Originally published: 31 May 2018
Author: Sophie Mackintosh
Published by: Hamish Hamilton
Set in: An island of unknown whereabouts
Page count: 240
Reading dates: 30-31 May 2018
Star Rating: 4/5
The Water Cure tells the story of 3 sisters, Grace, Lia & Sky who live on a remote island alone with their parents. Their parents took them from the mainland because the world has become toxic to women and men are dangerous to them. They endure cruel therapies which are supposed to keep them safe – sometimes they are sewn in fainting sacks and put in a hot room until they pass out. Sometimes they play the drowning game where their dresses are weighted and they must see how long they can stay under the water.
Then one-day King, their father disappears and not long after 2 men and a boy turn up on the beach and ingrain themselves into the lives of the women.
This is quite a short book and is told primarily from the viewpoint of Lia, the middle sister, although we sometimes also hear from Grace. The writing is stunning and drew me in immediately. Its atmospheric and strange and it’s clear that something is not quite right with the way the girls are living. We find out quite soon on that Grace is pregnant yet has seen no men except King but no one seems alarmed or disgusted by this.
We never really find out for sure what is happening, if the girls were told the truth about their safety, if the mainland is indeed toxic or if their parents removed them from life with others for some other purpose. I like that we aren’t given all the answers and we can draw our own conclusions. An impressive debut from Sophie Mackintosh.
Thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me a copy.
About the author:
SOPHIE MACKINTOSH won the 2016 White Review Short Story Prize and the 2016 Virago/Stylist Short Story competition, and has been published in Granta magazine and Tank magazine, among others. Click here to read an interview with her https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/may/24/sophie-mackintosh-the-water-cure-interview