Monday, February 22, 2010

Book Review: Eternal on the Water

Title: Eternal on the Water
Author: Joseph Monninger
ISBN: 978-1-4391-6833-2
Pages: 368
Release Date: February 16, 2010
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.0 out of 5
Beautifully written, emotionally-charged, character driven story about love and life and the power of the human spirit to accept what will be and joyfully celebrate what you have. You won't want to put it down.

Publisher: From the day Jonathan Cobb and Mary Fury meet on the banks of Maine’s Allagash River, they approach life with the same adventurous spirit with which they conquer the river’s treacherous rapids. But rivers do not let go so easily. And so for them, the life they love demands equally that they confront the most difficult of choices, and they vow, when time and illness necessitate, to return to the river together so that Mary can make one final journey. Set against the rugged wilderness of Maine, the exotic islands of Indonesia, the sweeping panoramas of Yellowstone National Park, and the tranquil villages of rural New England, Eternal on The Water is at once heartbreaking and uplifting—a timeless, beautifully rendered story of true love’s power.

My Thoughts: Eternal on the Water is the story of two people falling in love after meeting unexpectedly on the bank of the Allagash River the evening before they planned to kayak down the river. There is a connection, a bond between Jonathan Cobb and Mary Fury the moment they meet which they cannot ignore. So strong is their connection that a couple they have dinner with a day later thinks they have been together for years. But this is more than a love story. It is a story about truth and consequences, about freedom and beliefs, about commitment, loyalty and beauty.

A short time after they meet, Mary tells Cobb (she calls Jonathan Cobb by his last name) a startling secret and one that would make some men run as fast as their legs can carry them. Cobb asks some questions for clarification and to settle his thoughts and emotions. He also agrees to some of Mary's long-term difficult and painful but necessary (for her), plans. But he stays right by her side. He couldn't walk away from Mary even if he wanted to because now that he's met her he cannot imagine his life without her. Mary's secret troubles Cobb because of it's possible impact on their future. Cobb, like Mary, decides to make the best of everyday they have together.

The characters make this story. Cobb serves as the narrator. We learn quite a bit about Mary and Cobb's life with Mary but as much about Cobb. Mary and Cobb are kind, loving, like-able people. Mary has always loved the outdoors and nature. She grew up to become a scientist and a teacher with nature as her laboratory and corvids her life blood. She's been fascinated by them, and crows in particular, since she was young. She studies corvids and researches their life and world. Mary is honest and charming with a quirky sense of humor. Her enthusiasm for life and her active imagination make every day a new adventure with her. Her love for Cobb is clear as is his love for her. It's as if their life started anew the day they met.

Cobb, a teacher at a prep school is more reserved than Mary with a tendency to sit-back, watch and observe. When they first meet, Cobb is on sabbatical from school and is researching and following Thoreau's trip down the Allagash and his travels in Maine.
Cobb shares Mary's love of the outdoors and the simple life beckons both. Over the course of the novel, they teach each other life-long lessons as well as little things about each other, other people and the world.

Nature is more than a backdrop in this story, it serves as a major character. Mary and Cobb spend more time outdoors than in enjoying it's bounty. The great outdoors is beautiful, honest and open, without pretension or airs. It teaches Cobb and Mary about life and shows them how to cope during the difficult times, how to ride out the pain and how to celebrate the joy and beauty of their life. The Allagash River, where Mary and Cobb meet, is their favorite body of water. It exemplifies the ups and downs of their life together, the joys and sorrows, the struggles they encounter as well as the many happy days they have together. Mary and Cobb set up their home in the heart of quaint New England and marvel at the passing of the seasons. They travel to the beaches of Indonesia and strengthen their bond in the warmth of the sun's rays and the calm, sparkling, blue water. They spend many days enjoying the rugged beauty of Yellowstone National Park while Mary studies the crows and they learn about wolves. And the rugged beauty of Maine, their second home, is part of them. It was there in the beginning and will be their in the end.

Joseph Monninger has written a beautiful story that still swirls in and out of my thoughts more than 10 days after I finished reading it. This book begins with the ending to the story which I found a little disconcerting, at first, but the positive, jubilant bend of the tale draws you in, only occasionally reminding you of the coming ending. Eternal on the Water is filled with symbolism that enhances Mary and Cobb's story. There are several mythological tales and folklore which underscores the lessons this story offers the readers. I think for those of us interested in hearing it, this story teaches us about life and love and how to live joyfully. I expect parts of this story will be with me forever. Eternal on the Water is a touching, compassionate love story and a captivating story about living and enjoying a life of simplicity and beauty.

I received this book as part of Barnes & Nobles First Look Program and found it a fantastic experience.


  1. You are really, really good at writing these reviews!!! You could do it for a living!!

  2. That sounds like a wonderful book. I will have to add it to my must read list.

  3. Sounds like a wonderful, uplifting book. Knowing how the story ends could be disconcerting, but also could take the pressure off. At least you wouldn't worry about what could be coming!

  4. Sounds like a good book. I do like it sometimes when the ending is told first and then you discover how they got there.

  5. Well you got me interested. Great review!

  6. Amazing review Amy. I can't wait to start my copy now.

  7. The setting makes this even more appealing to me. Great review!

  8. You always make me want to read the books you review! This sounds like a great one.

  9. A book that stays with you that closely for 10 days is quite a book!

  10. I've been seeing good things about this one. Great review!

  11. I've been seeing good things about this one. Great review!

  12. I've been seeing good things about this one. Great review!