There is such quiet power in this fateful novel, present from the start and gathering to its culmination: a story of loss and remarriage and of the harm done to and by vulnerable men and women. This is cool, intrepid writing, not a word wasted, creating a human tension that reflects our endangered world.
Isabel Green’s marriage to Paul Simmons, after the death of her first husband, marks her reconnection to life — a venture she’s determined will succeed. But this proves to be harder than she’d anticipated, and the challenges of starting afresh seem more complicated in adulthood. Staying at the Simmons lodge for their annual summer visit, Isabel finds herself entering into a set of familial complexities. She struggles to understand her new husband, his elderly, difficult parents and his brother, whose relationship with Paul seems oddly fraught. Furthermore, her second marriage begins to cast into sharp relief the troubling echoes of her first. Isabel’s professional life plays a part as well: a passionate environmental advocate, she is aware of the tensions within the mountain landscape itself during a summer of spectacular beauty and ominous drought.
Sweetwater succeeds as a moving study of a woman’s emergence from a suffocating life.
Writing with rapturous intensity of nature both wild and human, Robinson forges a love story of unusual complexity and satisfaction.
Sweetwater abounds with grace notes, for sure, but never at the expense of hard-won, painful truths. This is domestic fiction with bite.
[Robinson] is a master at moving from the art of description to the work of excavating the truths about ourselves.
Abundant in poetic language and incisive imagery, Robinson unfolds what seems, at first, to be a subdued story about relationships and love but which slowly reveals ever-dilating depth and breadth.