> Skip to content

Book clubs  •  31 July 2018

 

The Water Cure book club notes

An eerie, dreamlike novel about love, violence and survival at any cost. Perfect for book club.

Imagine a world very close to our own: where women are not safe in their bodies, where desperate measures are required to raise a daughter. This is the story of Grace, Lia and Sky, kept apart from the world for their own good and taught the terrible things that every woman must learn about love. And it is the story of the men who come to find them – three strangers washed up by the sea, their gazes hungry and insistent, trailing desire and destruction in their wake. 
 

Discussion points and questions:
 

  • Grace, Lia and Sky spent their childhood undergoing the strange therapies invented by Mother and King, and yet their parents never let them complete the final therapy: the water cure itself. Why do you think Mother and King invented these rituals in the first place? And why do they not want their daughters to take the final cure?
  • The damaged women arrive on the island visibly unwell, weakened and desperate. But it’s never clear what has made them sick. What do you think is really going on in the outside world?
  • The sisters in the novel have all been raised by the same parents, in the same close-confined world and according to the same rules, and yet they turn out so different from each other. Why is this?
  • King is determined to manage his daughters’ feelings – apparently trying to flatten out their emotions entirely. Why would he want to do that?
  • When the men arrive on the island, Llew gravitates toward Lia very quickly. What is motivating him to pursue her?
  • The Water Cure examines the overlaps between love and violence in many kinds of relationships, both familial and romantic. Do you think it’s possible to love someone and to hurt them? Do any of the characters in the book truly love each other?
  • The novel ends on an ambiguous note – the sisters are on the move, in the middle of an escape attempt, their future uncertain. What do you think happens to them?
  • In their parting words to us, the sisters describe themselves as ‘new and shining women’. What does this mean? Did they benefit from their upbringing in the end? And does the end justify the means?

The Water Cure Sophie Mackintosh

A dreamlike and compulsive feminist dystopia for the #metoo generation

Buy now
Buy now

More features

See all
Book clubs
The Last Migration book club notes

Gather your book club and find out why everyone is talking about The Last Migration.

Book clubs
The Spill book club notes

Explore the cycles of love, loss and regret, that can follow a family through the years, with your reading group.

Article
Classic of the Month: Little Women

This November we revisited Louisa May Alcott’s towering work of American fiction.

Q&A
Richard Flanagan Q&A

The Booker Prize winning author answers our questions about his strangely beautiful story about hope and love and orange-bellied parrots: The Living Sea of Waking Dreams.

Article
Read between the lies

In Eley Williams’ The Liar’s Dictionary, we’re forced to interrogate the very foundations of ‘truth’.

Article
An ode to wild places and creatures

Charlotte McConaghy reveals how a quest to write about the natural world ultimately led to a climate change story.

News
New Richard Flanagan novel this October

We’re delighted to announce the publication of Richard Flanagan’s new novel, The Living Sea of Waking Dreams, in October 2020.

Q&A
Imbi Neeme Q&A

The 2019 Penguin Literary Prize winner on her inspiration, writing process and club sandwiches.

Article
Classic of the month: Tales of the Unexpected

In June we mined the depths of the human psyche via Roald Dahl’s 1979 classic short story collection.

Article
The Adversary playlist

Ronnie Scott shares a playlist to accompany his stunning debut novel, The Adversary.

Q&A
Quick questions: Ronnie Scott

The Adversary author on inspiration and essential reading.

Article
Classic of the month: One Hundred Years of Solitude

In March we revisited Gabriel Garcia Márquez’s ageless 1967 masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Looking for more book club notes?

See all book club notes