Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz

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Deftly written and emotionally powerful, Drowning Ruth is a stunning portrait of the ties that bind sisters together and the forces that tear them apart, of the dangers of keeping secrets and the explosive repercussions when they are exposed. A mesmerizing and achingly beautiful debut.
Winter, 1919. Amanda Starkey spends her days nursing soldiers wounded in the Great War. Finding herself suddenly overwhelmed, she flees Milwaukee and retreats to her family's farm on Nagawaukee Lake, seeking comfort with her younger sister, Mathilda, and three-year-old niece, Ruth. But very soon, Amanda comes to see that her old home is no refuge--she has carried her troubles with her. On one terrible night almost a year later, Amanda loses nearly everything that is dearest to her when her sister mysteriously disappears and is later found drowned beneath the ice that covers the lake. When Mathilda's husband comes home from the war, wounded and troubled himself, he finds that Amanda has taken charge of Ruth and the farm, assuming her responsibility with a frightening intensity. Wry and guarded, Amanda tells the story of her family in careful doses, as anxious to hide from herself as from us the secrets of her own past and of that night.
Ruth, haunted by her own memory of that fateful night, grows up under the watchful eye of her prickly and possessive aunt and gradually becomes aware of the odd events of her childhood. As she tells her own story with increasing clarity, she reveals the mounting toll that her aunt's secrets exact from her family and everyone around her, until the heartrending truth is uncovered.
Guiding us through the lives of the Starkey women, Christina Schwarz's first novel shows her compassion and a unique understanding of the American landscape and the people who live on it.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Christina Schwarz

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Christina Schwarz is the author of three previous novels, including the Oprah Book Club pick Drowning Ruth. Born and raised in rural Wisconsin, she lives in Southern California.
Published November 19, 2008 by Ballantine Books. 370 pages
Genres: History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Action & Adventure, Biographies & Memoirs, War. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Drowning Ruth

Kirkus Reviews

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In the years that follow, Carl and Amanda share responsibility for raising Ruth, maintaining an uneasy truce even as he struggles against her evasions to understand exactly how and why Mattie drowned.

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Publishers Weekly

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Ruth remembered drowning. The first sentence of this brilliantly understated psychological thriller leaps off the page and captures the reader's imagination. In Schwarz's debut novel, brutal Wisco

Jul 31 2000 | Read Full Review of Drowning Ruth

Publishers Weekly

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After Carl comes home, Amanda and he manage to work together on the farm and parent Ruth, but their arrangement is strained: Amanda has a breakdown and recuperates at a sanatorium.

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Book Reporter


Jan 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Drowning Ruth

AV Club

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Before Christina Schwarz's debut novel Drowning Ruth was even published, director Wes Craven had optioned it.

Mar 29 2002 | Read Full Review of Drowning Ruth

Lit Lovers

Drowning Ruth is a remarkable debut: surprising, unsettling and sure.Maile Meloy - New York Times Book Review [T]his unusually deft and assured first novel conveys a good deal more than thrills and chills.Paul Gray - Time"Ruth remembered drowning."

Mar 06 2014 | Read Full Review of Drowning Ruth

Reading for Sanity

Id love this book (drowning Ruth) but alas amazon or anywhere else dont sell to Australian kindle holders.

Aug 03 2009 | Read Full Review of Drowning Ruth


Schwarz shifts viewpoints repeatedly, from Amanda, to Ruth, to an omniscient observer, and back again.

Oct 23 2000 | Read Full Review of Drowning Ruth


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Mar 06 2014 | Read Full Review of Drowning Ruth

The Copperfield Review

Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz is a haunting suspense novel set during and after World War I.

May 11 2012 | Read Full Review of Drowning Ruth

All Readers

Drowning Ruth is a novel written about the affects of keeping a deep, dark secret ... Nagawaukee in Wisconsin, which is coincidentally where Christina Schwarz ...

Mar 06 2014 | Read Full Review of Drowning Ruth

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