The Water Cure by Sophie MackintoshThe Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

The Water Cure

bySophie Mackintosh

Paperback | January 8, 2019

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"A gripping, sinister fable!"--Margaret Atwood, via Twitter



The Handmaid's Tale meets The Virgin Suicides in this dystopic feminist revenge fantasy about three sisters on an isolated island, raised to fear men

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.

When their father, the only man they have ever seen, disappears, they retreat further inward until the day two strange men and a boy wash ashore. Over the span of one blisteringly hot week, a psychological cat-and-mouse game plays out. Sexual tensions and sibling rivalries flare as the sisters confront the amorphous threat the strangers represent. Can they survive the men?

A haunting, riveting debut about our capacity for violence and the potency of female desire, The Water Cure both devastates and astonishes as it reflects our own world back at us.
SOPHIE MACKINTOSH won the 2016 White Review Short Story Prize and the 2016 Virago / Stylist Short Story competition. She has been published in Granta magazine and Tank magazine among others. The Water Cure is her first novel.
Title:The Water CureFormat:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 8.24 × 5.75 × 0.89 inPublished:January 8, 2019Publisher:Penguin CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0735235341

ISBN - 13:9780735235342

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Read from the Book

ONCE WE HAD a father, but our father dies without us noticing. It’s wrong to say that we don’t notice. We are just absorbed in ourselves, that afternoon when he dies. Unseasonable heat. We squabble, as usual. Mother comes out on the terrace and puts a stop to it by raising her hand, a swift motion against the sky. Then we spend some time lying down with lengths of muslin over our faces, trying not to scream, and so he dies with none of us women bearing witness, none of us accompanying him. It is possible we drove him away, that the energy escaped our bodies despite our attempts to stifle it and became a smog clinging around the house, the forest, the beach. That was where we last saw him. He put a towel on the ground and lay down parallel to the sea, flat on the sand. He was resting, letting sweat gather along his top lip, his bare head. The interrogation begins at dinner when he fails to turn up. Mother pushes the food and plates from the table in her agitation, one sweep of the arm, and we search the endless rooms of the house. He is not in the kitchen, soaking fish in a tub of brine, or pulling up withered potatoes outside, inspecting the soil. He is not on the terrace at the top of the house, surveying the still surface of the pool three floors below, and he is certainly not in the pool itself, for the sound of his splashing is always violent enough to carry. He is not in the lounge, nor the ballroom, the piano untouched, the velvet curtains heavy with undisturbed dust. Moving up the staircase again, a spine through the centre of the house, we check our rooms individually, our bathrooms, though we know he will not be there. From our scattered formation we come together to search the garden, search deeper, sticking long branches into the pond’s green murk. Eventually we are out on the beach and we realize one of the boats has gone too—a furrow in the sand where it has been pushed out. For a moment we think he has gone for supplies, but then we remember he was not wearing the protective white suit, we did not do the leaving ceremony, and we look towards the rounded glow of the horizon, the air peach-ripe with toxicity. And Mother falls to her knees. Our father had a big and difficult body. When he sat down, his swimming shorts rode up and exposed the whiteness of his thigh where it was usually covered. If you killed him, it would be like pushing over a sack of meat. It would require someone much stronger than us. The father shape he leaves behind quickly becomes a hollow that we can put our grief into, which is an improvement in a way.

Editorial Reviews

A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF 2019 BY ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, VOGUE, WASHINGTON POST, HUFFINGTON POST, CBC, VULTURE, LITHUB, REFINERY29 and moreFeatured in Oprah Magazine's "10 TITLES TO PICK UP NOW"Longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize for Fiction"Ingenious and incendiary."—THE NEW YORKER“Sensational…Mackintosh’s taut novel turns a keen, unsparing eye on violence, patriarchy, and desire.”—ESQUIRE (25 Most Anticipated Books of 2019)“Eerily beautiful, this strange, unsettling novel creeps up and grabs hold of you.”—PAULA HAWKINS, New York Times bestselling author of GIRL ON THE TRAIN"It blew my mind. It is beautiful, menacing, and efficient as a shark cutting through water at night."—CLAUDIA DEY, author of Heartbreaker"A luminous book. I devoured it whole."-HEIDI SOPINKA, author of The Dictionary of Animal Languages“An extraordinary otherworldly debut… [Mackintosh] is writing the way that Sofia Coppola would shoot the end of the world: Everything is luminous.”—THE GUARDIAN “[A] chilling, beautifully written novel…the tautness and tension of the writing are staggering.”—Judges Panel Citation, the MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2018“Mackintosh’s novel follows in the footsteps of The Handmaid’s Tale…but this debut has its own alluring style, which has prompted comparisons to The Virgin Suicides for its gauzy, heady sexuality; lacy, precise prose; and the luminous sisters at its core.”—VOGUE  “Mackintosh’s entry [into feminist dystopian fiction] is among the best, not least because it gets to the root of the genre by dissecting a warped utopia…Three men arrive on the island, and twists ensue — not cheap pyrotechnics but reversals of moral structure, revelations that demonstrate why the subtlest fiction is often the most powerful.”—VULTURE"Sumptuous."—THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITORS' CHOICE"Sophie Mackintosh casts an exquisite, irresistible spell in her thrilling debut. Ablaze with beauty, desire, and dread, The Water Cure is a shattering look at patriarchal control and how far three sisters will go to free themselves from it".—LENI ZUMAS, author of RED CLOCKS“At once dreamy and disturbing, The Water Cure is a gripping work, a dizzying labyrinth of conflicting realities.”—HELEN PHILIPS, author of THE BEAUTIFUL BUREAUCRAT"Creepy and sexy in equal measure, The Water Cure is a hypnotic portrait of three young women waking up to the world, desire, and the power of their bodies."—THE INDEPENDENT"I loved this book. It rushes you through to the end on a tide of tension and closely held panic. Eerie, beautiful, electric."—DAISY JOHNSON, AUTHOR OF EVERYTHING UNDER AND FEN “ If you're looking for a talented new writer's to take on the anger, anxiety, and trauma that comes from dealing our reality, in a surreal package, look no further.”­—THRILLIST (All The Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2019)