Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute

Book: Water (December 2023) Athenaeum Book Club 2024

By John Boyne

December 11, 2023

The first thing Vanessa Carvin does when she arrives on the island is change her name.  To the locals, she is Willow Hale, a solitary outsider escaping Dublin to live a hermetic existence in a small cottage – not a notorious woman on the run from her past.

But scandals follow like hunting dogs.  And she has some questions of her own to answer.  If her ex-husband is really the monster everyone says he is, then how complicit was she in his crimes?

Escaping her old life might seem like a good idea, but the choices she has made through0ut her marriage have consequences.  Here, on the island, Vanessa must reflect on what she did – and did not do.  Only then can she discover whether she is worthy of finding any peace.

Like the best novelists, John Boyne shines a light in dark places and forces us to confront the many conflicting truths which contribute to the boundless complexity that is human nature.

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