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The Water Cure

by Sophie Mackintosh

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4252142,563 (3.29)36
"An extraordinary otherworldly debut... [Mackintosh] is writing the way that Sofia Coppola would shoot the end of the world: everything is luminous, precise, slow to the point of dread." --The Guardian The Handmaid's Tale meets The Virgin Suicides in this dystopic feminist revenge fantasy about three sisters on an isolated island, raised to fear men King has tenderly staked out a territory for his wife and three daughters, Grace, Lia, and Sky. He has lain the barbed wire; he has anchored the buoys in the water; he has marked out a clear message: Do not enter . Or viewed from another angle: Not safe to leave . Here women are protected from the chaos and violence of men on the mainland. The cult-like rituals and therapies they endure fortify them from the spreading toxicity of a degrading world. But when their father, the only man they've ever seen, disappears, they retreat further inward until the day two men and a boy wash ashore. Over the span of one blistering hot week, a psychological cat-and-mouse game plays out. Sexual tensions and sibling rivalries flare as the sisters confront the amorphous threat the strangers represent. Can they survive the men? A haunting, riveting debut about the capacity for violence and the potency of female desire, The Water Cure both devastates and astonishes as it reflects our own world back at us. Determined to protect his wife and daughters from the chaos and violence of men on the mainland, King moves them to an isolated island, lays out barbed wire, and anchored buoys with a clear message: Do not enter. He institutes cult-like rituals and therapies to fortify them from the spreading toxicity of a degrading world. When King disappears, they retreat further inward... until the day two men and a boy wash ashore. Sexual tensions and sibling rivalries flare as the sisters confront the amorphous threat the strangers represent. -- adapted from jacket… (more)
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    Women Talking by Miriam Toews (hairball)
    hairball: They go together like a dry, choking mouthful of peanut butter on crackers. I don’t mean that in a bad way—just, hard topics.
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» See also 36 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
I read a number of reviews that were indicative that the perception of the book was that it was a story of a misogynistic dystopia, and the nonsensical endorsement from Margaret Atwood of " The Handmaid's Tale" fame ....." a gripping, sinister fable" ( there is no moral lesson imparted by The Water Cure, though the story is definitely gripping and sinister ) probably contributed to that perception. Just an FYI, Margaret Atwood did write other things that were not dystopian. The Water Cure is an extreme example of family breakdown, and that the desire for love and succor will always supersede anything and everything. ( )
  EvaJanczaruk | May 31, 2020 |
I picked "The Water Cure" as one of four books to read from the 2018 Man Booker Longlist. I liked the speculative fiction premise of young women, raised in isolation in a post-apocalyptic world, encountering men for the first time and having to reconsider what they think they know.

"The Water Cure" got off to a slow and difficult start but was intriguing enough to keep me interested. I liked the rapid succession of short chapters, written from the point of view of each of the three sisters. This worked well in the audiobook version I read, where each sister get's her own narrator.

The we-only-know-this-island innocence of the sisters means that they take their exotic situation for granted and do little to explain it to the reader.

It soon became clear that with was not going to be your typical post-apocalyptic dystopian novel. I was reminded more of "The Tempest" if Miranda hag had two sisters.

After the ten per cent mark, I started to get bored and a little angry. I got bored because, although many short chapters shot by, NOTHING HAPPENED in any of them except the young women sharing the details of the strange rituals (called therapies) that dominate their lives. I became angered by the abuse these young women had suffered.

I get the need to pace the book so that I can FEEL the stifling effects on the sisters of isolation and ignorance combined with forced ritual intimacy, but enough already.

I began to feel as if I were trapped in the middle of a front row at "Waiting For Godot" and I'm so embarrassed by what other people will think of me that I stay in my seat long after my boredom threatens to be terminal and I suspect Beckett of being a sadist with a wicked sense of humour.

I made it as far as the twenty-five percent mark because the voices of the sisters were strong and distinct and because I could no more look away from the spectacle of the Bennet sisters transported to an island where they are subjected to abuse that they've educated to understand as sympathetic magic, than I could look away from a building about to be demolished by well-placed charges.

I'd hoped that the arrival of the men would change the pace but it didn't and I finally admitted to myself that I was reading this book because it was "worthy" rather than because I was getting anything out of it. I'd promised myself I wouldn't do that anymore so I abandoned "The Water Cure" at twenty-five per cent mark.

It may win the Mann Booker prize but it didn't make a place for itself in my imagination.

Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample of the book.


[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/447441624" params="color=#ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true" width="100%" height="300" iframe="true" /] ( )
  MikeFinnFiction | May 16, 2020 |
This is a very poetic book in prose form.

The style is flowy, especially throughout the first half of the book; it’s divided into three parts.

One month after we lose our father, King, I am standing at the edge of the swimming pool, in the lavender light that comes up where the border hits the sky. Our pool is the sea made safe, salt water filtered through unseen pipes and sluices, blue and white tiles surrounding it and a marble counter where drinks were once served. Thick rivets of salt are laid down on the tiles immediately bordering the water, guarding against toxins brought in on the wind. King explained to us that the salt drew out badness like damp, his hands quick and busy as he scattered it, tanned a deep, dry brown.

The contents of the book are not as interesting as the style of the book—to myself, at least. Having stated that, the contents are interesting; there’s a constant tension through the book, mainly due to how the daughters of an overpowering matriarch react to the world around them.

This book strangely reminded me lot of Yorgos Lathimos’s film “Dogtooth“.

A powerful read, with phrases still singing in my head. It’s a story of gender, family, power, freedom, the everyday, the insane, the good; what it is to be human. Veer off simplistic TV series like “Sharp Objects” and get into this instead. ( )
  pivic | Mar 21, 2020 |
I received this digital copy from Doubleday Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of this book in any way. All quotes are taken from the uncorrected proof and are subject to change.

Obligatory Summary

Three sisters live alone with only their father and mother, cordoned off by the sea and by the rusting fence and the forest. Once, long ago, their home was a restorative retreat for ailing women seeking their special therapy--the water cure--that claimed to heal them of the wearies of a dying world. Now, they are all alone, with only each other as company, performing their water rituals in solitude.

But their father, King disappears, seemingly dead and taken by the sea. And then, worst of all, three men emerge from the sea, and everything changes.

The Writing and Worldbuilding

Every time I think I am very lonely, it becomes bleaker and more true. You can think things into being. You can dwell them up from the ground.
I loved the writing and the story. It felt like The Handmaid's Tale merged with an adult version of Delirium and it utterly captivated me. I read it all in one sitting, barely able to put it down. The imagery and atmosphere was excellent. I liked the vagueness of the world beyond--whether this is set in some dystopic future or modern day in the quiet places of the world. It really added to the ambiguous atmosphere.

I was not a huge fan of the random interludes from random women. They were sometimes pretty good and were not altogether bad, but often distracted from the plot.

The heart must be willing. The heart must be a traitor. But we are all traitors in some way.
I have, however, some mixed feelings about the themes. As a whole, I loved this. I would have given it 5 stars if not for what I consider its fatal flaw: I don't like this particular brand of feminism, and think that it's ultimate and final message might be damaging rather than helpful.

To avoid spoilers, I will only speak in vague terms, but there is in general a great lack of nuance regarding the place of men in this story. As this is written, all men are evil, opportunistic brutes. Even those who are not so bad are worthless, despicable monsters in their own way. And yet so are the women in this. But they are shown to have some redeeming qualities, which the men are not quite allowed. To me, this is problematic. Yes, women suffer at the hand of men, and often other women, but that doesn't mean it is evil to be male, no more than it is evil to be female.

Once it was clear, as the story started winding down, that this was the message I was to take from it all, I felt ill and angry. I finished it not to see how it all ends, but simply to be done with it. I hate this kind of feminism. It ruins the progress women have made, in my opinion. I suppose I should have known when it was advertised as a "feminist revenge fantasy" but I thought, based on the majority of the story, that it would be more than that. Unfortunately, I was wrong. The rest of the feminist themes were fantastic and I loved them. It was only that men-hating part that bothered me.

The Characters

What must it be like, to live in a world that wants to kill you? Where every breath is an affront?
Lia: She was my favorite character, by far. Most of the book is in her perspective, as she falls in love and lust with Llew. Her strangeness and familiar aspects were so well done and intriguing. I really loved reading about her.

Grace: She was good at first, but she kind of ruined things at the end with her sanctimoniousness.

Llew: He was fascinating and I really liked him as a character. His son Gwil was mostly background, but I did like him enough.

Sky: There really wasn't much to this third sister, as she didn't get a perspective of her own and kinda just hovered through the story, not doing much, but she did act as a good balance between the other two sisters.

James: I liked him. Kind of gave me Uncle Iroh vibes, so the way things ended with him made me kinda mad tbh

Mother: She was also fascinating, and I loved and hated her. Such an interesting character.

King: We never actually got to see him, but I did like the way he was written through other's eyes, and how my opinion of him changes as the story goes on and I learn more about him (or have my suspicions confirmed, as the case may be)

Conclusion

I liked it, and my heart says 4 stars, but the bitterness it made me feel deserves a 3 stars.

It also taught me that loss is a thing that builds around you. That what feels like safety is often just absence of current harm, and those two things are not the same. ( )
  Faith_Murri | Dec 9, 2019 |



Arc Book Review
Release Date-24/5/18

This one really wasn't for me at all and originally I did stop at 39% and it was going to be a DNF.
But I decided to persevere and forced myself to finish. Hoping it would get better.
I’m sorry to say for me it didn’t.
So although on paper this seemed a good fit for me in actuality it just wasn't.
I have seen reviews on "The Wate Cure" praising the brilliance of the prose and yes while I do agree the language used here had an almost fluid brilliance to it it still for me fell flat in capturing and then retaining my complete attention.
I don't mind admitting I felt a little lost in my overall comprehension here and while scratching my head still in confusion at a third in I decided enough was enough.
That was when I decided to down tools before later reconsidering as I just didn’t want to be beaten by this.
I really didn't have the foggiest most of the time what the deal was here and if I'm honest I was bored and couldn't be bothered to stay the course and find out really.
It was my sheer bloody determination that got me through this.
I am if I'm honest slightly disappointed as the blurb for this was ever so intriguing but In my opinion, this was spoiled by attempting to be too highbrow in its execution keeping me in an unnecessary state of confusion that for me rather than making me want to know more just did the complete opposite.
I don’t know what I expected from this but this sure wasn’t it.
Maybe I'm just not clever enough to truly appreciate “The Water Cure"
I read to escape and this was just too much like hard work for me.
I'm sure there are others who will absolutely adore this strange dystopian type drama I'm just really not one of them sorry.
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of "The Water Cure" of which I have reviewed voluntary.
All opinions expressed are entirely my own.



Reviewed By Beckie Bookworm.
https://www.facebook.com/beckiebookworm/
www.beckiebookworm.com ( )
  carpathian1974 | Nov 7, 2019 |
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p.203: As I watch the ghost move up and down in the surf, but not closer to shore, a fist of grief opens in my chest. There is a new wrongness in the air between us that threatens to engulf everything. This is what happens when the people you love leave you. The is what happens when the protection no longer holds.
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"An extraordinary otherworldly debut... [Mackintosh] is writing the way that Sofia Coppola would shoot the end of the world: everything is luminous, precise, slow to the point of dread." --The Guardian The Handmaid's Tale meets The Virgin Suicides in this dystopic feminist revenge fantasy about three sisters on an isolated island, raised to fear men King has tenderly staked out a territory for his wife and three daughters, Grace, Lia, and Sky. He has lain the barbed wire; he has anchored the buoys in the water; he has marked out a clear message: Do not enter . Or viewed from another angle: Not safe to leave . Here women are protected from the chaos and violence of men on the mainland. The cult-like rituals and therapies they endure fortify them from the spreading toxicity of a degrading world. But when their father, the only man they've ever seen, disappears, they retreat further inward until the day two men and a boy wash ashore. Over the span of one blistering hot week, a psychological cat-and-mouse game plays out. Sexual tensions and sibling rivalries flare as the sisters confront the amorphous threat the strangers represent. Can they survive the men? A haunting, riveting debut about the capacity for violence and the potency of female desire, The Water Cure both devastates and astonishes as it reflects our own world back at us. Determined to protect his wife and daughters from the chaos and violence of men on the mainland, King moves them to an isolated island, lays out barbed wire, and anchored buoys with a clear message: Do not enter. He institutes cult-like rituals and therapies to fortify them from the spreading toxicity of a degrading world. When King disappears, they retreat further inward... until the day two men and a boy wash ashore. Sexual tensions and sibling rivalries flare as the sisters confront the amorphous threat the strangers represent. -- adapted from jacket

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Imagine a world very close to our own: where women are not safe in their bodies, where desperate measures are required to raise a daughter. This is the story of Grace, Lia and Sky, kept apart from the world for their own good and taught the terrible things that every woman must learn about love. And it is the story of the men who come to find them - three strangers washed up by the sea, their gazes hungry and insistent, trailing desire and destruction in their wake.

The Water Cure is a fever dream, a blazing vision of suffering, sisterhood and transformation.
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