Cover image for The weight of water
The weight of water
Shreve, Anita.
Personal Author:
Library edition.
Publication Information:
Newport Beach, CA : Books on Tape, [1997]

Physical Description:
7 audio discs : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
General Note:

In container (24 cm.)

Compact disc.
Added Author:
Format :
Audiobook on CD


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X V.7 Adult Audiobook on CD Audiobooks
XX(1090486.35) Adult Audiobook on CD Audiobooks

On Order



When a photo-journalist tries to re-visit a century-old murder off the coast of New England, she's seduced by the violent forces of the past

Author Notes

Anita Shreve grew up in Dedham, Massachusetts. After receiving a bachelor's degree in English from Tufts University, she taught high school English for five years before becoming a full-time author. She worked for an English-language magazine in Nairobi and wrote for everything from Cosmopolitan magazine to The New York Times. Her nonfiction books included Remaking Motherhood and Women Together, Women Alone. Her novels included Eden Close, Strange Fits of Passion, Where or When, Fortune's Rocks, Rescue, Stella Bain, and The Stars are Fire. Several of her books were made into movies including The Pilot's Wife, Resistance, and The Weight of Water. She died from cancer on March 29, 2018 at the age of 71.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Shreve, an award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction, has crafted a tour de force that will beguile readers with its depth, passion, and power. Jean a professional photographer, is hired to shoot a photo-essay about a tragic murder that took place in 1873 on Smuttynose Island, off the New Hampshire coast. Two women were brutally hacked to death, and a third barely survived to identify the killer, who was hanged for the crime. Jean persuades her husband, her five-year-old daughter, her brother-in-law, and his girlfriend to accompany her to Smuttynose to photograph the house where the murder was committed. She soon becomes completely absorbed by the sensational case, learning from trial records, newspaper clippings, and the victims' personal journals how the murder wreaked emotional havoc, shattered lives, and destroyed a family forever. But a parallel tragedy, horrifyingly similar to the one in 1873, is about to occur. Just as the murder survivor found that a single moment changed her life forever, so Jean finds that a single action alters everything for her. Shreve's story is at once powerfully affecting and indescribably sorrowful, exploring the tenuous nature of happiness, the frailty of the human psyche, and the catastrophe of unthinking impulse. A masterfully written, riveting must-have for all collections. --Emily Melton

Publisher's Weekly Review

In 1873, two women living on the Isles of Shoals, a lonely, windswept group of islands off the coast of New Hampshire, were brutally murdered. A third woman survived, cowering in a sea cave until dawn. More than a century later, Jean, a magazine photographer working on a photoessay about the murders, returns to the Isles with her husband, Thomas, and their five-year-old daughter, Billie, aboard a boat skippered by her brother-in-law, Rich, who has brought along his girlfriend, Adaline. As Jean becomes immersed in the details of the 19th-century murders, Thomas and Adaline find themselves drawn together-with potentially ruinous consequences. Shreve (Where or When; Resistance) perfectly captures the ubiquitous dampness of life on a sailboat, deftly evoking the way in which the weather comes to dictate all actions for those at sea. With the skill of a master shipbuilder, Shreve carefully fits her two stories together, tacking back and forth between the increasingly twisted murder mystery and the escalating tensions unleashed by the threat of a dangerous shipboard romance. Written with assurance and grace, plangent with foreboding and a taut sense of inexorability, The Weight of Water is a powerfully compelling tale of passion, a provocative and disturbing meditation on the nature of love. Author tour. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In Shreve's latest, a woman who investigates a century-old murder of passion (on the fabulously named Smuttynose Island) finds her own life subtly influenced by those past events. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



I have to let this story go. It is with me all the time now, a terrible weight. I sit in the harbor and look across to Smuttynose. A pink light, a stain, makes its way across the island. I cut the engine of the small boat I have rented and put my fingers into the water, letting the shock of the cold swallow my hand. I move my hand through the seawater, and think how the ocean, this harbor, is a repository of secrets, its own elegy. I was here before. A year ago. I took photographs of the island, of vegetation that had dug in against the weather: black sedge and bayberry and sheep sorrel and sea blite. The island is not barren, but it is sere and bleak. It is granite, and everywhere there are ragged reefs that cut. To have lived on Smuttynose would have required a particular tenacity, and I imagine the people then as dug in against the elements, their roots set into the cracks of the rocks like the plants that still survive. The house in which the two women were murdered burned in 1885, but when I was here a year ago, I photographed the footprint of the house, the marked perimeter. I got into a boat and took pictures of the whitened ledges of Smuttynose and the black-backed gulls that swept and rose above the island in search of fish only they could see. When I was here before, there were yellow roses and blackberries. When I was here before, something awful was being assembled, but I didn't know it then. I take my hand from the water and let the drops fall upon the papers in the carton, dampened already at the edges from the slosh. The pink light turns to violet. Sometimes I think that if it were possible to tell a story often enough to make the hurt ease up, to make the words slide down my arms and away from me like water, I would tell that story a thousand times. (Continues...) Excerpted from The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve Copyright © 1997 by Anita Shreve Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.