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Book Review: "Water" by John Boyne

5/5 - another great novel by one of this century's best writers...

By Annie KapurPublished 3 months ago • 4 min read
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From: The Margate Bookshop

John Boyne is one of this century's most versatile authors and has amassed quite a readership over the last decade with some really great novels. I have read many of them, including but not limited to: A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom, The House of Special Purpose, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, The Heart's Invisible Furies, A Ladder to the Sky, The Absolutist, All the Broken Places, A History of Loneliness, Echo Chamber and The Congress of Rough Riders. I do not think I have ever actually read a John Boyne novel I did not like.

Some of them waver in flavour and others are probably more experimental than their predecessors, but if one thing is for sure, John Boyne's writing is always thorough, dramatic and brilliant. My personal favourites being A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom as it reminded me of one of my all-time favourite novels (Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell) and Echo Chamber because it was the best dark comedy of errors I had read in a long, long time.

Vanessa Carvin changes her name to Willow Hale and moves to an isolated island and lives in a downtrodden cottage whilst she shaves her hair and reluctantly socialises with the population who look at her with alarm and concern. She becomes a local celebrity for being new and unaccounted for and, though she tries to hide her former self, she can feel it seeping through. She has ran away from her family and her former life, but how complicit was she in the events that happened prior to her move and should to quiet people of this small island fear the new identity Vanessa Carvin has created for herself?

From: Amazon

John Boyne writes a dark and dramatic novel which drip-feeds information to the reader as words such as 'dead daughter' are thrown around with 'husband in jail'. The reader not only wants to find out who Vanessa Carvin really was, but they want to find out 'why' she was that person too. Everything needs to add up.

Vanessa Carvin, we find out, was a 'real housewife' sort of person. Her life revolved around making sure her husband was happy whilst he did next to nothing for his wife and children. When she gives birth to two daughters and no sons, he becomes distant and angry like a spoilt toddler as she works hard to keep her daughters doing well despite their father not liking them all that much. But it gets much worse than that. The story about the swimming pool which Vanessa's husband goes to himself and is not very happy that she wants to attend has whispers of something going down. As Vanessa's daughter, Emma, tries to communicate with her mother there is definitely something in the way. As the story begins to unfold, we see the true dreadful natures of characters unfold. There is no smoke without fire, yes, but this is a burning forest - the reader can see it from a mile away and yet, they do not want to.

From: Amazon

John Boyne's writing is terrific. He finds the voice within the voice, the flashback voice is clearly different to the woman living on the island and there are many reasons as to why. There is a defiance in the flashback voice in which Vanessa still does not want to believe what actually happened and as we take this journey with her, we both realise that she honestly has no choice. John Boyne lets us make this journey carefully, slowly and with a great amount of tension which goes from simple whispers to a full blown investigation by the police. It's an act of disbelief that the readers share because we know without knowing - then we are proven right about our instincts. It is deafening in volume as the suspicions of the reader become louder and louder.

John Boyne is a fantastic author and this novel is really a great addition to his bibliography. Packed full of tension and suspcion, it fits in perfectly with his perfection of familial drama. I am looking forward to my next John Boyne novel and I might just read another sooner than expected. This was brilliant and I recommend it to absolutely everyone no matter your preferences for reading.

literature
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About the Creator

Annie Kapur

188K+ Reads on Vocal.

English Lecturer.

Film and Writing (M.A)

đź“ŤBirmingham, UK

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