The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

Monday 11 February 2019

"I have always been afraid of her ability to pull the rug out from underneath us, her capacity for cruelty and kindness in the same sentence, same action. I can see it in Grace too. It must be a prerequisite for being a mother, something that growing another person inside you does, heart and heartlessness, as though simplistic empathy has been scooped out and replaced with something more fundamental, something more likely to guarantee survival." — The Water Cure

The Guardian called The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh "an extraordinary otherworldly debut." Penguin Random House is promoting it as "The Handmaid's Tale meets The Virgin Suicides" (two of my favourite books) and "a dystopic feminist revenge fantasy about three sisters on an isolated island, raised to fear men." How could I not read The Water Cure? How could we not all read The Water Cure with all that is going on right now in the world?

In The Water Cure, "King has tenderly staked out a territory for his wife and three daughters: Grace, Lia, and Sky. He has laid 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 cultlike rituals and therapies they endure fortify them against the spreading toxicity of a degrading world."

Shortly after King disappears suddenly, two men and and a boy appear, challenging all Grace, Lia, and Sky have known about the world they've been guarded from. The result is a tense and unsettling book not only about how unsafe and inhospitable the world can be for women, but also, at its core, it's about womanhood, girlhood, and sisterhood set against Mackintosh's strange, carefully crafted world.


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