Customer Reviews for

Eternal on the Water

Average Rating 4
( 179 )
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(73)

4 Star

(67)

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(25)

2 Star

(11)

1 Star

(3)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

A Glimpse of the Eternal

This is an excellent book. The characters are interesting, the plot a real tear jerker, but what is most important for me is the beautiful writing. Monninger brings his natural settings to life. The emotion evoked by the power of his writing about nature is what drives ...
This is an excellent book. The characters are interesting, the plot a real tear jerker, but what is most important for me is the beautiful writing. Monninger brings his natural settings to life. The emotion evoked by the power of his writing about nature is what drives the story for me.

Deciding to set this tragic love story in such beautiful, yet harsh places make the theme obvious. The world is beautiful and terrible at the same time. We have to appreciate the beauty and live to the fullest with the tragedy and cruelty.

I highly recommend this book. It's not an escapist fantasy. It says something about honor and living a productive life.

posted by nfam on January 25, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

Not so eternal per this reader

Although I really wanted to love this book, I am sad to say that it just didn't happen for me. Love at first sight may be a very real thing, and based on most readers reviewing the book, it is evident that I am in the minority. I knew it would be a tear jerker and I w...
Although I really wanted to love this book, I am sad to say that it just didn't happen for me. Love at first sight may be a very real thing, and based on most readers reviewing the book, it is evident that I am in the minority. I knew it would be a tear jerker and I wanted to be swept away, but the author just did not draw me in.

Here's what I really liked about the book:
1. Stories about crows and raven mythology
2. A very positive portrayal of the value of assisted suicide

Here's what I did not like:
1. Characters, settings and situations were not believable for me - too perfect.
2. The writing was not challenging for me - the author often writes for young adults, and I felt the vocabulary and style would have been great for that audience.
3. In the first few pages I knew the death of our heroine would occur before the end of the book, and I felt it was a slow, tedious journey getting to that point.

The book Love Story kept echoing in my mind, but then Segal also wrote a very popular book that was not well received by the critics. This book may have the same appeal, which means it could be something you will totally enjoy. But to describe it as a major literary achievement with eternal lasting qualities might be quite a stretch.

posted by JaneM on January 26, 2010

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  • Posted January 25, 2010

    A Glimpse of the Eternal

    This is an excellent book. The characters are interesting, the plot a real tear jerker, but what is most important for me is the beautiful writing. Monninger brings his natural settings to life. The emotion evoked by the power of his writing about nature is what drives the story for me.

    Deciding to set this tragic love story in such beautiful, yet harsh places make the theme obvious. The world is beautiful and terrible at the same time. We have to appreciate the beauty and live to the fullest with the tragedy and cruelty.

    I highly recommend this book. It's not an escapist fantasy. It says something about honor and living a productive life.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Eternal on The Water is a timeless masterpiece

    Joseph Monninger gives us a poignant love story. A story of hello. A story of good-bye. A story of life with all its joys and sorrows. It's like a haunting melody that stays with you long after the song is over.
    Eternal on the Water is a love story. A story of how a remarkable couple deals with a terrible and too often fact of life. Mr. Monninger is a wonderful storyteller which is evident by his flowing prose like dialogue filled with myths, folklore and stories forever told around a campfire, and interspersed with thoughts and quotes from the likes of Thoreau, Steinbeck and Darwin. He gives us wonderful picturesque scenes of wilderness glories from Main to Yellowstone to a brief stint on a quaint island in Indonesia. His characters are all three dimensional, all incredibly in depth and all wonderfully portrayed. His hero John and heroine Mary are exquisite examples of his skill as an author as he unwinds their lives for our reading pleasure.
    This is an exceptional piece of literary fiction, one that's destined to become a beloved classic enjoyed by generations of readers. As heart wrenching as it is to read this amazing story I will always come away from it with the thought of an eternal optimist who turned the lemons of life into lemonade.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2010

    LOVED IT!

    I truly enjoyed reading this book! I will definitely recommend it to my friends. This story touches on some of life's most wonderful and most tragic experiences. The scenery is beautiful, the characters are captivating, the story timeless. This is a must read for anyone who enjoys a realistic love story.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 2, 2010

    Eternal on the Water - Fantastic!

    From the very beginning of the book I was drawn in to the story. From the first time that Cobb and Mary met to the end of the book (as I was reading thru tears), I couldn't put it down! The locations used, and the words describing everything were fantastic. One of the best books I have read in a long long time. I will definitely be reading other books by Joseph Monninger...

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    One of the BEST Love Stories Ever Written!!!

    What a privilege it's been to read Eternal on the Water.

    I just finished the book last night/this morning;it took me waaaay longer to finish this book than it should have simply because I did not want to separate Cobb and Mary. Their love story was so overwhelmingly real that I could hardly bear to face the end, which of course makes no sense as I already had when I began the book.

    But emotions, and especially love don't always make sense do they?

    As for reading the end first (the book begins with Mary's death), I have to say that doing that was the most brilliant thing done technically in this novel. It made it real from the beginning, no false hope about "maybe she gets saved at the end", and it let me as a reader focus on what mattered. I got to focus on their story together, and not be distracted that "this is fiction" and so therefore think that a miracle was in store. Instead I focused on spending as much time with Mary as I could, alongside Cobb.

    A friend asked me to describe the book without giving away any spoilers yesterday after I had been raving about it. What's funny is I said "it's very real life in that surreal kind of way", lol.

    I had just read the part that talks about the movie "All That Heaven Allows" and the window scene, and was explaining how it reminded me of "Sleepless in Seattle" in that way, but that it was much more as a book than just that little moment.


    Reading Eternal on the Water was seriously like just listening to a new friend tell you his life story (thus far) because you've come to that point in the friendship where you really get to know each other; where you both begin to share that intimacy of real friendship by sharing real stories about the deeper points in your life, not just the so-called powerpoint version. So, reading this book was not like most books I read where I feel as though I'm the main character and I'm experiencing things as if they're happening to me. It's more like this conversation where I was listening to this man Cobb's amazing life story. And it's that intimacy that's so inherent in this book that made me care, and respond as if Cobb were truly my real friend. Because of this, I understand exactly what the author means when he says Cobb & Mary "whispered" their story to him instead of feeling as though he was seeing it or shown visually the story as it came to him.

    On another note, I also found it really meant something that a guy ( Cobb tells the story) was telling this story. As a woman, I don't often hear men open up so much about love stories, etc, the way women do. So all the while I felt that Cobb was telling me his story, I knew it really meant something because a guy is telling it, and so you (as a reader) feel honored to share it.

    Bottom Line:

    I LOVED this book. Thank you Joseph Monninger for writing it, and Thank you B&N for bringing us this book! It's beautiful and without a doubt one of the best love stories I've ever heard/read.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2010

    Eternal on the Water

    Eternal on the Water is a love story. Joseph Monninger gives us a poignant love story. A story of how two people deal with what life throws at them. Mr. Monninger is a wonderful storyteller which is evident by his flowing prose-like dialogue filled with myths, folklore and stories forever told around a campfire, and interspersed with thoughts and quotes from the likes of Thoreau, Steinbeck and Darwin. He gives us wonderful picturesque scenes of wilderness glories from Maine to Yellowstone to in Indonesia. His hero John and heroine Mary are exquisite examples of his skill as an author as he unwinds their lives for our reading pleasure. It was a heart wrenching story, but one I will always remember.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Not usually my cup of tea

    If you were faced with a 50-50 chance of having a fatal condition that would slowly rob your body of mental and physical functions, would you want to know? Would just the possibility of having the disease give you a more heightened awareness of life? Would you want to live life with total abandon? What would happen if you met the love of your life? Would you give this person a chance?

    Mary and Cobb will face these questions in Eternal on the Water. While the story is focused on the relationship between these two individuals, this book offers so much more to the reader. You will find yourself immersed in the wilderness of Maine, the tropical beauty of Indonesia and the majesty of Yellowstone. You will meet characters that will touch your heart and stay with you long after you finish reading the book.

    Although the premise sounds dark and depressing, the story itself is told in an uplifting way. The dialog and humor keep the story flowing over the sad parts so the reader does not drown in the unhappiness of the tale. The folkloric tales that are interwoven are entertaining and provide a nice diversion.

    I will have to admit that I normally would not consider Eternal on the Water to be a book I would pick up and read for myself. I am glad that I did decide to give it a chance; otherwise I would have missed out on a real treat. The mark of a good writer is keeping the reader enticed and entertained throughout the entire story. This is especially true when the book is one the reader would not normally find themselves reading. So kudos to Mr. Monninger for a book that is truly well written.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 3, 2010

    Wow

    I really enjoyed this selection. Once I began reading I couldn't put it down. It would be a good book for a book club discussion. It was a sweet story for nature lovers and avid readers.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 22, 2010

    Highly Recommended

    Eternal on the Water is the story of Jonathan Cobb and Mary Fury. It is a love story and a life lesson. We learn from the first sentence of the book how their story will end, but don't assume that this is the whole story because it's not. The story is how Mary faces a terminal illness with dignity and grace, living her life to the fullest making every second count, and how her approach to life affects Cobb, her family, and friends. The book is beautifully written from Cobb's point of view. His emotions as he faces Mary's illness are heartbreakingly real. I highly recommend this book. My only minor criticism is that the first and last chapters are unnecessary. Mary and Cobb's story is strong enough to stand on its own.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    Eternal on the Water

    This book is a story about love at first sight. We know that one of the characters dies from the very beginning, so we know that it is going to be a tearjerker. Since I like to know the ending of a book before I read it this was perfect for me. Cobb tells the story of the love and life that Mary and him have. Joseph Monninger mixed in folk lore in with the great adventures that Mary and Cobb take. I think that it was a fantastic book and that you should read it for yourself.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Eternal on the Water

    Joseph Monninger's ETERNAL ON THE WATER is a wonderful love story that begins in the woods of Maine. Jonathan Cobb takes a break from his teaching job to experience nature as Thoreau did. While on his sabbatical he meets Mary, a free spirit and while enjoying their first night by the campfire, a true love story begins. Mary's tales enchant him; her knock-knock jokes not so much. They travel to Indonesia, Yellowstone National Park and back to New England. Mary is a member of the Chungamunga Girls, a secret society of girls who experience life in the forest. Monninger has written a heartbreaking journey of feeling love, experiencing life to its fullest and understanding death.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A poignant portrayal of love and a life lived fully

    Without giving spoilers-this story shows two lives that meshed beautifully together and characters that lived a fully rich while life not accepting any limitations. I loved the chungamunga girls and what they add to girlhood.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Beautiful Love Story

    Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger is a well told and heart wrenching love story set against the Allagash River in the wilderness of Maine, the islands of Indonesia and

    Yellowstone National Park. Right from the beginning we know that the young couple will not have a happily ever after fairy tale ending and yet the story remains an uplifting

    tale of the power of true love.

    The book begins when a woman's body is discovered in the river and her husband tells their story to a ranger. Jonathan Cobb was kayaking and attempting to trace Thoreau's path

    down the Allagash River when he met Mary Fury. They had so much in common and they fell in love immediately.

    Cobb is a loving, devoted person and Mary was a bit of a flake but they knew they were soul mates. Mary had Huntington's disease, a debilitating illness. She intended to end her

    life before she became a burden and she told Cobb he would have to help her when the time came. He agreed and they had a good life, lived to the fullest. For as long as they

    could, they embraced nature and their relationship. When the time came, Cobb fulfilled his promise and there was a heart-breaking send off.

    The description is vivid and puts you right in the scene. The symbolism of nature and the river adds an extraordinary depth. The emotional journey of two people was so well

    portrayed it brought tears to my eyes several times. This is a very special story about love, nature and true commitment. I recommend it very highly.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2010

    A great way to start the new year.

    Eternal on the Water is formost a love story, the kind you want to read on a rainy day or when you just need to get away. But it is also more than that. It is a life story. From kayaking in Maine, to releasing turtles in Indonesia and tracking wolves in Yellowstone the story pulls us into the lives of Cobb and Mary. You know it's going to end and you know how it's going to end but getting there has all the requirements for a very enjoyable read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 15, 2010

    One of the best books I've read this year...

    I really liked this book and hated to have it end. For me, it's one of those where the characters will creep into my thoughts randomly, I'm sure!

    The characters were well-developed and the writing was exceptional. I loved the mythical stories woven throughout and found the topic of corvids to be a tempting "side read"! The description of the New England landscapes made me feel the crisp, cool nights and smell the evergreens, and the same goes for the writing of the locales in Indonesia.

    I think Mr. Monninger did an exceptional job with this subject and I've made a point of recommending it to the many people with whom I share book knowledge.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 11, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    We are part of nature

    ETERNAL ON THE WATER is a lovely book that takes Life and Love and mixes them into a perfect match. The flow of the story is like a river, often running over rocks and between crevices but coming to a peaceful pool at the end. The two main characters Mary and Cobb find each other, fall in love, and deal with the ultimate challenge, death, in a beautiful way within the scenery of nature. It is not a romance book so do not skip over it because of the love element, but it is a view of how two different people deal with living in the present moment and deal with their future, knowing what is coming. This story has had me thinking about it long after I finished the book and that is unusual nowadays.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2010

    A book that will stay with you

    This really isn't my type of book at all and yet I loved every minute of it. The characters are believable and I felt like I was there on the river experiencing everything.

    I have read a few books since and I still find myself thinking of Eternal on the Water.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2010

    What a beautiful book

    This was a beautiful story beautifully written. It was one of the best books I've read in a long time. I came to know and love the main characters Mary and Cobb. He is devoted and loving. She is passionate and a tad off center. The writer made the characters so real for me that in a conversation with someone unrelated to the book I thought of one of the characters in the book and had to remind myself that he was not a real person. I highly recommend this book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 6, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Just beautiful

    Let me start by saying that I am not a crier. But "Eternal on the Water" by Joseph Monninger brought me to tears several times. Now that's the sign of a good book.

    The two main characters, Jonathan Cobb and Mary Fury, meet as they start two journeys that become one down the Allagash River in Maine. Jonathan is a teacher retracing the trail of Thoreau. Mary is a biologist who specializes in crows. They fall in love almost instantly and take a sometimes happy and calm, sometimes treacherous and scary trip down the river, which becomes a metaphor for the journey in life they'll take.

    Along the way, they meet a Girl Scout-like group with the wonderful name of the Chungamunga Girls. But the distinguishing characteristic of the members is that they all have serious medical conditions, some of which are fatal. As Cobb falls for Mary, he discovers she's one of them.

    Mary has Huntington's disease, about which I'd heard but knew little. This book is a great crash course in it. Before they even leave the river to return to the real world, Mary tells Cobb that when the time comes that her quality of life is poor, she will end that life. She lets him know that helping her do that is the cost of loving her. He agrees.

    Along the way, Monninger takes the reader to Indonesia, where Mary's brother, Freddy, saves turtles, and to Yellowstone, where Mary studies her beloved crows. Cobb and Mary have a wonderful life together, but her disease makes itself known more and more.

    Nature is really another character in this book. Readers travel down the river, camp out, swim with turtles and read enchanting legends about crows and bears.

    The minor characters are used just enough. Those include Mary's mother, who watched her husband and Mary's father die of Huntington's and knows that Mary carries the gene, though Mary refuses to find out and doesn't know for sure until she starts losing her balance and getting confused.

    We start the book knowing that Mary is dead and that Cobb helped her die. After her body is found in the river, Cobb tells the story of their lives together to a ranger. The book ends with a beautiful but heartbreaking send-off by her family and closest friends.

    The book begins and ends with the reader knowing that Cobb fulfilled his promise to Mary by letting go of what he loved most in the world. The rest of "Eternal on the Water" tells us how and why. As he says, "We do the thing we can. The thing in front of us. We do our best."

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 5, 2010

    Heartwarming & Heartwrenching

    Eternal on the Water is a beautiful, graceful, sad, whimsical, funny, joyful story and I absolutely fell in love with it. As I came to the last few chapters I read slower and slower not just because I knew I'd cry buckets at the ending but because I wanted to savour the feelings this story evoked. It's a book about 'Yeti' love, about life and really living it.

    "... Yeti love. You never expect to see it, but you've heard it's out there and it might just be a legend. But you keep looking for it anyway."

    "You don't value a fire any less because someday it will go out."

    I don't want to give too much away because this is truly a book you have to experience yourself to appreciate its beauty. Joseph Monninger begins Eternal on the Water with the ending but I can tell you that knowing the ending and seeing the ending play out, are two very different things. Mary and Cobb felt real to me, more than characters in a book, and when you're emotionally invested & connected taking the journey with them is so much more than just ... knowing. This story reinforces my belief in the well known quote "it's the journey that matters, not the destination."

    Monninger's storytelling is a gift, the vivid imagery, the beautiful descriptions of nature, the quirky myths & tales of bears and crows, put you right in the moment. I don't even like crows and yet I found myself captivated by Mary's enthusiasm and love for corvids (crows & ravens.) This story would not be what it is without the Chungamunga girls, and even though I can't explain their significance without giving away spoilers, they play an integral part, both heartwarming and heartwrenching. I'm sure each person reading Eternal on the Water will take something different from the seamless blend of laughter, tears, joy, and sadness and I'm sure my review can't possibly do this story justice, so please read it yourself and decide.

    Eternal on the Water touched my heart and the story has stayed with me long after the last page was turned. It invites you to believe in love at first sight, it inspires you to celebrate life, to value each and every moment, to live each day to the fullest and find joy in the simple things. It's one of those special stories you want everyone to love, just as much as you do.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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