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The Waters

A Novel

by Bonnie Jo Campbell

The Waters by Bonnie Jo Campbell X
The Waters by Bonnie Jo Campbell
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There are currently 11 member reviews
for The Waters
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  • Lloyde N. (Olympia, WA)
    Rural Noir
    I took on reading this book as a challenge, as I did not understand what the term "Rural Noir" meant. Basically, it means "Southern Crime Fiction". So, I have read the Los Angeles Crime Noir fiction of James Elroy, which is difficult to read because of it's graphic portrayal of crime, but if you hang in there you will be scuffed a bit, but rewarded for your diligence of a story well told. This book has strong female characters, firstly in "Herself" the heroine of the story, and her three daughters and her granddaughter Donkey. There's lots to like here, but I would get bogged down in some of the detail, and where the book was headed. An excellent slow, but not fast read. Well worth your time, and your reading time will be rewarded with a strong story line, and delving into part of the culture and pace of a section of the United States many readers know little of.
  • Stephanie S. (Driftwood, TX)
    Wow! I loved this book!! If I didn't have dogs that needed walking, I might have finished the second half in one sitting. As in so many good books, the Island and the Waters (the swampland around the island) were important characters in the story. The author's descriptions of the setting were so beautiful and so complete that I felt them come alive.

    The women in the story reminded me of the women in Toni Morrison's 'Song of Solomon', strong, independent, and non-conforming. I was rooting for all of them, even when they were clearly in conflict with each other.

    I would recommend this book to everyone. Get ready for a beautiful world inhabited by tough, beautiful and complicated women!
  • Cheryl R. (Jeannette, PA)
    The Waters
    As I began to read, I didn't know if I'd be able to keep all the characters straight. But the story soon settled into a story of generations. A story of moms, daughters, and granddaughters. The tale of family joy, grief, and secrets unfolded with unexpected twists and turns. At first it seems like a story of women; but read closely. The story of the men of the town is woven in and gets stronger throughout the book. All the characters I thought I'd confuse came to life in this story of generations and relationships.
  • Debra F. (Cudjoe Key, FL)
    Beware The Waters
    A bit slow in the beginning. I really enjoyed the setting & the characters.

    It is set in the swampy area of Michigan. A healer of sorts & her granddaughter live in an old cottage, with a dog, donkeys and chickens. Donkey is more comfortable around the donkeys, which gave her her name, & the chickens than people. Hermine/Herself take care of the people with folk medicine & 'herbs'. So many things occur throughout the book & it takes a while for things to start to come together & make sense, but it is worth the wait. Part dark fairy tale, part coming of age & adventure.
  • Barbara O. (Red Bank, NJ)
    A treat for the senses!
    "The Waters" by Bonnie Jo Campbell starts out slow but gradually the reader finds themselves sucked into the lives of Hermine (Herself) Zook and her three daughters just like the swamp that surrounds their island.
    Although the geographic location is northern Michigan it feels more like the South. Dark and mysterious, filled with descriptions of the natural habitat, the island is another main character in this story. Although the book is set in modern times, it's female characters and the secrets revealed in the book are ageless. Set just outside the rural community of Nowhere, the mysterious "Herself" is a provider of natural ointments, tinctures and teas that serve the community's needs. The women of Nowhere are frequent seekers of these natural remedies but their menfolk and the local church community are not so approving despite their own secretive pursuit of Hermine's natural remedies.
    I loved all the characters, their personalities and their secrets. I could hear the wildlife, vividly picture the rich, muddy environment and smell the fertile soil. "The Waters" is a thoroughly enjoyable book.
  • Kay D. (Strongsville, OH)
    Intense Lyrical Read
    Well worth the read. The cover art depicts a lush, natural, overwhelming feel and truly represents how I feel about this book. A deep wander into a unique place. Strong female characters who also have their weaknesses. Male characters who swing from strong to weak and from evil to good. Add in snakes and you almost have a modern garden of Eden. Beautifully written. Tough subject matter at times on various fronts countered by strong emotional ties, community and family values from various perspectives. Small town, rural life enhanced by natural remedy medicine and mystery. At times a mashup of so may subjects the reader may need to pause and reflect before continuing. Not always an easy read but the blend of reality and fantasy are addictive. Would make a good book club read as there would be lots of discussion points.
  • Ilene M. (Longmont, CO)
    Slow grind
    Write what you know about. That advice seemed to be followed by the author of this book. Unfortunately, it did not appeal to me. The tale was too long and the characters not appealing to me. I am afraid of snakes and the fact that snakes play such an important role in the book was difficult for me to read. The divide among the townspeople is not dissimilar to the divide in our country today. Perhaps the author was trying to address that issue in this book. Unclear to me.
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