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Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz

Drowning Ruth (edition 2000)

by Christina Schwarz

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3,114521,810 (3.52)65
Title:Drowning Ruth
Authors:Christina Schwarz
Info:Doubleday (2000), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 338 pages
Collections:Your library

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Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz


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English (50)  Vietnamese (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (52)
Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
I didn't like this book much, but I did want to know what had happened. I think my main problem with this book was that I found all of the main characters unlikeable. Up until about 3/4 of the book there wasn't one character that I liked reading about. All selfish people and cowards without any backbone. The first one I kinda liked was Ruth when she got a little older. The story in itself does have some good twists. ( )
  Vonini | May 14, 2015 |
Did not like it...very depressing. ( )
  Swissmama | Apr 8, 2015 |
There's nothing more debilitating than a family secret, especially when only one or two people know the truth about what really happened. Skeletons in the proverbial closet eat away at sanity and transform reality into a nightmarish place where terrible things could happen to the secret-keepers if anyone found out.

Such is the life that Amanda Starkey lives in Christina Schwarz's psychological thriller, Drowning Ruth.

In 1919, Amanda comes home to Milwaukee to live with her sister Mathilda and Mathilda's daughter Ruth, three years old, while Mathilda's husband is away at war. Their idyllic home life together, much like the close one the sisters shared growing up, is shattered when Mathilda vanishes one night. Her body is discovered under the ice on a nearby lake.

No one knows what happened except Amanda, who is brittle and grimly determined not to tell anyone, and Ruth, who remembers the events of that night in glimpses and flashes. Amanda settles down to raise Ruth and to face Mathilda's husband when he returns home to find his wife missing.

Schwarz does a spectacular job building tension from the very first line: "Ruth remembered drowning." (Who wouldn't want to keep reading after that?)

Part of her strategy to maintain the tension and reader interest comes from her deft use of multiple points of view throughout the story, even mixing first-person perspectives with third-person perspectives to give several different angles on the same scene or event. Amanda's voice, for instance, is defensive and secretive as she fights to hide what she knows.

The historical setting is beautifully crafted. Dialogue between the characters is rich and realistic. And the growing sense the reader has of something having gone terribly, terribly wrong that one dark night is what kept me turning pages far into the few nights it took me to (ravenously) finish the book.

That final conclusion, the last revelation, is as satisfying an ending as is demanded by the first line of the entire novel.

Drowning Ruth, an Oprah's Book Club pick and #1 New York Times bestseller, is a thriller I can heartily and without hesitation recommend; its twists and turns will keep you guessing to the last page.

# # #

Title: Drowning Ruth
Author: Christina Schwarz
ISBN: 978-0-345-43910-9
Purchase here: http://amzn.to/1nSnq3R

Disclaimer: The opinions I have expressed are my own. ( )
  Eleanore_Trupkiewicz | Oct 29, 2014 |
I'm not sure how i felt about this book. At times, I loved it. At times, i found it tedious. At times i found it endearing. And at times, I found it annoying.

Many friends loved the book. I didn't love it. I enjoyed the parts of the story told by Ruth the most, I found Aunt Mandy to be tedious and more than a little bit shelfish.

So I'm not sure if I would ever reccomend it to anyone. But if I saw someone picking it up, I wouldn't say "put it down" either. ( )
1 vote | lmm161 | Mar 30, 2014 |
A brief impressionist painting of what it’s about: two sisters on a farm in Wisconsin around the time of WWI. An ominous lake with an island. A mysterious drowning. Matchmaking. Secrets. Madness brought about by despair. The long reach of the past, which sometimes cannot be outrun.

A brief review: it’s a very plot-driven book which is always a bit limiting for me personally, but the story is well put together and well told, unfolded through different perspectives and in layers of past and present through to the last page.

On breaking up:
“Clement swam so close that the spray thrown up by his kicking wet my cheeks. Wasn’t this enough, more than enough? Our happiness, after all, had once been real, even if he’d lied to spur it on. Why had I, in insisting that I be the most prized, the only beloved, hidden myself away from such delights?”

“I dropped my hands to my sides, but I knew why I couldn’t find a rip, although I thought I’d torn free. The simple truth was, she’d wormed her way in so deep, I’d never get her out. If I changed my name and went to the ends of the earth and never came back, still she wouldn’t let go. She was stuck like a burr in my hair. No, it was deeper than that – she was inside me like a bone or an organ. She’d seeped into my blood with the air I sucked into my lungs.”

On poo. I laughed over this one; like me Schwarz is from Wisconsin but I don’t ever recall thinking this while driving through farmlands:
“It was a morning ripe with the smell of manure, an odor acrid when it first penetrated the nostrils, but compelling and pleasant like a good cheese the longer it clung to the air.”

And then later:
“By the time she reached the playground the sun had begun to set in crimson streaks and the manure had mellowed in the cool of the evening so that it now just seasoned the air with a hint of organic richness.” ( )
2 vote gbill | Nov 29, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
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To Ben ~~~ and in memory of Louise Baecke Claeys (1902-1999) ~~~ and Marfa
First words
Ruth remembered drowning.
…already his memory had lost the range of her expressions. He could summon her only in a few guises – glimpses of her face that for no particular reason had stuck in his mind.
… somehow they’d settled into a family at last, the various tasks of life divided comfortably among them, and the days now turned like a wheel with three spokes.
They felt an affection for one another based on their old love and sustained by avoiding personal conversation.
She was bone tired of all this running and hiding, of living alone with a monstrous hump of truth strapped to her back.
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Book description
The circumstances of the drowning of Ruth's mother serves as the catalyst that precipitates an intriguing flow of interrelated events in the lives of Amanda (the drowned woman's sister) and her neice Ruth.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345439104, Paperback)

Oprah Book Club® Selection, September 2000: For 19th-century novelists--from Jane Austen to George Eliot, Flaubert to Henry James--social constraint gave a delicious tension to their plots. Yet now our relaxed morals and social mobility have rendered many of the classics untenable. Why shouldn't Maisie know what she knows? It will all come out in family therapy anyway. The vogue for historical novels depends in part on our pleasure in reentering a world of subtle cues and repressed emotion, a time in which a young woman could destroy her life by saying yes to the wrong man. After all, there was no reliable birth control, no divorce, no chance of an independent life or a scandal-free separation.

Christina Schwarz's suspenseful debut pivots on two of the lost "virtues" of the past: silence and stoicism. Drowning Ruth opens in 1919, on the heels of the influenza epidemic that followed the First World War. Although there were telephones and motor cars and dance halls in the small towns of Wisconsin in those years, the townspeople remained rigid and forbidding. As a young woman, Amanda Starkey, a Lutheran farmer's daughter, had been firmly discouraged from an inappropriate marriage with a neighboring Catholic boy. A few years later, as a nurse in Milwaukee, she is seduced by a dishonorable man. Her shame sends her into a nervous breakdown, and she returns to the family farm. Within a year, though, her beloved sister Mathilde drowns under mysterious circumstances. And when Mathilde's husband, Carl, returns from the war, he finds his small daughter, Ruth, in Amanda's tenacious grip, and she will tell him nothing about the night his wife drowned. Amanda's parents, too, are long gone. "I killed my parents. Had I mentioned that?" muses Amanda.

I killed them because I felt a little fatigued and suffered from a slight, persistent cough. Thinking I was overworked and hadn't been getting enough sleep, I went home for a short visit, just a few days to relax in the country while the sweet corn and the raspberries were ripe. From the city I brought fancy ribbon, two boxes of Ambrosia chocolate, and a deadly gift... I gave the influenza to my mother, who gave it to my father, or maybe it was the other way around.
Schwarz is a skillful writer, weaving her grim tale across several decades, always returning to the fateful night of Mathilde's death. Drowning Ruth displays her gift for pacing and her harsh insistence on the right ending, rather than the cheery one. --Regina Marler

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:30 -0400)

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Worn out from nursing soldiers at a Milwaukee hospital and struggling to recover from a traumatic love affair, Amanda Starkey returns to her family's rural Wisconsin farm to stay with her beloved sister, Mattie, and a young niece, Ruth. An Oprah Book Club selection and bestseller in hardcover, Drowning Ruth, now in paperback, is a stunning portrait of the ties that bind sisters together and the forces that tear them apart. Schwarz's first novel explores themes of family love, sibling rivalry, duty, loyalty, and a possible murder.… (more)

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