Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz

Christina Schwarz
Drowning Ruth

This is a fascinating and mysterious story all about a very strong and quite dominating character, Mandy Starkey.  She is a woman with dark secrets that she is determined to ensure stay concealed; and as the full nature of her secrets aren’t revealed until the end of the novel the reader is unsure of her involvement in several suspicious occurrences.

Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz available on Amazon
 Kindle  Hardback
 Paperback  Audiobook

This is a fascinating and mysterious story all about a very strong and quite dominating character, Mandy Starkey.  She is a woman with dark secrets that she is determined to ensure stay concealed; and as the full nature of her secrets aren’t revealed until the end of the novel the reader is unsure of her involvement in several suspicious occurrences.  

The story is set on a farm beside a lake in Wisconsin at the end of World War 1, and this lake also seems to be a strong character in its own right and have an influence over events, in its ability to provide freedom yet also hide secrets, and to be a leisure facility yet also a menacing danger.  Mandy is a nurse in the war but comes home to the farm when she is unwell to stay with her sister, Mattie, and niece, Ruth.  The story is mostly about Mandy, but is also told from other people’s perspectives such as Ruth’s or Mattie’s husband Carl, and also goes back in time to Mandy’s memories of the past.  The major event of the story is the death of Mattie by drowning in the lake, at which only Mandy and Ruth were present, with Ruth being only a few years old and unable to understand the odd things she saw and heard, and with all the explanations (and therefore the readers’ suspicions) left to Mandy.

I found Mandy one of the most complex and interesting and fascinating and memorable characters I think I’ve ever read about!  She can be incredibly selfless and loyal, taking over the care of Ruth and looking after Mattie during their childhood, however her love seems an obsessive and controlling and almost unhealthy kind of love and she often refers to those she loves as though they are a possession of hers, and in her determination to keep them safe she will do anything and sacrifice anyone.  She is also very single-minded and believes she knows best, so even if those she loves want something different than her plans for them she will still drive through her inclinations.

Mandy and Mattie’s mother is also an influential character, I feel, even though the reader only meets her in Mandy’s reminisces as both parents have died at the time of the story.  She seemed unwell fairly often and the nature of her illness isn’t specified, but I wondered if it was something like bipolar with her changes of mood.  I also wondered if Mattie also suffered from this to a degree, as Carl describes how she could be wildly giddy and enthusiastic one minute and then very low and tearful the next, and Mandy too has her own mental difficulties resulting in her having to be placed in a mental institution.  I also wondered if it was mum’s difficulties and changeable moods that made Mandy feel the need to control everyone and everything, so she could perhaps depend on things as she wasn’t able to depend on her mother.  I also felt sorry for Mandy that she didn’t appear to have been a care-free child herself as she took on a lot of responsibility for caring for her younger sister.

This is part mystery and suspense story with the puzzle of how exactly Mattie died and with Mandy’s secrets being gradually revealed, and part psychological thriller with the main character being secretive and controlling and with a question mark over her mental health and just how far she will go to achieve her aims.  It’s extremely well written and is an unusual and memorable book.  I will have to see if the author has written any other books, as I’d be interested to try them as well.

Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz available on Amazon
 Kindle  Hardback
 Paperback  Audiobook

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