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November 15, 2023

The Ways of Water by Teresa H. Janssen ~ A Review

by Susan Roberts

"My story is twined, like rope, with that of my kin.  The first strand began to fray when Mama, a city girl from Austin, fell in love with a Louisiana railroad man.  As Papa ran the steam locomotives across the great deserts of the West, Mama followed him.  Steam engines always follow water, and we did too."
(p 3)

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of women's fiction novel The Ways of Water by Teresa H. Janssen
November 2023; She Writes Press; 978-1647425838
ebook, print (440 pages); women's fiction

Josie Belle Gore is the middle child of an itinerant family moving around in the West in the early 1900s when trains were still very important.  Her mother came from a well-to-do family in Austin but when she fell in love with Harry, a train engineer, she left her life and followed him throughout the West as he engineered steam engines on the major tracks.  Whenever he was put on a new route, the family moved.   They lived in New Mexico from 1907-09, Chihuahua from 1910-11, Engle and Cuter from 1911-16, Bisbee from 1916-17, Cuter in 1917, and Tucson in 1917-18.  As the family moved, Josie took on the personal role of keeping all of the children together and helping to raise the younger children.  Her mother was a seamstress and it seems like every time she built up a clientele, the family moved and she had to start all over again.  When Mama died in childbirth, Josie made it her job to take care of the family even though she had to quit school to do it. Nothing was more important to her than keeping her family together and she promised her mother that she would take care of the family.  But life has a way of making people break their promises and after her mother died, the family got split up between relatives but they never lost touch with Josie.  Will she be able to forgive herself for breaking her promise to her mother?  Is there any chance of bringing her family back together??  

"Untimely, like a river meeting the sea, with nowhere else to run, she must make peace with the past and good on her promise to those she loves."

The Ways of Water is a beautifully written novel.  The locations in the West are so well described that you can almost hear the train whistle blowing across the desert.  Josie is a fantastic character.  We first meet her at 6 years of age and follow her until she is 21.  Even from the beginning, she is a caring and compassionate sister who works to make her family happy and her mother proud.  The mistakes that she makes during her life all make sense based on the person that she tried to be.  She was brave and compassionate and even when she was living a life in the big city that was totally alien to her growing up years, her family remained the most important people in her life.  She is not a character that I'll soon forget.

It's amazing that this beautifully written novel is a debut for this author.  After reading this book, I expect that we'll see some great books from this author in the future. 

"Life like a river, can take some sharp twists and turns.  People can shift, as much as a water's course." (p 5)

Buy The Ways of Water at Amazon

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.   

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