Cynthia Ruchti's Christian novel, As Waters Gone By is the story of a broken marriage, a tiny house . . . and hope. Max and Emmalyn were married for five years. She was at the height of her culinary career, when Max made a mistake. Instead of trying to fix her marriage or get a prison divorce, Emmalyn, the main character, sets out for one of the Apostle Islands located on Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes. A tiny cottage purchased when Emmalyn and Max were first married, sits abandoned along the shoreline. Max sits in a prison cell nearing the end of his five year sentence, broken.
Emmalyn plans to restore the cottage and live in it, unsure what will become of the marriage after Max is released. She finds it easier to whitewash the walls of the damaged cottage and replace the flooring than to patch up her relationship with Max.
Imagery and symbolism abound. Here’s an example from the book:
"Dreaming. Anticipating. Planning.
As quickly as that wave hit the shoreline of her heart, it receded, carrying little bits of hope out to sea."
The author visited Bayfield, Wisconsin and nearby Madeline Island, the largest of the Apostle Islands and fell in love with the area. She incorporates real life localities such as Tom’s Burned Down Bar, the Old Rittenhouse Inn and the islands’ sea caves within the story's setting. Weaving faith into a hopeless situation, Ruchti creates a transformation in both the 800 square foot cottage and in the hearts of her characters. This is an important book which gives insight into the challenges of the incarcerated and their families.
If you like As Waters Gone By, you might like Paper Hearts by Courtney Walsh. Also set in a small town (at the base of the Rockies in Colorado), its rich in metaphors for life’s unexpected twists and turns. Both have quirky, artsy supporting characters. Check the VBPL catalog for these titles and more. Review by Sandi H.