“It is the fog that warps time. It is the fog that allows his life to extend behind him, ahead of him, the narrow of the road pulled under the wagon, with the known steady rhythm of Magdalyn’s hooves as they beat against the oiled dirt. In the fog, the world loses its borders, its abrasiveness, its contour.”
Dawn Tripp, Season of Open Water
Dawn Tripp’s Season of Open Water was first published in 2005, and was just chosen as a “Dedham Reads Together 2012” pick. I read and loved Tripp’s recent novel, Game of Secrets, so I bought this book. I am pleased to say that it was every bit as powerful and beautifully crafted as Game of Secrets.
Set in 1927 on the New England coast, Season of Open Water is the story of one family’s involvement in rum-running during Prohibition. It begins at the funeral of a local boy who got in over his head with the wrong sort. All too soon, however, the lure of money blows the impact of his death away on the ocean winds, and the decision of a grandfather to outfit a boat for smuggling alcohol opens a path into crime for his grandchildren, Luce and Bridge Weld.
Teenagers Luce and Bridge are inseparably close. Raised by a single mother and a fisherman grandfather, they are allowed freedom for hunting, fishing, and adventures. Luce’s hot head and recklessness lead him into dealings with rum-runners. He is soon in over his head, and his only hope is that his cool, capable, fearless sister, Bridge, can help him stay afloat.
Bridge’s loyalty to Luce is tested when she begins to fall in love with a local doctor and WWI veteran, whose past prevents him from embracing the present. As they find each other, danger, violence, and jealousy are a constant threat.
Season of Open Water is an outstanding novel, and Tripp is a gifted writer. Her words rise off the page and allow the reader to get lost in the past. Her knack for historical detail and for revealing the psychology of her characters makes for rich, layered reading. Her novel is unique and timeless, and would make a perfect book club selection.
Heartbreaking, compelling, and fascinating, Season of Open Water stands out as prize-worthy historical fiction. If you enjoy intense novels of desire and betrayal, you will love Season of Open Water.