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Publisher's Summary

An Obama Summer Reading Choice and New York Times Best Seller

An extraordinary novel of life after slavery for listeners of Washington Black, The Underground Railroad and Days without End.

In the dying days of the American Civil War, newly freed brothers Landry and Prentiss find themselves cast into the world without a penny to their names. Forced to hide out in the woods near their former Georgia plantation, they're soon discovered by the land's owner, George Walker, a man still reeling from the loss of his son in the war.

When the brothers begin to live and work on George's farm, the tentative bonds of trust and union begin to blossom between the strangers. But this sanctuary survives on a knife's edge, and it isn't long before the inhabitants of the nearby town of Old Ox react with fury at the alliances being formed only a few miles away.

©2021 Nathan Harris (P)2021 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Better than any debut novel has a right to be." (Richard Russo)

"A fine, lyrical novel, impressive in its complex interweaving of the grand and the intimate, of the personal and political." (Observer)

"[A] highly accomplished debut." (Sunday Times)

What listeners say about The Sweetness of Water

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Exceptional performance

This is a nice story, full of optimism. Some may find it a bit too much of wishful thinking. But the performance of the reader was excellent. He should get an award for this.

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  • Camdavid
  • 07-14-21

Stunning

This is a remarkable achievement for a first novel, deserving the many rave reviews - see the main Amazon site. The pleasure of it was so much enhanced by William DeMerritt’s narration, with the wonderful Southern drawl and his vivid characterisations, something I could never have captured by reading the text. First-rate.

4 people found this helpful

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  • AJCW
  • 09-26-21

Beautifully Written Excellent Narration

Loved this - it will stay with me and I highly recommend it. Such a tender tale set in a harsh time in history.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-25-21

I loved it as much as expected to

I knew this was going to be a good book when I saw it on Barack Obama and Oprah’s recommended reading lists and I was not disappointed.

The characters in this book are so relatable, well developed and well narrated that I felt fully invested in each persons story. The storyline itself was simultaneously heartbreaking, hopeful and inspiring, full of genuine love. I know one day I will listen to this book again and I already look forward to it.

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  • DeltaAlphaXray
  • 08-16-21

A little bit overhyped

it's been nominated for several awards but the actual plot itself is quite weak and offers very little in terms of a deep engagement with the complexities of being human. Ultimately it would make for very good beach reading and indeed feels like it's been written for serialisation.

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  • Ninaminacat
  • 10-25-21

Exceptionally good performance of an emotive novel

This astonishing debut novel is about so much more than the consequences of a small landholder offering two freedmen paid work on his land. It's about racism, yet also about love and human relationships and about individuals' perceptions of how well they can know someone else, the common ground which they share but equally the rift between them; it's also about courage and second chances; it can plumb the depths of despair, while also offering hope, and about holding on to personal ideals in the face of opposition; more concisely, it reveals so much about what it means to be a human being.

The characters are so well written (and so superbly performed by William DeMeritt) that I felt I knrw them personally, a fact which led to some heart stopping moments, since I was sufficiently invested in the protagonists to only wanted the best for them. It's only the ending over which I am torn; initially I found it somewhat unsatisfying but, on reflection, I began to wonder if it weren't a clever way of putting the reader in the same position as the characters.

I am sorry that this emotive novel, which captures both the characters and the historical setting so decisively, hasn't been included in the Man Booker Prize shortlist, though it was, of course, long- listed. I hope it will succeed further with another award - and I shall certainly be looking out for the future works of Nathan Harris.

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  • Mr. J. E. Deane
  • 09-25-21

Good story, slightly contrived perhaps.

Didn't feel like there was anything new though an enjoyable book. Narrator perhaps a bit dry