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Summary

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018 

Penguin presents the audiobook edition of The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh, read by Hannah Murray, Gemma Whelan and Morfydd Clark. 

Once upon a time, damaged women came here to be cured. We took them in, fed them glasses of our clean, good water, let them scream at the waves till their lips split like ripe fruit. Now no one is left but my sisters and me. King died a year ago, quite suddenly. Mother has vanished, no one knows where. And the safe compound they built around us, far away from the toxic world, has finally been breached.

Three men arrived last week, washed up by the sea, their gazes hungry and insistent. We remember now what our father taught us. 'If the men come to you, show yourself some mercy. Don't stick around and wait for them to put you out of your misery.'

©2018 Sophie Mackintosh (P)2018 Penguin Books Ltd

Critic reviews

"Immensely assured, calmly devastating. This is a gem of a novel and I was bowled over by it." (Katherine Angel, author of Unmastered)

"I loved this book. It rushes you through to the end on a tide of tension and closely held panic. Eerie, electric, beautiful." (Daisy Johnson, author of Fen)

"Creepy and delightful - it has a pinch of Shirley Jackson, a dash of chlorine, and an essence all of its own." (Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, author of Harmless Like You)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Extraordinary story

I can still hear the sea roaring in the background having finished the audio. Seldom have I felt swept away by the ethereal nature of a story (the last time was the Annihilation trilogy) and similarly I am still not sure what happened. was this story about the after effects of abuse, the fear of desire or about the power of patriarchy? Are the sisters three aspects of one girl or does the relationship between the girls transcend nature. I love this book and will buy it on kindle so I can ponder better and make notes. the author is a genius and one to follow throughout her career.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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intriguing

Beautifully narrated. Great story which really makes you think about the fragility of both sexes. I was completely hooked.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Bleak, depressing, with nothing original to say.

Please bear in mind that I write this as a staunch feminist, who has come across some pretty awful men in her time (and some wonderful ones, and lots and lots of in-between normal ones, y'know, because men are people and we're not one dimensional). This book is so anti-men. The book at some point says that all men want to kill women, even the ones who think they don't. I get that it's from the perspective of three isolated, abused girls, but still - it seems to be the authorial voice saying this, that this novel exposes the truth of relationships. The women are horrible, too - the author embraces some pretty boring cliches about women, as well. It's just an awful book with nothing to say. Men are horrible, women need to murder them and be sisters in solidarity, and escape, except we can't because men are bad and will hunt us all down. OK. Ugh.

It's a shame, though, as the author has a very intriguing style and I enjoyed that. I just hated what she had to say.

As for the narrators, the woman who narrated Lia's passages was great. The woman who narrated Grace's section was fine - not outstanding, but not objectionable. The woman who read the passages through all three women's perspective was really very bad - completely monotone and expressionless. It seems to be a thing with Audible recently - narrators so robotic that it's actually difficult to ascertain the meaning of what they're saying because it's so divorced from normal human speech patterns and intonation. Is Audible experimenting with machine narration? I find it hard to believe an actual human being can get a job reading this badly. I could honestly do a far better job myself.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • RT
  • 21-10-18

Fantastic

Absolutely loved it. Absorbing, original story perfectly narrated with an unexpected ending. I thoroughly recommend it.

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Menacing

A super debut. Haunting dystopian tale of 3 sisters living with parents on an island. They are made to do unconscionable things and live as if in a cult-style nightmare. No doubt, comparisons will be made to Atwood.

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Disturbing & Bleak

Disturbing and bleak, not a pleasant read. I can't say I really enjoyed this book, but it was an interesting model/illumination of patriarchy, well written with beautiful imagery - the sea was like a character in itself, the ultimate female landscape, and the natural world is stunningly and richly illustrated in all its fecundity, and outside the garden, the dangers of the forest, full of masculine imagery, are well portrayed.

The characterisation was well drawn, physical and strangely sensual/visceral.

It is a carefully constructed world that the reader is immersed in, but it's not one you would want to linger in.

It is an unsettling read that leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Whether the world really is toxic the reader will never know, maybe it's just a masculine metaphor. To be honest, I'm not sure it portrays women in a better light than men, though the illustrations and arguments are appealing on some level. I can get what the author is saying, but I'm not sure I'm that interested. It's not a subtle book, more like cracking a nut with a sledgehammer

Were the girls one girl? I'm not sure I cared enough to notice. The presentation, and use of different narrators was a little muddly. I'm not quite sure why there was a (brief) male narrator.

if you are interested in patriarchy and gender, there are far better books on the market than this one.

The end went on too long and lost poignancy - we didn't need the last scene trudging through the forest. The story finished at the scene before.

I wouldn't really recommend this book, unless you enjoyed post apocalyptic type reading with more style than substance.



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No starter

This book promises so much, yet delivers so little - not sure if it was due to listening via audio book, but it never goes anywhere or elaborates outside of the girls existence, which is exhausting and a little dull.