Thursday, 31 March 2011

The Water Children by Anne Berry

Four lives. Four defining moments which will bring them together.
Owen Abingdon is haunted by nightmares of the Merfolk. He believes they have stolen his little sister who vanished while he was meant to be minding her on the beach, but he was only a child himself. Is it fair for his mother to blame him?
Catherine Hoyle's perfect Christmas with her cousin from America was blighted when they went skating on thin ice and Rosalyn nearly died. Somehow, instead of being praised for raising the alarm, Catherine gets blamed.
Sean Madigan grew up on a farm in Ireland. Learning to swim in the Shannon was his way of escaping the bitter poverty of his childhood, but it also incurred his father's wrath. He flees to England, but his heart belongs to the Shannon and her pulling power is evernear…
Unlike the other three, Naomi Seddon didn't fear the sea. She'd been orphaned and placed in a children's home in Sheffield and cruelly abused. The sea offered her a way out and she revelled in its cruel power.
The "water children" meet in London in the searing hot summer of 1976 and Naomi uses her siren's charm to lure Owen,Catherine and Sean into her tangled web of sexual charm and dangerous passion. A holiday in the Tuscan mountains with a flooded reservoir and its legend of the beautiful Teodora who drowned there brings this emotional drama to a powerful climax. Will the power of family, love and redemption finally help the water children conquer their fears and triumph over their childhood traumas? 

I read Anne Berry's first novel The Hungry Ghosts a year ago and really enjoyed it, so was delighted to get a pre-publication of The Water Children via the Amazon Vine programme.

'The Water Children' is not a quick read, nor is it, at times, an easy read. It is, however, a compelling and absorbing story that requires much concentration and raises a lot of questions.
A story of how one incident from childhood can shape the rest of a person's life, their character and their destiny.

Catherine, Owen, Sean and Naomi all have a strange relationship with water and this is what connects them in later years.

Catherine and Owen are both aware of how water has the power to destruct; one of them almost drowning in an icy lake, the other feeling responsible for the death of someone else by drowning.
Sean and Naomi do not fear water, but are still obsessed by it. Sean taught himself to swim in the River Shannon and Naomi has created an alternative watery life for herself that cancels out her terrible childhood spent in a children's home.

As adults, their lives become entangled, with Naomi being the main dangerous and alluring link.
This is not a plot-driven story, it unfolds slowly and gently, with each character being built up so that the reader can understand their reasonings and their behaviours. Except for Naomi who starts out as a mystery, with flashes of her past life teasingly inserted into the plot in small snippets.

This is Anne Berry's second novel and I enjoyed it very much, maybe not quite as much as her first book; The Hungry Ghosts which I loved, but it is still a fascinating and compelling read. 

Anne Berry was born in London in 1956, then spent much of her infancy in Aden, before moving on to Hong Kong at the age of six, where she was educated, first at Little Peak School, then Big Peak School, finally at the Island School, where she completed her A levels. 

She worked for a short period as a journalist for the South China Morning Post, before returning to Britain. After completing a three-year acting course at the Guildford School of Acting, and attaining LAMDA diplomas with honours in acting, teaching and speech therapy, she embarked on a career in theatre. She played pantomime to Shakespeare, and everything in between, shuttling around regional theatres. Most memorable were seasons spent at Theatre Clwyd Wales, Theatre Royal Windsor and Regents Park Open Air Theatre. 

Waylaid by love and marriage, Anne and her husband settled in Surrey with their four children. In 1992 they moved to their present home in the village of Bookham. Here Anne founded a small drama school, running it for over ten years. Throughout this period she wrote over thirty plays, performed by the pupils of the school. 

Anne's first love is writing, and it is now her full-time occupation. She remembers loving nothing so well as being given an imaginative composition for English homework at Peak School in Hong Kong. Coming a close second is theatre, with an unbridled passion for Shakespeare. She is an art lover, with Vermeer and Caravaggio being particular favourites. Anne is also a keen swimmer and walker. She has had undiminished support from her family in her writing career.


  1. Oh this sounds an interesting one! Added to the wishlist ... :)

  2. It's an engrossing read - thanks for popping by!