Flat Water Tuesday: Book summary and reviews of Flat Water Tuesday by Ron Irwin

Flat Water Tuesday

by Ron Irwin

Flat Water Tuesday
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2013
    368 pages
    Genre: Novels

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About this book

Book Summary

A stunning novel of boarding school, family secrets, deep and passionate love, and the brutal pain of sports training.

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Irwin's story on love, loss, and tragedy marks his as a distinguished new voice." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. Irwin debuts with movingly rendered literary fiction about love and loss, youth and maturity, ambition and its cost...An elegy to love and loss and reconciliation." - Kirkus

The characters are well drawn and complex. Rob is a flawed but ultimately sympathetic man who habitually flees from situations that he can't handle emotionally. Rowing plays a critical element in the book, but even those who are uninterested in the sport will find themselves gripped by this compelling story of coming to terms with the past." - Booklist

"All you ever wanted to know about the world of competitive rowing is contained in the pages of Ron Irwin's new novel, whose hero is not only a prodigious oarsman but the lover of two memorably realized women." - J.M. Coetzee  

"Flat Water Tuesday is the best debut novel I've read this year, a compulsively readable dark drama that weaves multiple [stories] toward one marvelous denouement. Ron Irwin writes with confidence and skill and authenticity in this exploration of identity and the poisonous fuel of ambition. It will call other books - A Separate Peace, The Art of Fielding - to mind but stands alone as an original and powerful work. I'll read anything Irwin writes after this." - Michael Koryta, New York Times bestselling author of The Prophet  

"In Ron Irwin's capable hands, past and present fuse into a haunting meditation on class, guilt, and the perils of victory.  You don't need to have set foot in a scull to be swept along by this affecting book.  Flat Water Tuesday is the debut of a deft and talented new voice." - Eric Puchner, author of Pen/Faulkner Award-finalist, Model Home

"With echoes of A Separate Peace, Ron Irwin's wonderful Flat Water Tuesday is a masterful coming of age story about making one's place in the world, about the sacrifices love asks of us and of the rewards it may give us, about friendship and responsibility and so many other aspects of being human. It's compelling, moving and often heart-breaking - all of the things we want good novels to be." - Joe Schuster, author of The Might Have Been

"A gripping read.  If you've ever marveled at the fluidity of a quadruple scull cutting through water in first light, and wondered what makes its 4-man motor work, this book will provide the answers, and then some.  Irwin is adept at revealing the tricky bonds between rowers, and the way those bonds can shape - and misshape - a life." - Tom McNeal, author of To Be Sung Underwater, USA Today 2011 Best Book of the Year  

"The opening scene of Ron Irwin's lovely debut novel left me breathless.  Irwin writes astutely about finding one's place in the world, testing the limits of our endurance, and how we find the strength to carry on." - Amanda Eyre Ward, author of Close Your Eyes

"In taut, muscular prose Irwin details the punishing training regimen of The God Four, a crew of competitive oarsmen who commit themselves body and soul to the pain and glory of their sport. Flat Water Tuesday is a powerful consideration of the exhilarating love of competition and the high cost of victory. Ron Irwin has written a propulsive, heart-stopping story in the tradition of such sporting classics as Alan Sillitoe's The Loneliness of The Long Distance Runner, and Bernard Malamud's The Natural Flat Water Tuesday is a world-class champion of a novel." - Amber Dermont, NY Times bestselling author of The Starboard Sea

"Ron Irwin's rowing tale - Flat Water Tuesday – brings to life a rite of passage that is complex, insightful, and stirring.  Inside the gunnels of the rowing shell secrets are kept. Powerful fathers produce legendary sons, and legends arise that haunt some forever.  His artistry weaves heroism, rivalry, romance, tragedy, and raw life together inside the ethereal dynamics of a boarding school crew - not any crew, but "The God Four" - which, in the end, leaves all to wrestle with the reckoning that God was indeed watching.  Written in the tradition of Dead Poets Society, Ron Irwin's story is a must for anyone who loves rowing, sports, or just a darn good read." - Susan Saint Sing, member of the 1993 U.S. National Rowing Team and author of The Wonder Crew

"Flat Water Tuesday is more than just a wonderful coming-of-age novel, it's a gripping and beautifully drawn portrait of a man coming to grips with his demons. His unforgettable story will take you through heartbreak and back, where resilience can teach you not just about achievement, but also about love." - Elizabeth Percer, author of An Uncommon Education

"A biting, beautiful novel about the cost of winning and the lessons of loss. In Robert Carrey, Ron Irwin has created a character of precision and depth, a man who must learn that he cannot scull through life alone." - Jennifer Miller, author of The Year of the Gadfly

The information about Flat Water Tuesday shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Debra P. (Belmont, NC)

Flows like water
Love this book. the writing flows like the boats in a rowing contest!!! The style of going from past to present pretty much keeps me on the edge of my seat. I highly recommend for book group discussions.

Susan Randall

Loved it
I read this novel in one sitting and found myself weeping at the end of it. While it is a novel about rowing---a sport I knew nothing about when I started reading--- the love story at its center broke my heart. The story of Rob and Carolyn resonated with me. It felt incredibly real, raw, emotional and true and there were times I held my breath while I read about the two of them struggling to stay together. I enjoyed the rowing segments and felt they were woven beautifully into this romantic tale about two people finding each other despite it all. I think this is one of the best novels of the year.

Barbara O. (Maryland Heights, MO)

Wow!
Love this book. Beautiful language, beautiful scenery, beautiful story. Loved the way the author weaves the past and the future with layers of intriguing relationships. Not your typical coming of age story. Well done!

Steve B. (Spring, TX)

Flat Water Tuesday produces a storm surge of excitement.
I really enjoyed this book. I was skeptical before starting my read since I know very little about crew and I was wondering how the subject could be exciting or produce an interesting novel. Boy, was my skepticism ill placed. I credit the author for creating a story that is interesting, exciting, suspenseful and most of all, entertaining. The characters are diverse but each has their good and bad qualities revealed to us and I was able to identify with them. The three main characters (Rob, Ruth Anderson and Connor) interact in ways that produce a story worth telling and certainly worth reading. Thanks Ron Irwin for authoring a great debut novel. I will anxiously await your next book.

Daniel A. (Naugatuck, CT)

Flat Water Tuesday
This is a great story, I liked it a lot. It's so suspenseful, that I at times tried to squeeze key words on the page with my mind to find out what happens next, to no avail. I even called the phone number on page 271 hoping that would help; it didn't but I got a surprise at who was on the other end.
It wasn't until I turned the page, that I found what was happening next, and I couldn't stop turning pages quick enough. It almost drove me to drink, but I refrained. I enjoyed the book more because it has a Connecticut connection, my home state.
Overall, this is a page-turner that I will not soon forget. I recommend this book to fans of suspense/thrillers.

Annie P. (Murrells Inlet, SC)

Flat Water Tuesday - A Hit!
This is one good book! I know zilch about crew, and until now, could have cared less. The characters and the story have given me a new sport to cheer for. The protagonist, Rob Carrey, is a successful failure, a guy who tries and tries, and with every turn hits a roadblock, but keeps on going. Maybe he didn't follow the path laid out for him, but the path he blazes is interesting and littered with full characters and events. I hope to see a lot more from Mr. Irwin!

...18 more reader reviews

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More Information

More Information

Ron Irwin was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, and attended boarding school and college in New England, where he was a member of a number of winning rowing crews. He is currently the writer in residence for the University of Cape Town's MA in Creative Writing program, where he has taught since 1999. Irwin holds a Masters in Literary Studies and a Masters in Creative Writing, and has worked as a freelance documentary filmmaker and journalist. He is married and has three children. Follow Irwin and Flat Water Tuesday at facebook.com/FWTNovel, or visit him at flatwatertuesday.com

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