My book review of 'Water' by John Boyne

by John Boyne
by John Boyne

Another powerful, thought-provoking and creative read from John Boyne. This is the first of a quartet of novellas each taking the name of the four elements, and they'll be released every six months. 

The story begins with Vanessa changing her name to Willow.

She has left Dublin for a rented cottage on an island, seeking to escape her life to come to terms with all that has happened in the previous few months and years. In doing so, though, she comes to realise that she may have been complicit in what took place. 

Her husband was a swimming coach who has been convicted of abusing the young women in his charge. Did Vanessa really not know what was taking place? And how did she keep her family safe? 

Vanessa, or Willow, has to confront what she did and did not do, and whether she can ever make peace with herself.

This is a beautifully written, poignant and challenging read. Forthcoming books in the quartet will follow the lives of other minor characters in the book, telling their stories as they are confronted by abuse in their community. 

A difficult subject, sensitively handled, John Boyne is a fascinating writer. Read more about him in my article for 'Suffolk' magazine here

Date of this review: August 2023
Book publication date: 2nd November 2023