In the last days before her death, Nel Abbott called her sister. Jules didn't pick up the phone, ignoring her plea for help. Now Nel is dead. They say she jumped. And Jules has been dragged back to the one place she hoped she had escaped for good, to care for the teenage girl her sister left behind. But Jules is afraid. So afraid. Of her long-buried memories, of the old Mill House, of knowing that Nel would never have jumped.
Into the Water (ITW going forward) by Paula Hawkins is a book about two women who have drowned in…the Drowning Pool. It is here, legend holds, that witches were drowned and countless women have committed suicide.
Early in ITW, Hawkins uses a compelling story-telling device. She tells the story in one character’s viewpoint, in the next chapter shows us the same events from another’s perspective, and then that character takes over the story until the next chapter. If this way of writing was sustained throughout, ITW would be spectacular! Unfortunately, this is not the case. Paula Hawkins, she of Girl on the Train fame, has written ITW from the point of view of ALL of the following:
Danielle ‘Nel’ Abbot (deceased) – via a manuscript of her unpublished book
Jules Abbot – sister to Nel Abbot (also called Julia often/confusingly)
Lena Abbot – daughter of Nel Abbot
Mark Henderson – teacher
Erin Morgan – inspector
Nickie Sage – charleton or medium
Helen Townsend – wife of Sean
Patrick Townsend – father of Sean
Sean Townsend – inspector
Josh Whittaker – brother to Katie
Louise Whittaker – mother of Katie
Lauren, Libby and Katie (deceased) – drowned women
(Feel free to print this list and use it while reading the book. It may be the only way you can remember everyone and how they relate to the story. I found myself looking back to earlier chapters to figure out who was speaking well into the middle of the book. While compiling the above list, I had to refer back to the book to figure out the cast and how they related to each other – even after finishing the book!)
Hawkins would have better served her characters, and her readers, had she focused solely on Jules’ and Lena’s viewpoints and Nel Abbot’s manuscript.
Having just finished reading, I can tell you that I am truly, deeply disappointed with this ending. The only real twist in ITW was related to the reason behind the two sister’s bitter, long-lasting feud. After this first startling reveal, I expected sweeping revelation after sweeping revelation to close out the novel. Unfortunately, I was only to be let down by the resolution of the rest of the story lines – and no remaining shocks, surprises, or twists to hold my attention to the end.
What long-submerged secrets does the river hold? And what do those secrets mean for Lena, the young girl now left to the care of Nel’s sister, Jules, a stranger who left town years ago, vowing never to return?
Despite the descriptive writing, especially in the depiction of the town, the large cast of unlikable characters hampers the telling of the tale and by the time the plodding plot reaches its final reveal, readers may no longer care about it.
A well-paced thriller sure to keep readers turning the pages until its finale.
Suicide, eating disorders, statutory rape, domestic violence, a small-town attitude of violence toward women who buck social norms and its subsequent cover-ups... My only complaint would be that, at times, it felt like Hawkins was including too many issues at one time, which resulted in a more superficial viewpoint than the subject matter deserved.
What I loved most was the way memory was depicted: a fluid, often evolving, version of one's personal truth; a truth that has as many perspectives as people present in that memory.
I loved The Girl on the Train so really had high expectations for this book. This book however is completely different and is nothing like TGOTT. The book hasn't a lot to do with witches either although one character Nicki is a psychic and was my favourite.
The book is told from the point of view from most of the characters in the story. This I found quite different because normally its just one or two. I didn't feel confused by this at all and it was nice to hear from them all as the story unfolds.
The story was ok, for me just an average thriller with the reveal on the last few pages. It certainly didn't have the page turner of TGOTT but it did hold my interest. I think if I hadn't read TGOTT I may have enjoyed this book a little more. I had high hopes and was left slightly disappointed. I would recommend this book however if you like thrillers.
Ok as a quick read, but not gonna win any awards in my opinion.
* Why does Jules hate her sister Nel?
* Did Nel commit suicide or was she murdered?
* Are Nickie’s accounts of murder reliable or is she just a nut?
* Why did Katie, a 15-year-old girl who seemed to have everything going for her, commit a most unlikely suicide?
* Are Nel’s stories of all the women throughout history who have jumped or been thrown into the river fact or fiction?
* Why does Patrick maintain the cottage by the river? What went on at this site?
* What is Lena hiding that might give more insight to the reason Katie would commit suicide?
* Why does Helen have Nel’s bracelet? Does this mean she murdered Nel?
* And why has the river that runs through Beckford been the scene of the suicides or murders of so many women there? Why is it alluring?
These are only some of the mysteries going on in this book.
This complexity is good. But don’t expect INTO THE WATER to be like Paula Hawkins’ other novel, THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN. They’re not alike at all. That is not only in storyline. While I criticized THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, I also admitted that it is unputdownable at times. INTO THE WATER isn’t, ever.
Partly that is because most chapters of INTO THE WATER are first-person, some third-person, accounts, each by one of the characters in the story. While the book thus moves along, you may find, as I did, that this becomes an exercise in memorization. There are so many characters, each with his or her own viewpoint and mysteries, that I spent most of the book trying to keep them all straight and remember who did and said what. Many times I had to page back to previous chapters to remind myself.
INTO THE WATER is a good try. But, probably, readers who liked THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN will be disappointed in INTO THE WATER
Jules is returning to her hometown, not because she ever wanted to see the place again, but because her sister has died and her fifteen year old daughter Lena is alone. Nel died in the Drowning Pool - a bend in the river that has claimed the life of more than one woman in Beckford. (The prologue opens with the death of one of those other women.) The question is - did Nel jump or was she pushed? Her death follows on the heels of a teenager who also recently died in the Drowning Pool.
"Beckford is a place to get rid of troublesome women."
Into the Water is told from many, many different voices - there are actually 14 different points of view, which I admit I did find a bit confusing in the beginning, until I sorted them all out in my head. There are lots of unreliable narrators to choose from! The narrative also switches from present to past for the key players. We slowly find out what has happened in the past that may, no - does, have an impact on the present.
There are many secrets in this village as well. The reader slowly becomes privy to them as they are revealed by the salient characters. The choices for those with a reason to kill Nel are many. But why the teenager? There is a character included who claims she is a psychic and more. Her inclusion had me wondering if there would be a mythical element to the current day deaths. There are other mentions of smells and glimpses of someone there, but not, that added to that ethereal feeling.
"Some say the women left something of themselves in the water, some say it retains some of their power, for ever since then it has drawn to its shores the unlucky, the desperate, the unhappy, the lost. they come here to swim with their sisters.
I found I was not as drawn to lead character Jules as much as I was to some of the supporting players. She is emotionally wounded from her childhood in Beckford, but despite her past, I found it hard to connect with her. (There are many wounded souls in this village.) I did find myself quite drawn to Lena and old Nicky, the psychic. The water is a key character in the book as well - water imagery flows throughout the book.
...they never saw what the water really was, greenish-black and filled with living things and dying things."
The path to the final whodunit is clever. With so many characters with reason and motivation to kill, it's impossible to determine who the final whodunit might be. And I'm happy to say I was wrong - Hawkins includes a nice little twist at the end that negated my guess.
For this reader, Into the Water didn't quite reach the same level of suspense as The Girl on the Train, but I still found it to be a page-turning read, as I could not predict where the story was going to go. It's slower paced, but no less addicting. Add this one to your summer reading list.
This is quite a complex story involving many characters. The book goes back to 1679 during the Witchfinder Trials, where women suspected of being witches are thrown with bound hands into the water with the idea if they floated, they could be declared witches. But if they drowned, oh well, guess they weren’t witches after all. Legend has it that The Drowning Pool is haunted by one of these girls.
The author jumps back and forth between the story of the girl drowned for being suspected of witchhood to the present story of Nel’s drowning, the recent story of Katie’s drowning and also a woman who had died a couple of decades ago. I thought the author did a very good job of creating an eerie, haunting atmosphere and I enjoyed that part of the book. However, I never really got too involved in the mysteries of these drownings and felt the red herrings went into too many directions and became confusing. There were an overabundance of statements such as “after what I did” or “how can I bear this guilt”, which of course left you hanging not knowing what they did. But I can’t say that I ever really cared what they did or didn’t do or who did what to whom. Though I did enjoy parts of this book. I think it just went in too many directions.
It’s quite a different book from “The Girl on the Train”. It had great potential of being a good psychological character study but I can’t help but feel that the author was trying too hard. The stress of writing a follow up to her immensely popular first book must have been quite intense. Here’s hoping that her next one will pull together better as there’s no doubt that she’s a talented author.
While Into the Water did captivate my attention sufficiently to finish the book, I must admit that it suffered from several flaws: too many characters, too many shifts in time that were difficult to follow, and a lack of a consistent message or theme. It almost felt like Ms. Hawkins wavered in her decision as to what message to convey. Perhaps the most consistent theme is that women often end up being the ones that are punished for men's lack of inhibitions when it comes to lust and adultery. However, I felt that there were many other themes introduced that would have been interesting to explore--at least as secondary plots--but were never fully developed (such as the witch trial references).
Though four different narrators were used, I also found distinguishing between all but one of them difficult. Moreover, the one I could identify, suffered from an overly breathy delivery or audible breathing.
Nonetheless I did enjoy sleuthing who the villain(s) were. Moreover, this is a book that I found that left me in contemplation mode constantly trying to discern the angle or moral of the author's purpose for telling this story. In the end, I decided that perhaps the lack of direction may have been intentional--in order to allow the reader or listener to come to their own conclusions. This book therefore is certainly a good one for a book club discussion as it provides many different perspectives and possibilities that provide good fodder for discussion.
Source: Review copy provided for review purposes.
From The Book:
A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.
Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother's sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she'd never return.
This one was so much better than [The Girl on The Train]. The characters here were real and their emotions grabbed you from the pages of the book. You could liked them...you could grieved with them or rejoice with them...you actually wanted to get to know them better. The only down side that I saw was that it wasn't an easy book to read because of the sheer number of those same likable characters that sometimes spoke in the present and sometimes in the past and some just added their opinions leaving the reader to try to figure out who was talking and did it pertain to the past or present.
In this book, Jules returns home upon the death of her sister, Nel. Jules and Nel have been estranged for years. An incident in their teen years has created a deep resentment in Jules for her sister. Still, Jules has to go home for her sister's funeral and because her sister was the single mother of a teen aged girl.
Nel has drowned in The Drowning Pool, a place of local legend where supposedly witches and other "troublesome women" have been disposed of. Nel's is the second recent death in the pool, and there is some question as to whether Nel killed herself or was killed.
The story is told by a variety of characters with narration shifting in each chapter. This gives the same sort of confusion that Hawkins created in The Girl on the Train with her unreliable narrator. I found this much more appealing because I could not find a single character in her previous work that I cared about. In this work, although everyone is flawed in some way, they are each also sympathetic.
There are lots of twists and turns, red herrings, and surprises. It kept me reading late into the night. I would highly recommend it.
Into the Water seems to me a better novel than Girl. The only flaw was a confusing number of characters which took me quite a while to sort out with the help of several family trees. Once I had a clear picture of them—at about page 60 and yes, I did violate my rule of 50—the state of affairs became clear. She also provided a handy set of epilogues for the surviving main characters.
As the story begins, Nell Abbot, a single-mother has drowned in a river a short time after a teenager has done the same. Nell leaves behind her teenage daughter in the care of her sister, Julia “Jules” Abbott. A popular teen, Katie Whitaker preceded Nell in the river. The twists and turns had me guessing all the way to the end. A discerning reader needs to get a handle on the list of suspects as early as possible. Think three or four family trees.
Each chapter shares thoughts and ideas with the reader. In this instance, Jules, Nell’s Sister, thinks about her own death. Hawkins writes, “I pulled over to the side of the road and turned off the engine. I looked up. There were the trees and the stone steps, green with moss and treacherous after the rain. My entire body goosefleshed. I remembered this: freezing rain beating the tarmac, flashing blue lights vying with lightening to illuminate the river and the sky, clouds of breath in front of panicked faces, and a little boy, ghost-white and shaking, led up the steps to the road by a policewoman. She was clutching his hand and her eyes were wide and wild, her head twisting this way and that as she called out to someone. I can still feel what it felt like that night, the terror and the fascination. I can still hear your words in my head: What would it be like? Can you imagine? To watch your mother die?”
Another interesting character is Nickie. Some see her as a nuisance, the children as a witch. Hawkins writes, “Nickie had a flat above the grocery shop, just one room really, with a galley kitchen and a bathroom so tiny it barely warranted the name. Not much to speak of, not much to show for a whole life, but she had a comfortable armchair by the window that looked out on the town, and that’s where she sat and ate even slept sometimes, because she hardly slept at all these days, so there didn’t seem much point in going to bed: 16).
One good thing about some English mysteries is the lack of guns and shooting. I quickly found myself trying to untie some of those knots with nothing but the same clues, rumors, and innuendo the police and the family. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins has about as much suspense as anyone could hope for. 5 stars.
So was it any good?
Yes and no. There were several story arcs going on in this novel which was alright and easy to follow. I’d rather enjoyed reading most of them. I didn’t enjoy reading about Julia though. It’s not because I don’t sympathize with what she went through, it must have been horrible. I just didn’t really like her much as a character. There were moments where she was completely weak and useless. However, I’m glad of her outcome and of her development. Of all the characters; Lena and Julia developed the most.
In the beginning of the novel, I found it a little hard to follow at first. Each chapter is told in the point of view of another character and rotates all throughout the story. So you have to be aware of who’s who early in the story. There’s also flashbacks involved (those aren’t hard to follow though.)
I’d have to say, the character I enjoyed reading the most was Lena because of her fiery personality and her attitude (typical teenage angst but it was well done.) The rest of the characters were all right to read but don’t really produce enough of a presence to make such a huge impact on the book. Patrick, Mark, and Sean make your teeth grind though. The three of them being odious spineless bastages who need to get their due. Unfortunately...well...one of them gets their due. (Won’t spoil it any further.)
Plot wise, it’s a subtle slow moving mystery. The reader is kept guessing and although it may seem obvious as to who has done it, there’s more to just a whodunit. There’s a reasoning behind the deed that has taken place. There were few elements of some sort of supernatural characteristics in the plot but it’s nothing to be in awe about and it doesn’t really put any depth into the story or make the plot go further. It could be considered as just to fill in the blanks into the novel. Which I wasn’t too crazy about.
I ended up finishing it because it wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t the best I’ve read either. Would I recommend it? Not really. Worth the read? It’s all right. Some people may like this type of story some might not. (It has a feeling of a TV movie to it, in my opinion.)