Jacob’s Well

Jacob’s Well Cover

Originally published in 1984, Stephen Harrigan's passionate, emotionally intense second novel takes readers deep into the mysterious passageways of a Central Texas aquifer—and of the human heart. This edition includes a new afterword by the author.



“Against the backdrop of Austin, Tex., Harrigan, author of the critically praised first novel Aransas, portrays. . .three people, all of them motivated by a need to overcome loneliness and to retrieve their submerged passions. . . At times deeply moving and wise, this novel reveals Harrigan's increasing maturity as a novelist.”—Publisher's Weekly

“Harrigan has written a book which rings true, one whose principal characters are easy to recognize and never grandstand in their quest for ultimate truths. Their struggles to find direction for their lives--to death itself, if that is where meaning can be found--are authentic and compelling.”—The Houston Post

“Harrigan's characters are deftly drawn and his writing is spare and elegant. The result is a short, concise story told with humor, wisdom and considerable literary skill. . . It is a significant work by an author whose talents, like the depths of Jacob's Well itself, seem limitless.”—United Press International

“The storyline, so quiet at first, builds to the final, harrowing scene with more tension than any number of contrived thrillers. The structure is seamless, the characters precise. . . Jacob's Well is the definitive Austin novel. It is also one of that handful of truly great Texas novels.”—Third Coast

“Stephen Harrigan makes every page of his book seem new. . . When Sam, Libby, and Rick make their climactic dive into the well's nether passages, the suspense functions on several levels at once. Will they come out alive? How is the triangle going to resolve itself? Can the novelist succeed in fusing his several strands of plot and character with a single blaze of action?
"My conscience won't let me answer the first two questions in the presence of anyone inclined to read the book, but I have no qualms about the third: yes, indeed.”—The Washington Post

“The suspense is as pressurized as the atmosphere 150 feet below the surface. Jacob's Well delivers satisfaction from beginning to end. The action sequences are authentic and taut. The love affairs and the nuances of emotion between the three protagonists ring painfully true.”—The St. Louis Globe-Democrat

“Not many novelists these days attempt more than a brilliant suface or the evocation of a place and time. Stephen Harrigan takes a chance when he goes yet another layer deeper, but the chance is worth the taking and it is a great pleasure to go with him.”—The Dallas Morning News

“Stephen Harrigan has taken a big step toward becoming the writer who captures contemporary Texas better than anyone.”—The Texas Humanist

“Jacob's Well presents a Texas that is authentic but not stylized. It's a Texas of dope dealers and academics, scuba divers and college students. . . This is not a story of Big Texans in a Texas writ large. Instead, at the novel's core is the examined life.”—The Texas Observer

“Jacob's Well is one of the finest novels to be written in Texas in the last ten years. Exquisitely painful at times, Stephen Harrigan's second novel is also deeply humane--a thoughtful and thought-provoking story of how three individuals make peace with themselves, each other, and the world around them.”—The San Antonio Express-News

“An emotionally resonant novel”—Newsweek

“Harrigan is a fine writer. He has a clear, distinctive voice, a feel for the rhythms of the Earth and of its creatures, a vision that is broad and deep and full of the hope and the courage to take chances.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“A passionate and compelling adventure. . . deftly written.”—El Paso Herald-Post

“Extraordinarily intense. . . It's not only the tone of muscular wistfulness that gives his writing its force. It's the clarity, too. . . you sense the author's buoyance and confidence in every line. . . It's one of those books you press on best friends. You know that when they're done they'll feel, like you, the rueful strength that was intended.”—The Providence Journal

“A mystical and evocative story that leads the reader through a labyrinth of hidden passageways and self discoveries. It encompasses the ideas of falling in and out of love, of self-knowledge and self-growth, of jealousy and loneliness. . . the reader is drawn into an intricately created landscape of earth and body, water and soul.”—The Desert Sun