Why I enjoyed Paula Hawkins’ new book Into the Water @PaulaHWrites #IntoTheWater

I’ve just read Into the Water and I was not disappointed!

Firstly, I was a big fan of Girl on the Train (I have to admit when I was looking for the picture for this post, I was busy googling ‘Girl in the Water’ and couldn’t find the book cover – missed opportunity or deliberate choice to avoid the girl theme?) and so I was really excited to read Paula Hawkins’ new psychological thriller.  We looked at Girl on the Train for part of my Masters and lots of my colleagues weren’t that keen – they thought the representations of women were weak and overall it just didn’t score big with them.  I freely admit that I’m a much simpler reader – I don’t tend to ask myself what a particular text says about women or power or … well anything beyond, is this a good story and am I enjoying it?  And the answer to both of those is definitely a resounding yes for Into the Water (Ha! Nearly slipped up again with the Girl in the Water thing!)

Characterisation

Every single one of the characters is fallible and every single one of them bears some guilt for the events of the novel.  It’s a fascinating premise and I think really accurate to real life – it’s often a whole heap of actions, a whole host of missed chances and good intentions that lead to a result and we really see this explored here.  Your sympathies change throughout the story as well – Hawkins’ I think is expert at subverting your expectations and so the characters you start off empathising with quickly fall beside the way.  Until we’re left with the fact of the matter that we’re all responsible for each other – now I’ve got my thinky head on that’s a nice link to An Inspector Calls – every action, every encounter counts and everyone could have changed the events of that story.  I like that.

Imagery of the Water

This was the other thing I really loved about the novel was the constant repeating motif of water.  Rivers, lakes, puddles, ponds, mists, people dripping, water seeping – this story had this amazing location at its heart, The Drowning Pool and it really permeates every single scene in the novel.  It’s a nice contrast as well, setting wise, to the urban landscape of Girl on The Train – both are instantly familiar to me – as far as I know (and feel free to correct me!) these aren’t set in specific locations, but are fictional settings – you’ll know from my earlier blog post on setting that this is something I’d been pondering – and it’s intriguing for me because here Hawkins has a fictional setting that is so entirely known to me.  I’ve been here.  Just like I’ve been on the Train.  Hehe, I’ve been the Girl on the Train (without the alcoholism and witnessing murder!).  I think part of the reason for this is the vivid imagery created in the novel particularly of the water.  It’s like the characters in the novel are drawn to the water and so to is the reader – it’s as inescapable for us as it is for the people in the novel.

I think I was also drawn to this as I’ve not long since read Reginald Hill’s An April Shroud which is also linked to the water as flooding created almost a locked room mystery – there’s something endlessly appealing, in the sense it pulls you in, and mysterious about the water.  You can never be sure just how deep it goes!

So that’s just a couple of the reasons I liked this great, entertaining novel – have you read it?  What did you think?

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