This brilliant and compelling novel is at once a lyrical description of the Fens, a fictional autobiography, and an impassioned defence of history. The narrator, an English schoolteacher, and his interior world of memories combine with the exterior world of the bleak Fenland landscape to produce a multiplicity of stories. Swift weaves together tales of empire building, land reclamation, brewers and lock-keepers to construct a chronicle that spans three centuries.
Waterland is simultaneously a family saga, a novel of provincial life, a social history and a story of adolescent love.
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It takes 2 reads, but the layers seem endless
layered, symbolic, internalized
The narrator. He tells the story as a memory and part internal conversation. He contradicts himself, because he is working through trauma. How the novel's structure mimics trauma is impressive and interesting to work through. The way he works through his trauma, the reader goes through it with him.
No standouts. He does a good job making different voices for different characters.
It is best to, in order to pick up on the repetitions and parallels, which made the novel impressive.
The main plot is set during the narrators childhood, this memory is triggered by his current experiences. He frames the story with paralleled stories of the history of the Fens. At first, these historical stories are tough to attach to the main story--especially because of their lengths, but on the second read everything fits. It simply takes 2 reads.
The book questions reality and history--whether they are truly created and organized to distract us from the world's emptiness.
Brilliant author, provocative style, great performance
- M. Henderson