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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

Guilt And Tragedy Between The Wars

Drowning Ruth - Christina Schwarz

Set in rural Wisconsin between the First and Second World Wars, this story of two sisters and their children growing up on the shores of a lake is full of secrets, guilt, misunderstandings and tragedy. There's an intensity about the plot that makes it quite difficult to bear at times - especially the ending when so much is at stake.

As a debut novel, it's quite remarkable and I wasn't surprised to hear that it was an Oprah's Book Club choice; but I think it has its weaknesses. In particular, the male characters are pretty shadowy and, despite its undoubted emotional power, I didn't really enjoy it. There wasn't enough light in the story for me. It felt claustrophopbic and I could only read it in little bits. She's undoubtedly a promising writer, but I felt relieved to have reached the end.