I passed this book by on the many shelves it was being promoted without giving it a second look. I tend to steer clear of follow-up books of authors who’s previous novel have flown off the shelf and propelled them to stardom. They often don’t live up to expectation. So when I received this as a birthday gift, I placed it on my bookcase thinking I’d read it at some point.
The cover kept calling to me every time I walked past, begging me to pick it up.
Having listened to Girl on the Train through Audible I could see why this book sparked the enormous reaction it did. How was Paula going to follow-up this amazing feat? Writing a best-selling novel which turned into a film must be amazing but also daunting. Having all of your following work held up and judged against this.
Into The Water
Inside the flap:
‘Julia, it’s me. I need you to call me back. Please, Julia. It’s important …’
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.
And most of all she’s afraid of the water, and the place they call the Drowning Pool . . .
So how did Paula Hawkins do?
As I hadn’t read a physical copy of Girl on the Train I was surprised to see the layout of Into The Water. Short chapters with interchanging narration, this made the novel easy to pick up and put down without feeling like you would lose your way. Having said that, the cast of narrators was large and there were a couple of times I had to check back to find out who the person speaking was in relation to the story. Some readers may find the constant switching hard to follow.
The story was well thought out, the different plots worked well together and were tied up at the end of the book. The historical reference to swimming witches is an area I wrote about during my first year at university. I find witches and witchcraft interesting and enjoyed how it was woven through this story.
The main protagonists are Jules and Lena, aunt and niece.
Jules’s return to a place that holds many dark memories is a compelling idea, especially as these are only hinted at when you start reading. Jules is always talking to Nel, the sister who has just been found dead in the drowning pool. Through this inner dialogue, we find out what these secrets are and why she had fallen out with her sister years before. I did feel that you didn’t find out enough about Jules as she was always talking about Nel, building her back story and character.
Lena, Nel’s daughter, is a typical teenager and I loved the portrayal of her. Moody, closed in and feisty, Lena thought her mum had left her and jumped. She didn’t want her aunt around, she couldn’t understand why Jules had turned her back on her mum all those years ago. Lena too has secrets, ones that are linked to another death in the drowning pool from earlier in the year. As the story unfolds, Lena’s character changes and becomes more open and vulnerable as we explore the secrets she is keeping.
There are many other characters and strands to this story, underage sex, suicide, abuse of power, dysfunctional families and grief. Each strand adds something not only to the main story but also to the setting of the piece.
The Northumberland village the story is set in really adds to the feel of the story. Although there aren’t masses of detail and description, you do get the feeling it is a quaint English village with its usual inhabitants. The river is the main draw in this story, from the drownings to the day-to-day lives played out in the pages, everything relates to the water.
I didn’t place too much on this book.Can you imagine how hard it must be to write a second novel on the coat tails of a best seller and although this is nowhere in the same league as Girl on the Train, it is a great read.
The setting and story worked well and reminded me of Ruth Rendell and Midsummer Murders, (Paula refers to this in the book) a comfortable read with enough unknowns to keep you turning the pages.
One area I wish as a reader had been developed more was Jules more recent back story and what happened to their father. We are told their mother died of cancer but there was never any mention of what happened to their Dad? Jules’s character also never really elaborated on what she is like know. It is hinted at through little details and observations from other characters but I would have liked a bit more.
Definitely not Girl on the Train but still an engaging read that had me turning the pages.
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Doubleday; 01 edition (2 May 2017)