This is a quiet and lovely new book by Annamarie Beckel, whose writing I greatly admire. She was the editor who guided my novel By the Rivers of Brooklyn through its journey from an unwieldy 180,000 word manuscript to the published book it eventually became, but she’s far more than a midwife to other writers’ work — she is a talented author in her own right. Weaving Water is a story about midlife, despair, hope, and also otters.
The novel is told from the point of view of Beth, a middle-aged biologist spending some time alone in a lake cabin in central Newfoundland, studying the otters who live there. While there she meets a mysterious old … woman? Or is it an old man? she’s not quite sure at first, but the elderly neighbour, Mattie, becomes and important part of Beth’s world, as does Mattie’s dog Muin and nephew Dan. Beth’s own family includes a husband back in St. John’s and a grown daughter who lives farther away in Canada, and she’s feeling the pull of distance on those relationships. Mostly, though, she feels discouragement and futility — both about her own career and research, and about the larger project of saving the planet. How do we find hope when we question the value of our own efforts? And can we learn any life lessons from otters? These are just two questions that this gentle and thoughtful novel addresses.