At the age of eighty, Brendan Auberon—formerly of the Order of Our Lady of the Valley, now confined to a nursing home—has one last wish: to see his 200 acres overlooking what used to be Paradise Valley, before the villages were drowned to provide water for the city of Boston. Now, Brendan’s memories drift beneath the surface of the Stillwater Reservoir. When Brendan dupes his nephew, Henry, into hijacking the nursing home van for the journey, what begins as a lark becomes an adventure infinitely more complex.
Andrea Barrett is the author of Archangel, The Air We Breathe, Servants of the Map (finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), The Voyage of the Narwhal, Ship Fever (winner of the National Book Award), and other books. She teaches at Williams College and lives in northwestern Massachusetts.
Publisher: Washington Square Press (August 1, 1994)
“Barrett returns with her specialty—a story about the tangled web of a family told in prose that's spun smooth as silk.... The strength this time around lies in Barrett's fine writing and the haunting power of the water, rising to fill that reservoir. It was a real event, but like the best of fiction writers, Barrett makes it more than real.”
– Kirkus Reviews
“Barrett combines family dissension and adventure with healthy doses of faith and optimism. The result is a satisfying analysis of family dysfunction in the spirit of Sue Miller.”
– Library Journal
“The writing is careful and coherent, and the characters are wonderful.”
– San Jose Mercury News
“Of all the writers in the present generation, I can think of no one who's better at exploring the crystalline structures of human relations than Andrea Barrett. The lady has a very powerful miscroscope. The Forms of Water is just lovely—deeply funny, deeply serious, wise.”
– Mark Childress, author of Georgia Bottoms
“Moving.... Barrett's imagery is oddly memorable.... The Forms of Water is crafted with care.”
– Belles Lettres
“Subtle and strong.... Barrett's talents shine.... Barrett not only gets the geographic terrain right, she has the emotional terrain down as well. Her writing... is insidious and fluid and as clean as a Berkshire stream. Long after the book has been shelved... you'll find yourself thinking of Brendan, a crowning achievement for any writer.”
– Detroit News
“If any group of mortals knows how it feels to be expelled from paradise, it's the Auberon clan, the appealingly wretched family in Andrea Barrett's fourth novel.... Ms. Barrett nicely details the quiet agonies of people who have fallen from grace through bad luck and worse judgment, and suggests that if you can't regain paradise, you can at least make peace with its loss.”