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Three Views of Crystal Water – Katherine Govier



Posted September 1, 2016 by


Reviewed by: Janelle Martin         Date: 5 July 2005


Three Views of Crystal Water by Katherine Govier tells the story of Vera, a young Japanese-Canadian at a crucial crossroads in her life told against the backdrop of the days leading up to World War II.

Vera’s young life has been full of familial loss – first her father left their family to follow his pearl lust, then her mother commits suicide and finally her grandfather dies. Left alone, Vera travels with her grandfather’s widow to Japan to live among the ama divers, women who live with unprecedented freedom. Used to loss, Vera exhibits a skittishness in joining the life of her new village, is slow to trust and slowly begins to develop her own luster as she takes control of her destiny. Vera slowly learns the skills of the ama divers while gaining a sense of her own identity, defined by who she is rather than by those who have left her.

Alternating between Vera’s story and that of her family, we slowly gain an understanding of what has driven them in their passion for pearls. The shadowy world of Japan fighting a battle for Asian domination is the perfect foil for Vera’s tale.

This is a quiet, intimate novel with a shifting surface, as changeable as the pearl at the heart of the tale. The language is enthralling and Katherine Govier evokes a time and location that to many is shrouded with mystery.

Three Views of Crystal Water is a window into a story overlooked by many when studying World War II. While painting a large canvas showing a nation creating history, Govier never falters in creating an intimate and profound story of one woman finding her place in the world.

Three Views of Crystal Water – Katherine Govier – 2005

ReadLit Team


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