Sunday, March 14, 2010

Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger

Eternal on the Water is about love at first sight, living with a devastating illness, fulfilling promises and enjoying the time we have. For Mary, an expert on crows, and Cobb, a professor, it was love at first sight when they met along the Allagash river in Maine. Cobb soon learns that Mary might have a devastating illness, but he isn't deterred. Together they travel the globe; the waters of the Allagash, to kayak, camp and talk to the Chungamunga girls; Indonesia, to visit Mary's brother; Yellowstone National Park, to study crows; and finally back to where it all began. To fulfill a promise. To say goodbye.

I adored this book. It's beautifully written, expressive and lyrical without being wordy. Monninger is a wonderful story teller. He takes his time with the story and focuses on the joys in Mary's life. His descriptions of wildlife and nature are outstanding and gives the reader a real sense of being there. He doesn't spend a great deal of time describing the illness (Huntington's disease) or it's symptoms. However, he does give the reader a sense of what Mary and her loved ones are experiencing. In that way, the book is incredibly sad.

The story possessed a dream-like quality. There was a little tension and conflict here and there, but for the most part it was even keeled and felt otherworldly.

Mary's study of crows was fascinating. The book is filled with stories and interesting facts about them. I learned something new and gained a new appreciation for them.

I loved both the main characters, Mary and Cobb. Even though I'm not sure I believe in love at first sight, I knew they did and I felt their passion for each other. I deeply respected Cobb's choices and wished many times that I could be as brave as he was.

The ending was incredibly sad and because of that, I had a hard time finishing it. Even with just 4 pages to go, I had to put the book down twice because I couldn't bear to go on. I knew what was going to happen, but I didn't know the specifics and was not prepared for it. Despite that, I loved every minute.

Favourite quote:
Mary to Cobb after she present him with an everything-knife. In a way, Mary was describing their relationship:
Remember, it may decide to leave you. Don't fight against it and don't blame yourself if it happens. The knife may be on a journey of its own(page 298).

Highly recommended. This is not a book I'll forget anytime soon. I look forward to more works by Joseph Monninger.

For information on Huntington's in this country (Canada) and how you can help, please the Huntington Society of Canada.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit the Simon and Schuster website.

For more information about the author, please visit Joseph Monninger's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at Simon and Schuster for this review copy. Thanks Anneliese.

Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger, Gallery Books (Simon and Schuster), ©2010. ISBN 9781439168332(Trade Paperback), 344p.


  1. My 19-y.o. daughter has a fascination with crows and the story sounds like one I would enjoy reading. Think I'll put this one on my must read list. Thanks for the great review, hadn't heard of this one ...

  2. This books sounds wonderful. Great review.

  3. Thanks Wanda and Bermudaonion. The book really is wonderful. I hope you'll both give it a shot.

    Thanks for stopping by.


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