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The Water Cure: A Novel by Sophie MacKintosh
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The Water Cure: A Novel

by Sophie MacKintosh

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
From the first, I wanted to come to this book knowing as little about what was to come as possible. I stayed away from publisher and reader reviews and felt rewarded from the very first page, which immediately presented an enigma. Three sisters writing in the "we" voice. Their father has disappeared. Died. As we move forward, we learn about them as individuals and as a group. We learn about a hard mother. But what we learn is revealed in bits and pieces and we are left with more questions than answers. What is clear is that the sisters have not been treated well by parents who claimed to want to protect and isolate them from a toxic world. From toxic masculinity. Their parents have sought to harden the sisters to make them immune to the diseases which afflict all women in the dystopic reality they inhabit. This is where the feminism comes in. I could personally relate to this. I had a single mother who was a hardened feminist, and she certainly sought to harden me and warn me against men, how they could use sex to harm us before I even understood what sex was, and I, a romantic, sentimental, melancholy child, felt her approach to be brutal and harsh. Perhaps I could relate to the sisters, to the kind of experimental treatments they'd been subjected to, all for the cause of keeping them safe. Just a little bit. Minus the physical abuses.

The father, we learn from the beginning, was called King, which, if you are attuned to such things, should alert you to the fact that such a name for a very large man who claimed to humble himself for the sake of women, was suspect, at the very least. For those who do read the publisher's blurb, I am not spoiling anything by revealing that two men and a small boy, castaways, eventually arrive at their hideaway, in need of water and shelter, and upset the strange kind of life the women have made for themselves after King's sudden death. The voice of sister Lia takes up a large part of the story. Lia, unlike the others, hasn't managed to bury her love, her passion, as her parents have taught them to do through countless often cruel exercises. She needs, wants, is desperate to feel things, to touch and be touched, even at the risk of harming herself and those she loves. Small wonder I connected to her most.

As I say, best to come to this novel without expectation. Best to come without expecting answers, above all else, and to be satisfied with the journey; Sophie Mackintosh's writing is beautiful and somehow hypnotic. This is an unpleasant tale, and yet I found myself devouring it. It will make you uncomfortable, and that is probably the point. For this reason, it will displease many readers. The one blurb that caught me and that made me want to read this book was Margaret Atwood's: "A gripping, sinister fable." I've been a Margaret Atwood fan for over 30 years now, and she did not disappoint me this time either. It was gripping. And it was indeed very, very sinister. ( )
1 vote Smiler69 | Feb 16, 2019 |
I finished this book and I just don't quite know how I feel about it - on many levels, I found it deeply disturbing in the way that a lot of good literature is disturbing. The novel features three sisters who have grown up with their parents on an island separate from the world, which they believe to be toxic, especially to weak female bodies. Their world is up-ended when a group of men are stranded on the shore of their home. The interactions that result bring the sisters' long-held beliefs into questions and they each struggle to come to terms with how their world has changed. I can't say I liked this book, but I will say that it was interesting and I'll certainly be mulling it over in my mind for some time.
  wagner.sarah35 | Jan 23, 2019 |
Forget everything the publishing world has put out about The Water Cure. Chances are it is nowhere close to being an accurate picture of the novel. For one thing, it is not similar to The Handmaid’s Tale in any way. For another thing, there is nothing feminist nor vengeful about the story or the characters. If I have to compare it to another book, it is most similar to Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed, but even that is doing Sophie Mackintosh’s debut novel a disservice because it sets up expectations that the story does not meet.

In talking to a friend about The Water Cure, I said it was beautiful and haunting but confusing and weird, and that is how I still feel about the story. There are no explanations about the outside world that satisfies readers. We learn nothing about the family’s backstory that would help make sense of the refuge offered to women, the cures used, and why. What little we do learn is disturbing, especially when you remember that the publisher is marketing it as a feminist revenge fantasy.

The only reason I opted to finish the book is due to the writing. It is beautiful and evocative. Capable of hiding the most brutal behavior behind poetic descriptions, Ms. Mackintosh’s prose holds your attention. Unfortunately, it also camouflages the flaws in the story until the end, when you are left to wonder what exactly you read and why you finished it.

I am sure there are going to be those readers who will think The Water Cure is one of the best new releases of 2019, and that’s great for them. For me, the cult-like aspect of the family with its cruel lessons about love is not something that impresses me. There are better books out there that also explore family and love and gender relations and do so in a way that does not frustrate you with gaps in the story or nebulous clues requiring you to fill in those gaps. The writing may be excellent, but it is not enough to overcome the story’s paltry plot and weak characters.
  jmchshannon | Jan 11, 2019 |
I thought this book was just ok. The story takes place in a time when men are bigger and more ruthless. Women are mistreated and vulnerable. There is also vague talk about toxic air and sickness.

Lia, Sky and Grace live an isolated life on an island with their mother and their father, known as King. It is very vague about what this new world is like (men vs. women) and why their is sickness. I think the author probably did that on purpose for the readers to have a feel of the sisters and how little they know of the world. They only hear about the evils of the world as told by their parents. They are cruel and through numerous "therapies", condition their children to be tough and banish feelings. It really is child abuse and it is no surprise the three become brain washed and disturbed.

When King disappears and 2 men and a young boy wash up on shore...things come to a head. I just found this book difficult to read because the women were beyond hope. The book is described as feminist dystopian, but it really is a psychological look at how abuse and isolation can alter a sense of humanity and kindness. It also reminded me of a cult. I received a complimentary e-book from the publisher at Netgalley.com in exchange for a review. ( )
  melaniehope | Dec 22, 2018 |
This story is a metaphor for... something. The inherent violence we all harbor inside us? The idea that relations between men and women can never be peaceful? I honestly don't know. The writing is lovely, lyrical and haunting but too veiled for me. Are men really a threat to women in the outside world, or is the sickness a metaphor? Or is it just that Grace, Lia, and Sky's parents are incredibly manipulative and abusive (physicallyand psychologically)? Although some things become clear(er) by the end of the book, much is left in obscurity. ( )
  mzonderm | Nov 6, 2018 |
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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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