On the Water

On the Water

3.82 (422 ratings by Goodreads)

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'I am holding on to that summer, not just in my thoughts but with my whole body, from my numb fingers down to my toes. The summer when the river was ours, and so was the boathouse, the city, the meadows and the reeds at the water's edge. Happiness only exists when you can touch it and I held it, I'm still holding it, that summer of 1939, now, here tonight.'

Two young oarsmen are trained as a coxless pair by a mysterious German coach in the golden summer of pre-war Amsterdam. Through the pressure and rapture of physical exertion, teamwork and victory, Anton the shy outsider and calmly self-confident David, forge an intense relationship while the grim developments on the world stage remain at a great distance. But on the wintry eve of Holland's liberation, Anton stands on the bank of his beloved river and mourns a lost world: David has disappeared and the boathouse is now derelict and deserted . . .
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Product details

  • Paperback | 144 pages
  • 125 x 196 x 8mm | 106g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Main
  • 0571209246
  • 9780571209248
  • 772,050

Review Text

An intensely told tale of adolescent passion, narrated by Anton, a shy, uncomfortable outsider who harbours a yearning for a different kind of life that becomes symbolized in the river and in rowing. He joins the club, crossing the metaphorical and actual line which divides the town he lives in and forms an unlikely partnership with the calm, ironical David. Together they become a successful coxless pair, coached by an enigmatic German, Schneiderhahn. The story revels in descriptions of the physical exertion and emotional connection as it recreates pre-war Amsterdam. Telling the story in flashbacks, Anton now stands alone on a wintry evening facing a derelict and abandoned boathouse, recalling the long, hot summer of 1939 and mourning a lost world. (Kirkus UK)
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Review quote

'Rarely have sport and literature combined so seamlessly to produce such a small miracle of a book'. Daniel Topolski, Guardian
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Rating details

422 ratings
3.82 out of 5 stars
5 25% (107)
4 42% (176)
3 24% (102)
2 7% (28)
1 2% (9)
Book ratings by Goodreads
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