The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve



I give this a 4*

This is a story within a story.  Firstly there is the murders that occurred in 1873.  Then there is the story of the photographer who was given an assignment to photo-journalist to investigate the murders more than one hundred years later.

The murders of two women occurred on the bleak and remote island of Smuttynose, just off the New Hampshire coast, they are Norwegian woman who have emigrated.  Maren and John left Norway first to start their new life, to then be followed by Maren’s sister Karen.  Then by their brother Evan and his new wife Anethe. Maren is the only survivor, spending most of the night until sunrise, hiding in a sea cave.

Jean and her husband Thomas and their daughter Billie are on Rich’s boat. Rich is Thomas’s brother and along with them is Rich’s girlfriend, Adaline.  They visit the Isles of Shoals, of which Smuttynose is one.  Jean researches memoirs, guidebooks, court documents to fulfil her assignment.

We are gradually told of the relationships and child hoods of the family group on Smuttynose.  How they came to be there and how they adapted to their new lives.  The same for the group on the boat a hundred years later.  As we discover more, there is a feeling that somethings are not quite right, an underlying tension peeps its ugly head through the story occasionally.  It could be the mention of something that results in a look or  a glare, a sarcastic comment that is a little sarcastic.  By the end of the book you soon discover that both groups have gone through a loss that will change their lives for ever.

I really enjoyed this book.  It is full of interesting historical content, as well as how hard life could be for those who chose to emigrate for a better life in America.  There has been a lot of research that has gone into this book, this is evident from the list of titles used at the end of the book.  I liked the way the book flitted backwards and forwards through time, as well as in each groups own time as well.

I would recommend this book for readers who like a solid read.  Not hugely dramatic book, but a good story and content to keep a reader interested.


When a photographer researches a legendary crime that took place a century earlier, she immerses herself in the details of the case–and finds herself caught in the grip of an uncontrollable emotion.


Paperback, 246 pages
Published January 7th 1998 by Back Bay Books (first published 1997)
Original Title The Weight of Water
ISBN 0316780375 (ISBN13: 9780316780377)
Edition Language English
setting Isles of Shoals, Maine (United States)



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