Moving Water

by Joan Skogan,
200 pages,
ISBN: 0888783868

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First Novels - Slippery Moves
by Eva Tihanyi

Joan Skogan's narrator in Moving Water (Beach Holme Publishing, 211 pages, $16.95 paper), also named Rose, is an artist, a woman of "restlessness and vagrancy" lured all her life by moving water: "[M]oving water meant that there might be more than the present rigid moment. Land stayed steadily the same in one place, and you had to fit into it. But water moved and changed, formed around you, took you into itself and away".

When the novel opens, she has recently returned from a lengthy absence from her beloved north coast. Rose, who grew up in Vancouver in a home where "[c]hange was not encouraged" and arrangements were "intended to be permanent", married a fisherman and tried to settle down. She refers to this period as "the up-the-coast years when she and Richard and everyone else still thought she would never be wild and dark or deliberately hidden". But that's exactly what Rose is, and eventually she leaves Richard to travel the Black and Baltic seas on a cargo ship.

Now that she is back, she "wants to be a changed woman". She wants fourteen years to have been long enough to learn more than just "how to escape and keep moving, slipping through the hands of strangers. Or how to stay and be cast into stone. Long enough to choose". The novel is in a sense about finding home-in Rose's case, "the hard coast that knows me and still offers me consolation", a place where "I can imagine art and other ways of moving and changing course and overflowing the banks, even if I stay in one place".

Moving Water brims with fine writing as evocative as the nature of water itself.


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