REVIEW: The Water Cure, Sophie Mackintosh

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

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.

Am I missing something here? I feel as though I am.
To be honest, more than a month after finishing this book, I still don’t know how I feel about The Water Cure. I don’t know if I fully understood what was going on; if I grasped the point Sophie Mackintosh was trying to make; or why this book ended up on the longlist for this year’s Man Booker Prize.
Hit me up if you know the answer to any of the above because I really would like to know.
From what I grasped of it, The Water Cure was incredibly abstract and odd — the writing style purposefully (accidentally? Who knows? Not me) kept the reader at a distance and the actions of the characters often made little to no sense. This sense of distance only added to the confusion that the novel created: the three sisters who make up the viewpoint of The Water Cure, have been isolated from the evils of men on the mainland and the only information they have is the little their father deigns to tell them. They take the knowledge blindly as the truth, both trusting him implicitly and not knowing any different.
Their dynamic (and the wider one of the travelling women and the ‘water cure’) felt almost cultish. And, added to how quick the mother, father and sisters’ are to turn to violence, I found The Water Cure to be more of a commentary on Munchausens-by-Proxy than the genre-defining feminist manifesto that I think Sophie Mackintosh was actually aiming for.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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