Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger
Pub. Date: February 16, 2010
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Format: Paperback, 368pp
Sales Rank: 829,913
Synopsis from Barnes and Noble:
From the day Cobb and Mary meet kayaking on Maine's Allagash River and fall deeply in love, the two approach life with the same sense of adventure they use to conquer the river's treacherous rapids. But rivers do not let go so easily...and neither does their love. So when Mary's life takes the cruelest turn, she vows to face those rough waters on her own terms and asks Cobb to promise, when the time comes, to help her return to their beloved river for one final journey.
Set against the rugged wilderness of Maine, the exotic islands of Indonesia, the sweeping panoramas of Yellowstone National Park, and the tranquil villages of rural New England, Eternal on the Water is at once heartbreaking and uplifting — a timeless, beautifully rendered story of true love's power.
I read this book as part of Barnes and Nobles First Look Book Club. This is the fourth first look that I have participated in. Once again it was an excellent book that lent itself very well to discussion and I enjoyed reading other peoples reactions and ideas about the book.
This is a book where you know the ending right from the first page, but to find out how that ending came about you have to read the rest of the book. At first I wasn't sure if I liked starting out with Mary's death. Don't worry, this is not a spoiler, the first sentence of the book is, "They found Mary's body in Round Pond." Knowing that Mary is going to die made me search different scenes and situations with the why behind her death. It also kept me wondering how much of her life she would get to have before that death occurred.
Monninger did a wonderful job with the settings for his novel. He really brought to life the woods in New Hampshire, tropical islands in Indonesia, Yellowstone Park and Mary and Cobb's own backyard. The animals were prominently featured and close to characters on their own. There are beautiful stories and myths about crows, ravens, wolves, bears, turtles and more.
More than being a story about Mary's death, it was a story about someone fully living the time allotted to them on this earth. Towards the end of the novel Mary says,
"Life is so funny. So strange, really. It happens all around you and you can only see this little frame, this moment, and then it goes on. And you never know who is going to star in your life movie. It's always a surprise."
Mary's father died from the effects of Huntington's Disease which is hereditary. Both Mary and her brother Freddy had the option of having a test done to ascertain if they have the gene for the disease. There is no treatment for it and if you have the gene you will develop the disease. Freddy chose to have the test while Mary has decided she wants to live her life fully whether or not she will one day become ill. Not knowing if she has Huntington's makes her wary when things like memory lapses or falls occur because they could indicated the start of the disease or they could just be a benign accident, we all fall and forget from time to time.
Mary and Cobb have a wonderful and caring relationship with each other and with nature. This was a very enjoyable read!