Anita Shreve grew up in Dedham, Massachusetts. After graduating from Tufts University, she taught high school for a number of years in and around Boston.
She started writing short stories. One of these, “Past the Island, Drifting,” won an O. Henry prize. She later switched to journalism and travelled to Nairobi, Kenya, where she lived for three years, working as a journalist for an African magazine. One of her novels, The Last Time They Met, contains bits and pieces from her time in Africa.
In 1989, she published her first novel, Eden Close. Since then she has written 12 other novels, among them The Weight of Water, The Last Time They Met, A Wedding in December, and Body Surfing.
In 1998, Ms. Shreve received the PEN/L. L. Winship Award and the New England Book Award for fiction. In 1999, she received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey, and The Pilot’s Wife became the 25th selection of Oprah’s Book Club and an international bestseller. In April 2002, the film version of The Pilot’s Wife was aired and thereafter The Weight of Water was released in movie theaters.
On a beach in New Hampshire in 1899, a young woman is drawn into a disastrous journey to adulthood. Olympia Biddeford is the only child of a prominent Boston couple. She is a precocious, well-educated young woman on the verge of discovering her own sexuality. Her summer at the family’s annual vacation home in Fortune’s Rocks is transformed by the arrival of a doctor who happens to be a friend of her father. Olympia is captivated by his thought processes and humanitarian efforts and she is overwhelmed by her irresistible sexual desire for him. The doctor is married, a father and more than twice her age, and they come together in a hopeless passionate affair.
Olympia is cast out of the world she knows, and this is the story of her determination to reinvent her broken life and claim what she discovers she cannot live without.
This is the second book by this author that I have read, the first being The Pilot’s Wife (see my review on that book too!). I loved that book, and I enjoyed this one even more.
It is a profound and moving story about unwise love and the consequences of the choices we make. It is also a study on the erotic life of women and an exploration of class prejudices. Olympia is an unforgettable young woman, 15 years old and an unlikely heroine.
The narrative drama is beautifully and soulfully written. Ms. Shreve writes in the present tense which helps to make the reading experience immediate although being set in a period more than 100 years go. It is easy to relate to the main characters, and the intensity of their intimacy is very believable.
If you’re looking for a compelling read and an unusual love story, I recommend this book!