Told with a split focus that zooms in and out of individual characters’ lives, Sarah Moss’s Summerwater has moments of startling beauty though the book suffers from too much setup with little payoff.
Told over the course of a single rainy day, Moss’s characters all push the limits of what they should be able to do safely. Justine runs in the rain willing herself to complete a lengthy course despite her bad heart. David, bored with his marriage of thirty-plus years to a woman he doesn’t dislike so much as he is apathetic about, drives too fast to test whether or not he can control the speed. Milly and Josh trying to have sex in his mother’s house as she thinks about everything from Don Draper to Scandinavian furniture to the Holocaust. And so on.
Interspersed between these interludes are poetic intercalary chapters that reflect on the land, animals, the sky, the weather, and all bearing an ominous undertone. They are lovely in construction, but the “she” referenced within them—revealed to be a vixen (female fox) late in the book—is a bit of a letdown. And latter character-based chapters turn to those secondary figures from the earlier part of the book, but the nonlinear structure does little to develop much more than a sense of wondering what this book could have been had Moss chosen to tell the story of Summerwater directly rather than refracted like images reflected through shattered glass.
|Page Count||208 pages|
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