told in the third person point of view. He’s been out tracking an animal all day in his 200-acre wood. He lost track of time and darkness fell. He felt pain and aches in his body and sat on a log to rest. As his eyes adjusted to the dark, he saw two brothers, Landry and Prentiss sat across from him. They were recently freed slaves from his neighbor’s house. Instead of walking the streets, they went into the woods for peace and quiet and got lost in George’s land. With Prentiss’ help, George got home safely. George was out in the woods to also digest the news he received about his son who served in the Civil War. He was afraid to tell his wife Isabelle. The second view was Isabelle. She had a secret of her own so George’s silent of his day in the woods wasn’t as irritating to her as it would have been. The third view was Prentiss. He and his brother’s slavery days are over thanks to the announcement of emancipation. They have been a slave to Morton together since they were kids with their mom. They liked the woods for peace and quiet especially Landry. George’s been selling off his land to avoid working but now he’s planning to grow peanuts and he wanted to hire Prentiss and his brother. Prentiss initially rejected the idea thinking that he just rid of a master that he’s not looking to have another one. But George said he will pay wages. There’s a surprise fourth view.
The Sweetness of Water was well written and developed. I’m blown away that this book was even a debut. Caleb really surprised me with his last minute plan. That twist about the fire was definitely unexpected but I do liked the turn of events. An awesome way to handle bullies. The romance was good coverage, but I wanted more. I felt heartbroken for Prentiss when he had no control over the separation from his mom and even more with his dad. I liked the brothers relationship. Isabelle surprised me in the end with her devotion to keeping up with what George had started. I just wish George told her before he left that he loved her. Still, an excellent read nonetheless and I highly recommend everyone to read this book!
I rate it 5 stars!
About the Author:
Nathan Harris, a native of Oregon, is a Michener Fellow at the University of Texas. He was awarded the Kidd Prize, as judged by Anthony Doerr, and was also a finalist for the Tennessee Williams Fiction Prize. He lives in Austin, Texas. (Photo obtained from Publisher Weekly and info obtained from Hachette’s website).
More Information about Little, Brown and Company
***Disclaimer: Many thanks to Little, Brown and Company for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest.