Author: Nathan Harris
Published by: Little Brown and Company on Jun. 15, 2021
Genres: Historical Fiction
Source: HBG Canada
Book Rating: 10/10
In the spirit of The Known World and The Underground Railroad, a profound debut about the unlikely bond between two freedmen who are brothers and the Georgia farmer whose alliance will alter their lives, and his, forever.
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.
Evocative, tragic, and incredibly affecting!
The Sweetness of Water is a powerful, riveting, emotionally-charged tale that sweeps you away to Georgia at the end of the civil war and takes you into the lives of a handful of people, including a lost father, a grieving mother, a returned soldier with a lot of aggression and a secret he will protect at any cost, two brothers recently enslaved who are slowly adapting to their newfound freedom, and a myriad of other southern people struggling to survive and accept the repercussions, fallout, and new way of life caused by their recent defeat by the Union Army.
The prose is sensitive and expressive. The characters are multi-layered, resilient, and vulnerable. And the plot, set during the mid-1860s, is a profoundly moving tale about war, familial relationships, heartbreak, loss, guilt, grief, shame, suspicion, secrets, desperation, resilience, hope, courage, resentment, emancipation, unlikely friendships, and forbidden love.
Overall, The Sweetness of Water is the perfect blend of historical facts, compelling fiction, and palpable emotion. It’s a beautifully written, impactful, stunning debut by Harris that does a remarkable job of highlighting the indomitable spirit of humanity to endure, survive, conquer, forgive, and even love under even the harshest of circumstances.
This book is available now.
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Thank you to HBG Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.