“A gripping, sinister fable!” —Margaret Atwood, via Twitter
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR:
NPR • GLAMOUR • GOOD HOUSEKEEPING • LIT HUB • THRILLIST
King has tenderly staked out a territory for his wife and three daughters, Grace, Lia, and Sky. Here on his island, 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 King disappears and two men and a boy wash ashore, the sisters’ safe world begins to unravel. 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 are forced to confront the amorphous threat the strangers represent.
A haunting, riveting debut, The Water Cure is a fiercely poetic feminist revenge fantasy that’s a startling reflection of our time.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
For the three sisters sequestered on a mysterious island in The Water Cure, nothing is as it seems. Raised by parents who continually warn them of the threats lurking in the world “outside”—toxins, beasts, and most dangerous of all, men—Lia, Grace, and Sky stick close to home. But then, tragedy and male interlopers throw their carefully constructed reality into chaos. Debut novelist Sophie Mackintosh builds a fiercely tense and unsettling story with spare, airy prose and cleverly deployed real-world insights. If you’re yearning for a new twist on The Handmaid’s Tale, pick this up.
Mackintosh's intense, ambitious debut, longlisted for the Man Booker, evokes a feminist dystopia where three sisters live in isolation meant to protect them from a toxic world that has become particularly dangerous for women. At an unspecified time in the future, global warming and pollution have poisoned the planet, making men more violent and women vulnerable. One couple, King and Mother, choose to raise their three daughters surrounded by sea and barbwire; their only visitors are women seeking therapies like the water cure (near-drowning to fortify against toxins and fear). Mother teaches her daughters caustic 20-something Grace, touch-hungry teenage Lia, and their youngest, Sky to suppress emotions, love only each other, and prepare for the worst. Then King disappears, and two men and a boy wash ashore. Mother shows her daughters how to use a pistol before she too disappears. Grace, Lia, and Sky are left to fend for themselves as the men grow impatient, proprietary, and threatening. The sisters' impressionistic narratives, presented solo and in chorus, show Lia's self-mutilation in close-up while the world disorder is described indirectly through its aftereffects. Mackintosh's gripping novel is vicious in its depiction of victimhood, vibrant when victims transform into warriors, and full of outrage at patriarchal power, environmental devastation, and the dehumanization of women.
Although this may not be my favorite read I have to admit I enjoyed it. I was brought back again and again to see what was happening.
The Water Cure
There’s a ripple in every story. Hope and pain, sadness and broken glints of joy that if seen in just the right light are beautiful enough to make everything else worth it.
Love can be tragic, toxic, a cure for wounds, or the balm that takes away the sting and sometimes all at the same time. With complex relationships and words knitted so perfectly they slide across neurons this books digs to the deep marrow and tethers you to every woman on the deep cellular level that binds us.
It is a testament to strength, connections deeper than blood, and the stories and people who try to shape us into forms.
With a trigger warning for self harm —this book is more than worth a read.
Bought on a whim and so glad I did. Read if you like Margaret Atwood. This story was creepy and vague and lovely in all the best ways. Will read it again!