Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Reservoir: My Thoughts Are In A Whirl!

I just finished The Reservoir last night, and it is one of those books where you are constantly second guessing yourself.  Did he do it, or didn't he?  


I must confess that when I first started this novel, I was convinced Tommie did murder Lillian.  Told from his perspective, he takes great pains to cover his tracks, remain calm, and not give anything away.  So as a reader, you are lead into this story believing he's got something to hide.


As the story progresses, Lillian is identified, and rumors swirl about a young man who was meeting her at her hotel the night of her death.  Lillian's father, a rather horrid man (who is accused by more than one person of sexually abusing Lillian) points the finger at Tommie, and does everything he can to get Tommie arrested.  Who's the father of Lillian's unborn child?  And why did she end up in the reservoir?  


That this novel was based on an actual sensational murder case in Richmond, Virginia in 1885 gives this story  an unusual slant.  That we can search the internet and find articles and blogs about this murder is incredible.  But did Tommie do it?  We will never know.  And Tommie's character doesn't help but muddy the waters. At first, I thought he did it.  Then, after the guilty verdict, he tells his brother what really happened--that Lillian wanted to kill herself, and slipped on the snow, hit her head, and fell into the reservoir.  But then a bit later, he tells a different tale--that maybe he did hit her in the head, and push her into the reservoir.  By the end of the novel, you have to decide for yourself whether an innocent man was put to death, or if he was guilty.  I can't say for sure what I think is the truth, and that's what makes this such a fascinating story.  With today's forensic technology, would anything new have been discovered?   Tests certainly would have been done to see if the baby was Tommie's.  That would have been motive.  Who knows?  


If you haven't read The Reservoir, I recommend it.  It's a great courtroom drama; a tale of human desires, needs, and desperation.  And most of all, it's about making choices that will ripple through not only your life, but history.  I can see why the author became so fascinated with this murder case.  


Next week I will be posting a few titles that are in my "to be read" pile, along with some discussion questions for reading groups--and what makes each title a great reading group choice!  

1 comment:

L Harris said...

Sounds like a book I'd like to read. Thanks for your review and comments. I couldn't get it from my library, or purchase it in time to read with you. It's on my goodreads list now.