I must admit that I was quite excited to actually read this novel. Attemp after attempt throughout the summer to read something (anything!) of substance, I managed to only read a few light books, some magazines and the odd bit of poetry. Even with the long days we have in Edmonton (often 17-19 hours of sunlight a day) my littles kept me so very busy. And each evening I fell into bed with complete exhaustion. My daydreams of lounging in the backyard, reading novel after novel and leisurely sipping lemonade while my little darlings played quietly together (?!?) went quickly to the wayside after daily demands of going to the spray park, another popsicle, help with the bubble machine, identifying each and every insect met and breaking up sisterly spats every 10 minutes. Luckily my parents offered me and my hubs a weeks vacation from the girls and it was pretty blissful.
After a few false starts, I finally got to indulge in Paula Hawkins' sophomore novel, Into the Water and was fairly impressed.
I will admit that when going into this book, I had high hopes that Hawkins' would follow up her debut novel, The Girl on the Train with another fast paced psychological mind eff. And you know what, I was satisfied with the story overall. I will be excited for her third offering, should there be one. Paula Hawkins can write a page turner.
This book is interesting. It's interesting because despite loathing each character that's introduced, I kept wanting more. To be in Beckford sleuthing amongst its residents, to stand on the cliffs of the drowning pool and know of it's secrets and did Nel in fact, jump or fall to her death. I think it says something of the strength of Hawkins storytelling if a reader can literally not stand the subjects of the story yet continues to read about them.
There are some challenges here and I can understand why some others gave the book a pass when first starting out. In a word it's confusing. There are an astounding amount of narrators in Into the Water, 11 in fact. I kept getting lost in who was who to whom, specifically Patrick/Sean/Helen until I finally made a note to keep myself on track. With each character having a rather short introduction, it reminded me of meeting people at a business function where you might be networking and trying your best to remember 'Tony' from GHW Accounting firm and 'Ben' from Custom House marketing. You know recalling them later is going to come in handy but when the card passing is fast and furious you often tend to lose the details and mix things up. When I finally managed to know each character and their meaning to the novel, the build up started happening.
The story opens up with the death of Nel Abbott in a part of the town Beckford's river called the Drowning Pool. A place where women, troublesome women, have drowned or drowned themselves for the past century and longer. There are some that believe that the death was a suicide and others who clearly don't believe that theory. Nel herself was someone who swam in the river's waters each day and was near done writing a history of it's murky and horrific past. As each narrator speculates the why and the how of it all, you begin to piece together Nel's history in the town and her relationships. You begin to understand Lena and the role she plays along with understanding some of the previous deaths in the Drowning Pool. Without giving away too much, it was hard to anticipate the ending, but I was left satisfied.