> Skip to content

Article  •  13 May 2016


Watershed moments

Enter Watershed: Jane Abbott’s savage and apocalyptic vision of the future.

In this dark and compelling first novel, it is impossible to know who is friend or foe, hero or villain. Devoid of rain, the earth has shrunk to dust and salt, hemmed by a swollen sea. Survivors gather to re-establish order but it’s nothing like before.

It is Jeremiah’s world.

Excerpts of letters from Jeremiah’s grandmother are strewn throughout the novel, revealing details of the slide into this dystopian world. Here’s a selection of these snippets, just to set the mood…



There are so many stories, so many different versions of what happened, but I can tell you only what I know. Civilisation died by degrees. When the sea rose, it exceeded even the wildest predictions; what followed didn’t. It was as simple as that.


I’ve watched men die, who deserved to live, and men walk free, who should be dead. I’ve seen cruel things happen to kind people, and bad things done to good. And this is what I’ve learned: it wasn’t the meek who inherited the earth.


I suppose the big question is this: if our technology was advanced enough for us to explore deep space and cure the incurable, why couldn’t we just make more fresh water when we needed it? The answer is simple: because it was never ours to make. Perhaps there are some secrets only nature can know. I once read that the total volume of water in the world is constant; whatever its form (ice, water or cloud), wherever it is (land, sea or air), we can’t create it and we can’t make it disappear. All we can do is borrow and return, do what the Earth does and recycle, over and over. And after we’re gone, passed into a forgotten history, the water will remain.


If I think of all the great women of history (queens and presidents, scientists, poets, writers and musicians, women who fought alongside their partners and mothers who died to protect their children), I’m astounded that we were ever considered the weaker sex. Women aren’t weak. That’s just a fantasy, dreamed by men who’d have us believe it. Don’t ever be one of those men, Jeremiah.


Watershed Jane Abbott

Savage and apocalyptic, this is the new world.

Buy now
Buy now

More features

See all
The 2021 Booker Prize shortlist revealed

The shortlist for the 2021 Booker Prize has been announced, with four Penguin Random House novels named.

'Utterly broken': The Resilience Project co-founder’s powerful admission

Hugh van Cuylenburg was being interviewed on a national radio station when he surprised himself with an admission.

The song behind The What On Earth Institute of Wonder, by Lisa Nicol

Light-emitting Mushrooms and the High Priestess of Soul; The song behind The What On Earth Institute of Wonder.

Simple reading hacks for time-poor dads

Two authors — who are also dads — share their tips on how fathers can get a moment to themselves.

The four hidden health benefits of reading

Reading offers us entertainment and a quick escape from reality, but did you know about these other hidden health benefits?

The top books for dad this Father's Day

Show them you know them by picking a book that perfectly matches your dad.

QUIZ: What book best suits your dad for Father's Day

Take our quiz to discover which books match your dad's personality so you can buy the perfect Father's Day gift.

Five easy hacks to declutter your bookshelf

The top tips for sprucing your bookshelf during the annual spring clean.

The habit that can lift your mood in just six minutes

There is one act that will help lift your mood in just minutes as we prepare to enter the new spring season.

QUIZ: How well do you know the classics?

Celebrate the 75th anniversary of Penguin Classics with a quiz to test your knowledge!

Fart and Burp are Superstinkers for Book Week

Get Book Week ready with Zoë Foster Blake

Trending on BookTok: Fantasy Edition

The most popular fantasy books on TikTok right now.

Looking for more articles?

See all articles