Boston needs water. The engineers know where to find it. But four towns stand in their way.

I am entirely a creature of my life’s sad events, committed to patience now, to endurance if nothing else. I am a part of my surroundings and they are all contained in me. Girl expecting the water. — Polly McPhee, Greenwich, Massachusetts, 1934

Read an excerpt from Swift River

Swift River is the intimate yet far-reaching tale of Polly McPhee, a native of Greenwich, a small central Massachusetts town condemned with three others in 1927 to create a permanent supply of clean water for the people of Boston. One of the most successful and cost-effective civil engineering projects in history, the Quabbin Reservoir secured fresh water for millions by drowning the Swift River Valley, once home to the Nipmuc and then to generations of farmers, merchants, artisans, and mill workers.
As the novel unfolds, Polly matures from a girl who sees the water project as a particularly unfair phenomenon of an adult world that rarely makes sense to her anyway to a woman who understands that ultimately all of our pasts and memories must be drowned and erased from sight. As she discovers new sources of joy and suffers a series of profound losses, the project assumes an ever more complex and far more significant role in Polly’s life and universe, ultimately becoming a dangerous but powerful ally in her path to survival and redemption.
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Swift River includes illustrations by Katarzyna Maciak. valley d