The Weight of Water – Characters

Jean Janes
A professional photographer who plans the boat trip on her brother-in-law’s boat to photograph Smuttynose Island, the location of the 1873 murders of Karen and Anethe Christensen. She met her husband, Thomas, in a bar in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when she was 24. A farm girl from Indiana, she moved to Boston for school at age 17. Her hair is a faded chestnut color, but she does not consider herself to be beautiful, or even pretty.

Thomas Janes
The prize-winning author of The Magdalene Poems. A man who looks to tall for his surroundings, he is thin and has a scar on one side of his face that runs from his eye to his chin, the result of a car accident at age 17. His eyes are navy and flecked with gold. He grew up in Hull, Massachusetts.

Billie Janes
The five-year-old daughter of Jean and Thomas, she is called Billie, but that is short for Willemina, her grandmother’s name. Light haired with large, dark eyes, she has extravagantly long lashes, a temporary lisp due to the loss of two teeth and doting parents. She is an effervescent child, bubbly and engaged.

Rich Janes
Thomas’ younger brother by 10 years. Rich is a man who looks like a wrestler, with a shaved head and perfect teeth. He gives the impression of a man for whom nothing has ever been complicated. His job is as a publisher of technical journals, and he is the owner of the Morgan, the sloop on which the family is taking a summer trip from Hull to Anisquam to the Isles of Shoals.

Adaline Gunne
Rich’s girlfriend, a reader with great admiration for Thomas’ poems. A native of southern Ireland, she has a residue of an Irish accent and moves like a dancer. She works for the Bank of Boston in an international division. She has scars on her wrists, as if she once cut them with a razor. She is the mother of a three-year-old girl who lives with the girl’s father in California.

Maren Hontvedt
A Norwegian immigrant, she had a dreamy disposition as a girl and no patience for domestic skills. She was a pretty girl in her youth with light and soft brown hair that picked up the summer sun with light gray eyes. She alone survived the atrocity that befell the three Christensen girls on the fifth of May 1873.

John Hontvedt
Maren’s estranged husband. A fisherman.

Karen Christensen
Maren’s older sister. A plain girl with unchanging dingy, brown eyes and dull brown, fawn-colored hair un-tinged by golden highlights from the sun. Her hair was always pulled severely behind her ears, with a fringe at her forehead, and rolled and fastened at the back of her head. She was tall and had good posture and served as the kind of watch keeper of the house.

Evan Christensen
Maren’s brother, a tall man with slightly crooked teeth in the front and a handsome face that resembled his father’s. He worked as a fisherman in Norway.

Anethe Christensen
Evan’s wife, also from Norway and quite beautiful. She had a clear, shimmering complexion and green eyes. Her hair, warmed by the sun, was worn loose and wild.