At the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, 17-year-old Jesse Austin just loses the 100-meter freestyle to an Australian swimmer. That moment, suspended forever in the Olympic pool's aquamarine, will haunt Jesse for the rest of her life—or, more properly, her lives.
With dazzling ingenuity, Carol Anshaw presents Jesse Austin in 1990, on the verge of turning forty, inhabiting three equally possible lives. Each of Jesse's lives is an extension of choices made or not made after Mexico City; each contains the ache of past loss; each is defined by love lost and found. Jesse's choices have brought her to marry, divorce, and remain single, to love men and women, to live in and away from her Missouri hometown. But Jesse is always haunted by the moment she can't get back to—the moment hidden behind the aquamarine.
Aquamarine seamlessly weaves together three scenarios connected by the emotional ties that bind Jesse to the people in her past, who are also part of her haunted present: her eccentric godmother, her adoring retarded brother, her hard-hearted mother, and the elusive, seductive Australian, Marty Finch. Aquamarine plays exhilarating variations on the theme of lost love and examines the unlived lives running parallel to the one we have chosen.