Thursday, April 18, 2024

The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris


Title:  The Sweetness of Water

Author:  Nathan Harris

Narrated by:  William DeMeritt

Publisher: Little, Brown & Company

Length: Approximately 12 hours and 10 minutes

Source: Purchased from with physical book checked out from the Kewaunee Public Library.

What flowers are blooming in your area?  I was happy to return home from Michigan last week and discover daffodils blooming in my yard.

At the end of the Civil War in Georgia, two brothers, Prentis and Landry have been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, but they don’t know where to go or how to support themselves.  George Walker finds them on his land and offers them a job with a decent wage to help him clear land and to plant a peanut field.  This act sets the town against George and his family.  George and his wife Isabelle are mourning the loss of their son Caleb in the Civil War.  When Caleb returns home and is labeled a coward, the Walkers must make a stand and find a way forward.  Caleb has a forbidden love with a childhood friend and fellow soldier, August.  Will the Walker family and Prentis and Landy be able to navigate reconstruction to live in a better world?

My thoughts on this novel:

·       This was the April pick for the Page-turner’s Book Club at the Kewaunee Public Library.  It provided a great discussion for book club.  I enjoyed the discussion, and it furthered my enjoyment of the book.

·       This novel was also an Oprah Book Club pick in 2021.

·       The novel was slow moving for the first half, but the action really picked up in the second half.

·       It made me really ponder what happened after the Civil War.  Society had gone through a giant upheaval.  How do you go back to “normal?”  What is the new “normal?”

·       This novel was character driven rather than plot driven.  The characters were all very interesting.  How far will you go to do what is right?

·       I felt like this was a coming-of-age story for Caleb, Landry, and George.

·       The novel had beautiful writing with rich language.

·       The Sweetness of Water was author Nathan Harris’s debut novel.  It was an excellent book and so well written, it was hard to believe it was a first novel.

·       I loved how all the main characters had to find courage to move forward.

·       I liked the ending.  It was positive, but realist.

·       Trigger warning:  The climax had brutal violence that was heartbreaking. 

·       This was an excellent audiobook.

Overall, The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris was a beautifully written, deeply moving character study set during reconstruction. 


  1. This new-to-me book sounds like wonderful historical fiction, Laura. Your review is excellent, as usual.

  2. Thanks for sharing this review with the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.