October 18, 2008

The Water and the Blood

And the lucky winner is.... Katya!

The Water and the Blood: A Novel by Nancy Turner
2001 ReganBooks/HarperCollins Publishers
401 pages
Quit on 10/1/08
Rating: DNF

Product Description

I turned and faced the road we'd come down, my face hard and set. The kids moved on without me. I could still see a slight glow and the murky, gray smoke reaching above the trees, where it spread to the south....

When I thought they were out of earshot, I took a deep breath. "You lied to me," I whispered toward the building, to all the people it represented, to the hours I'd spent on those hard, split-log seats, and to my childish epiphanies born there .... "You lied," I said. "These are my best friends now."

Rare is the gift of a writer who is able to conjure up the voices of very different worlds, to give them heat and power and make them sing. Such is the talent of Nancy E. Turner. Her beloved first novel, These Is My Words, opened readers to the challenges of a woman's life in the nineteenth-century Southwest. Now this extraordinary writer shifts her gaze to a very different world -- East Texas in the years of the Second World War -- and to the life of a young woman named Philadelphia Summers, known against her will as Frosty.

From the novel's harrowing opening scene, Frosty's eyes survey the landscape around her -- white rural America -- with the awestruck clarity of an innocent burned by sin. In her mother and sisters she sees fear and small-mindedness; in the eyes of local boys she sees racial hatred and hunger for war. When that war finally comes, it offers her a chance for escape - to California, and the caring arms of Gordon Benally a Native-American soldier. But when she returns to Texas she must face the rejection of a town still gripped by suspicion -- and confront the memory of the crime that has marked her soul since adolescence.

Propelled by the quiet power of one woman's voice, The Water and the Blood is a moving and unforgettable portrait of an America of haunted women and dangerous fools -- an America at once long perished and with us still.

I loved Nancy These Is My Words (in spite of the awkward-sounding title!); it made my Top Ten List for 2003 and I gave several copies to friends and relatives that year for Christmas. The following is a rough excerpt from my reading journal:

These is My Words (Nancy Turner)
Historical Fiction
Rating: A+ (10/10 Excellent! One of the best books I've ever read!)

After a lukewarm start (only lasting a few pages), I fell in love with this marvelous, coming-of-age story of courage, family, love and loss. The epistolary style is a favorite of mine and I was easily convinced the diary could really be true (it's not, though). This book has something for everyone. Indian raids. Romantic tension. Humor and drama (snakes!). Suspense. History. I laughed and cried and didn't want to finish reading this gem. It's definitely a keeper and I plan to read it again someday. Sarah and Jack's story will stay with me always. This is one of those books full of favorite passages that I want to share with everyone, but won't because it would spoil the enjoyment should they decide to read it for themselves.

After reading such a wonderful book, I was thrilled to receive a copy of The Water and the Blood from my brother and sister-in-law the following year on my birthday. Jen loved These Is My Words just as much as I did and was eager to hear what I thought of Turner's stand-alone novel. As it typically goes around here, the book didn't get read right away and wound up on a shelf for several years. Late last month, I was anxious to find a good novel to get engrossed in for our trip out to Virginia Beach and decided this was the book. Unfortunately, after struggling with close to fifty pages, I decided to give it up. It's difficult, after more than two weeks' lapse, to pinpoint the problems with the narrative. It could easily have been poor timing, as I was obviously quite distracted with our situation in Virginia.

It's a shame The Water and the Blood didn't live up to my expectations. However, I have the sequel (Sarah's Quilt: A Novel of Sarah Agnes Prine and the Arizona Territories, 1906) to These Is My Words in my stacks and I'm quite confident I won't be disappointed. It comes highly recommended by several who loved These Is My Words as much as I did. I doubt I'll let it sit on a shelf for four years!

If anyone is interested in this book, leave me a comment and I'll draw a name next weekend.


  1. I loved These is My Words, but felt utterly let down by Sarah's Quilt. I was kind of hoping that the 3rd one would be back to the promise shown in the first. Oh well.

  2. These is My Words may just be my favorite book. But, I couldn't read this one either. I'm glad I'm not the only one! I think you'll love Sarah's Quilt and Star Garden though. :)

  3. Bummer. I don't want to waste time in checking it out for myself, so I think I'll pass on this one. I really enjoyed These Is My Words and haven't read Sarah's Quilt either.

  4. It's too bad that it didn't live up to These is My Words, which I haven't read yet. It's on my TBR, but I think I'll pass on The Water and the Blood. Thanks for the warning.

  5. SuziQ - Oh, dear. I hope I enjoy Sarah's Quilt more than you did. Have you read the third? I wasn't sure by your comment.

    Tricia - Wasn't it a great book?! I have so many passages marked. Definitely one I want to read again. Maybe before I read Sarah's Quilt... Am I correct to assume you've read and loved both sequels?

    Joy - I'll let you know if Sarah's Quilt lives up to TIMW. Doesn't hurt to hope, does it?

    Teddy Rose - Oh, you are in for a treat if you haven't yet read TIMW! Captain Jack is such a memorable character... :)

  6. Les: no, I haven't read the 3rd Sarah Prine book (The Star Garden). Not sure whether or not I will. I'm thinking of waiting to hear what others think about it first.

  7. What an impressive blog. I only manage a book a week (not like past years.)

  8. SuziQ - I'll probably read it only if I like Sarah's Quilt. I let ya know!

    Michael - Thanks for stopping by! You're reading about as much as I am. I used to average 8-10 a month, but now I'm lucky if I read 4-5. After being a stay-at-home mom for many years (and later a nanny to my two nieces), I went to work for Barnes & Noble. Who knew working in a bookstore (my dream job, by the way) would interfere with my reading time!

  9. I haven't read any of these books -- I was hoping to see a good review of this book though because I love the title.

  10. SuziQ - Did you want me to throw your name in the hat for this one?

    Katya - How about you? Were you interested in winning this book?

  11. Oh I hate it when a book doesn't live up to my expectations. I've not read These Is My Words but I'm going to have to check that out. No need to add me in the drawing Les as I think I'd rather check out her other book first :)

  12. Sure, Les -- if no one else has gotten it by now -- why not.

  13. Katya - It's yours! I'll send you an email to get your address.

  14. Iliana - You are in for quite a treat with These Is My Words. I've had good luck hand selling it at work. Several customers have come back to tell me how much they loved it!

  15. I've read every one of turner's books and loved them all...including Water & the Blood. Maybe, when you've got some time to waste, you might give it another chance.

  16. Sleec Photos - I'm glad to hear that her other books are so good. I'm anxious to read the sequels to These Is My Words. Not sure if I'll ever get back to W&B since I just mailed it out to a friend. Maybe some day if I wind up with another copy.

    Thanks for visiting my book blog.


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