Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Flat Water Tuesday: A Novel by Ron Irwin

Flat Water Tuesday: A Novel
When documentary filmmaker Rob Carrey flies back to New York from a shoot in South Africa to salvage his relationship with his lover Caroline Smythe, he unexpectedly finds himself called back to his former boarding school following a heartbreaking tragedy. Despite having long ago buried the memories of the brutal year he spent at the elite Fenton School in Connecticut as a postgraduate rower, Carrey finds that those days now return to haunt him.The Fenton School Boat Club’s top rowing team, called the God Four, is legendary. But the price that they pay for a shot at glory will scar each member of Carrey’s team far into adulthood.

Colin Payne, the Massachusetts blue-blood; Jumbo, the good natured giant; John Wadsworth the preppy lawyer-to-be; Ruth Anderson, the Yale-bound coxswain; and Rob Carrey, the scholarship athlete from Niccalsetti, New York — all of them are forever bound to one another by the terrible cost of victory. Over one tumultuous week, Rob Carrey will learn that he cannot leave the past in his wake.

This was a lovely literary novel about a boarding school rowing team who are struck by a tragedy just as they are turning into adults.

The story jumps back and forth from the present to the past as we follow Rob through his life as a documentary film maker. Slowly, we get flashes of the year he spent at boarding school, the author allowing tension to build at a nice pace as we get more and more clues about the impending tragedy. As with any literary novel, character development is the most important thing. Rob is a carefully written narrator, with enough flaws to keep his internal monologue interesting. The other characters, especially Ruth and Connor are also well done. I do wish we’d learned a bit more about the other two, Perry and Wads.

Something that really made this book stand apart from others was the rowing. The author gives such a detailed look at this particular sport, that those sections are some of the more interesting ones. Although it can get a little technical, he makes the rowing experience come alive for the reader, even for someone who knows nothing about the sport.

This is a good choice if you want to read something a bit different.

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