This time around, my friend, fellow writer, and surrogate brother Joaquin dropped Carol Anshaw’s Aquamarine into my life, and everything. For those with a yen for a choose-your-own-adventure novel, Village Voice Literary Supplement contributor Anshaw (author, as Carol White. In Carol Anshaw’s first novel, Jesse Austin swims 10, miles over three years of training, races for America in the Olympics and comes.

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The writing just flowed seamlessly between dialogue and narrative. Carol Anshaw then gives us three possible futures for Jesse, depending on choices she made directly following her swimming triumph. From there, Anshaw intricately traces three possible paths for Jesse, spinning exhilarating variations on the themes of lost love and parallel lives unlived.

She has a whole sentence worth of dialogue. Es regt zum nachdenken an und caroo einen aquamarjne. What would my life life be like if I had This book tells a good story or, rather, three good stories but it suffers for its apparent attempts to play at anthropology. A vividly rendered American story wquamarine do quite well at demonstrating the complexities of American experience, without the author constantly tapping readers on their shoulders to remind them how strange and fascinating American culture and people are.

Jan 20, Pamela rated it liked it Shelves: I loved many things about this book. I looked up this book, figuring I might read it some day. I initially gave this book three stars, but upon further reflection I’m bumping it up aquamaarine four.

AQUAMARINE by Carol Anshaw | Kirkus Reviews

The next time we It was a mistake to read Anshaw novels back-to-back, because her tricks show too clearly and leave me oddly depressed; and it is a pity that Aquamarine was the second book I read, because I think it delivers better on the promise of its premise than Carry the Onewhich I read first. Well, the plus side of clearing out the basement is that I found a box full of lesfic I thought I’d given away, including this!

Instead she sits here on the hood of her car, or lies on the sofa late at night, watching tv for clues. In fact, looking back the reading of this novel may have been a watershed moment. Tamale pie sounds good — I might give it a try! Although each of the three stories is very different, they are all heavily influenced by Marty, her seduction and her snatching the gold medal. I suppose it’s up to the reader to decide which is the TRUE story if one wants to go that route.


After leaving the pool deck at the Mexico City Olympics, Anshaw fast-forwards twenty-odd years to three alternative lives for Jesse. In the first iteration of possible lives, Jesse has returned to her hometown, New Jerusalem, Missouri, and settled into seemingly domestic bliss with a husband who loves her and a baby on the way. Because she has unresolved feelings for the gold medallist? Carol Anshaw does it beautifully in Aquamarinea story that begins with Olympic swimmer Jesse Austin, seduced and consequently edged out for a gold medal by her Australian rival, Marty.

Although Aquamarine is a vivid triptych of possibility, I was unable to suspend my constant awareness of the experimental form, and the unarticulated presence of internalized homophobia that permeates each story.

Cool exercise in exploring three possible lives in the aftermath of one person’s shot at glory. I’m just looking for a way in. Anshaw delights in showing progressive-minded people surrounded by kitsch-loving rednecks.

Writing is fairly plain. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Each one is a snapshot of Jesse’s life as a 39 year old and each is an equally feasible, completely different way her life could have turned out lesbian living in New York, adulterous mother to be in the same small town she grew up in, single mom with two grown up kids living in Florida.

I was hoping for more introspection, I suppose, instead of a just straight-forward “this is what happened without much reflection. This bliss as is often the case is partially surface-level as she entangles herself in an affair with a younger man who wants her to run away with him. The novel follows one woman, Jesse Austin, through three possible lives. There, she has an encounter with a gorgeous swimmer from Australia.

In the first, she’s married to a man; in the second, she’s with a woman the best, naturally ; and in the third, she’s basically a single mom, though the father has a role. I wouldn’t strongly recommend this as it’s easy to put down and NOT pick up again. She is vaguely dissatisfied with life. What, and who, matters to us most? In each life she makes very different choices, but all are driven by the impact of unresolved emotional trauma.


Apr 04, Alisa rated it really liked it. By clicking on “Submit” you agree that you have read and agree to the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Carol Anshaw – Wikipedia

What is most interesting is Jessie’s emotions. Whichever life I wind up with, I want to make sure happiness is woven into it. The tales — as a small-town wife, a cosmopolitan lesbian returning home, and a single parent of troubled teenagers — are wonderfully consistent and richly original on their own. This book was a special experience for me because the multiple reality premise was similar to a book I wrote a few years ago, only this was much more concise.

Oct 02, Jess rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: In each of the next three chapters we meet Jessie again now 39, in parallel lives.

Book Report: Aquamarine by Carol Anshaw

Second, why was Aquuamarine hand bandaged when Jesse watches the hospital soap in the Missouri installment of her life? We’ve seen this idea in other books and movies, but this book, published inmay have actually been first. Carop all posts by Kait. Anshaw is master at delicious ambiguity. To ask other readers questions about Aquamarineplease sign up.

Very sensitively written novel centered around Jesse Austin, whose second place finish in Olympic swimming decades ago lost against a friend manages to haunt her very existence to current day.

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