The Season of Open Water
The Season of Open Water is the intensely introspective character study of a family in a New England seaside town. It is October 1927. Bridge Weld is nineteen, headstrong and beautiful, working in her grandfather’s Noel’s boatbuilding shop. When Noel is approached by a local bootlegger to refit a boat for smuggling, he takes the job for the money it offers and for the promise of security for his beloved granddaughter and her brother, Luce. What Noel doesn’t count on is that Luce will be lured into the rum-work himself and will try to pull Bridge into it with him. But Bridge embarks on a different course when she falls in love with Henry, a WWI veteran. Caught up in a passion that propels her beyond the confines of her known world, ultimately Bridge must choose between the man who loves her and the brother to whom she has been loyal all her life. As Bridge strikes out on her own, Luce’s fierce attachment spirals out of control.
At one point, Tripp describes Bridge’s mother as “gorgeous, but in a distant sort of way.” So, too, is her prose style in this novel. Though the characters and setting breathe with life, I felt the languid pace and lack of clear character motivation seemed to hold me at arm’s length. Still the rich descriptive passages and deft characterization make The Season of Open Water shimmer like an ocean bay under a quarter-moon. Readers of literary historicals will find much to love in this book.