Favorite Quotes on Books and Reading

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." Garrison Keillor

Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” Jane Yolen

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." Oscar Wilde

"Books have furnished, burnished, and enabled my life." Julia Keller

Friday, June 7, 2013

Book 125: FLAT WATER TUESDAY Review

Flat Water Tuesday by Ron Irwin
ISBN:  9781250030030 (hardcover)
ISBN:  9781250030023 (ebook)
ASIN:  B009LRWH7W (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 4, 2013 
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books


Rob Carrey, the son of a working-class cabinet maker, arrives at the Fenton School with a scholarship to row and a chip on his shoulder. Generations of austere Fenton men have led the rowing team, known as the God Four, to countless victories—but none are as important or renowned as the annual Tuesday-afternoon race against their rival, Warwick.
But first Rob must complete months of preparation driven by their captain, Connor Payne’s vicious competitive nature. As the race nears, the stakes rise, tempers and lusts are fueled, and no one can prevent the horrible tragedy that befalls one of them.
Fifteen years later, Rob returns home from a film shoot in Africa to end a heartbreaking relationship with his girlfriend, Carolyn. But when a phone call from one of the God Four compels him to attend the reunion at Fenton, no part of Rob’s past remains sequestered for long and nothing about his future is certain.
As much about the sport of rowing as it is a novel of finding oneself, not once, but again in mid-life; Ron Irwin's Flat Water Tuesday is a testament to the pride and passion of youth, and an ode to the journey of forgiveness.
A stunning novel of boarding school, family secrets, deep and passionate love, and the brutal pain of sports training.


The reader is introduced to Rob Carrey as an adult, living in Africa, and working as a documentary filmmaker. It's been fifteen years since he attended the Fenton School in Connecticut and his time spent there is best forgotten. Rob has buried his memories of the Fenton School until he receives a letter from a former schoolmate and crew teammate. The story then jumps to the teenage Rob and his introduction to the Fenton School.

Rob had received a scholarship to row at the prestigious Fenton School. If he does well on the crew team referred to as the God Four, then he'll be able to write his ticket to any of the Ivy League schools with crew teams, especially Harvard. Regrettably, Rob is very quick-tempered and has only one thought . . . to row in a one-man scull not with a four-man team. If that isn't bad enough, he begins his career at Fenton by getting into a physical fight with the crew captain, Conner Payne. That fight begins a yearlong intensive competition that may well be the destruction of Rob.

Mr. Irwin slowly reveals the intricacies of training and working as a crew team member. Many of the details I didn't quite understand because of the terminology, but I was able to grasp the basics. If training to be an elite athlete isn't enough pressure for the teenagers on the "God Four" crew, they also have the pressure of having to win one race above any other against Warwick, Fenton's bitter rivals. That one race will set the rest of their lives with regards to college acceptances, school pride and family honor.

The story of Rob's career as a student at Fenton provides a lot of background to help us understand his current career path and relationship failure. Rob returns to the US to bring new film footage for editing, but also to end his five year, long-distance relationship with Carolyn. 

The back and forth between past and present was a little startling at first, but I then realized the gradual revelation of Rob's past helped to understand the revelations of Rob's present. That one pivotal year at Fenton had an amazingly long-term impact on not only Rob but his fellow crew mates. Rob's interaction with others at Fenton is either a bit brash or standoffish and that continued through to the present. It was interesting to watch Rob's gradual self-discovery as a thirty-something year old and realization that he's been running away since he left Fenton. I enjoyed reading about the teenage Rob and his friends as much as I did about the adult Rob. There's a lot going on in Flat Water Tuesday, but it ultimately comes down to forgiveness of others and ourselves and acceptance of things past. If you enjoy reading contemporary fiction with a lot of sports talk and a hint of romance, then you'll definitely want to read Flat Water Tuesday.

Listen to Chapter One of Flat Water Tuesday

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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