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Summary

An Obama Summer Reading Choice and New York Times best seller

An extraordinary novel of life after slavery for listeners of Washington Black, The Underground Railroad and Days without End.

In the dying days of the American Civil War, newly freed brothers Landry and Prentiss find themselves cast into the world without a penny to their names. Forced to hide out in the woods near their former Georgia plantation, they're soon discovered by the land's owner, George Walker, a man still reeling from the loss of his son in the war.

When the brothers begin to live and work on George's farm, the tentative bonds of trust and union begin to blossom between the strangers. But this sanctuary survives on a knife's edge, and it isn't long before the inhabitants of the nearby town of Old Ox react with fury at the alliances being formed only a few miles away.

©2021 Nathan Harris (P)2021 Hachette Audio

Critic reviews

"Better than any debut novel has a right to be." (Richard Russo)

"A fine, lyrical novel, impressive in its complex interweaving of the grand and the intimate, of the personal and political." (Observer)

"[A] highly accomplished debut." (Sunday Times)

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What listeners say about The Sweetness of Water

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A great read! 👏🏾👏🏾

I wasn't sure I would enjoy this book because sometimes, as a black person, reading about black trauma can be exhausting and triggering. I gave this book a chance and I'm glad I did. It is set in Georgia following the abolition of slavery at the end of the American Civil War. The story focuses mainly on George Walker, his wife Isabelle, their son Caleb, and two brothers Prentiss and Landry. The author is extremely talented and every page made me want to carry on until I had devoured the entire book. I liked the character development and the way each of his characters appeared to be well thought out. The hype this novel has received is justifed. Great job Mr Harris.

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Stunning

This is a remarkable achievement for a first novel, deserving the many rave reviews - see the main Amazon site. The pleasure of it was so much enhanced by William DeMerritt’s narration, with the wonderful Southern drawl and his vivid characterisations, something I could never have captured by reading the text. First-rate.

5 people found this helpful

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Beautifully Written Excellent Narration

Loved this - it will stay with me and I highly recommend it. Such a tender tale set in a harsh time in history.

3 people found this helpful

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I loved it as much as expected to

I knew this was going to be a good book when I saw it on Barack Obama and Oprah’s recommended reading lists and I was not disappointed.

The characters in this book are so relatable, well developed and well narrated that I felt fully invested in each persons story. The storyline itself was simultaneously heartbreaking, hopeful and inspiring, full of genuine love. I know one day I will listen to this book again and I already look forward to it.

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A little bit overhyped

it's been nominated for several awards but the actual plot itself is quite weak and offers very little in terms of a deep engagement with the complexities of being human. Ultimately it would make for very good beach reading and indeed feels like it's been written for serialisation.

2 people found this helpful

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Loved it

I loved this book. It is beautifully written and the characters are clearly observed. The theme of the supposed end of slavery in America after their Civil War is thought provoking. I found William DeMeritt’s gentle and sensitive narration enabled me to immerse myself fully into the story.

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Fantastic narrator

Really good story but it times felt it dragged. Wonderful narrator. Recommend this book.

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This wasn't for me

This wasn't for me It felt too dry and drawn out, props to the narrator though

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Glad I stayed with it

A little put off by the alow start and strong accents, this built quite quickly into a really good story and the narration improved it further. Interesting slice of American history.

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Definitely worth reading

The author’s prose is descriptively complex which I enjoyed most of the time but found it got a bit ponderous and heavy in places. The narrator’s voice worked well and was helpful in the main for bringing characters to life although I did struggle listening to John Wayne speaking as one of the people! None the less, I would recommend this book and I’m sure it will be discussed at many a book club for the issues it raised and underlying themes. I think it’s a story that will linger in my mind for quite some time.

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  • BARBARA mANNING
  • 12-05-22

wonderful and powerful read

beautiful narration. what a wonderful read. Beautifully written. will stay wifh me fir a long

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  • P. Thurman
  • 05-01-22

Beautiful prose

I was captivated by the eloquent words beginning this novel. Mr. Harris has a great style and I believe that bodes well for his future.
Regarding the characters in the book, I found few of them to be particularly likable. Still, they had a story to tell, though often in a rambling, mildly irritating way.
If there was anything I disliked about the book, it was the lack of attention paid to realism of the period. The Walkers live in what is described as a cabin, yet it has a study, a bathroom and a kitchen sink. Also, there seems to be no issue with money or food or clothing in post-war, Reconstruction-era Georgia. These problems seem to have been overlooked and that makes no sense to me.
As for the narrator, his voice was pleasant for the most part, and the accents weren’t so terrible as usual.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-09-21

Exceptional performance

This is a nice story, full of optimism. Some may find it a bit too much of wishful thinking. But the performance of the reader was excellent. He should get an award for this.