Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Well by Catherine Chanter

Title: The Well
Author: Catherine Chanter
Read by: Nicola Barber
Simon & Schuster
Length: 12 hours and 57 minutes
Source: Review Digital Audio from Simon & Schuster – Thanks!

What would our future hold if rain suddenly stopped falling?  As our water supplies dwindled and crops stopped growing, what would happen to our world?  This is a question I ponder in my profession, but in The Well by Catherine Chanter, it is reality for Ruth and Mark Ardingly, a couple who live in England in the not too distant future.

After Mark is wrongfully accused and exonerated from a crime in London, he and his wife of twenty years, Ruth, buy a new place, The Well, in the country to make a fresh start.  They are happy being farmers in the country at first, until an inexplicable drought happens across England, but mysteriously does not affect The Well.  While they have plenty of water, green grass, and crops, others across England are starting to panic.  This panic leads to people wandering in bands across the land and to mysterious religious orders becoming prevalent.  When one such order moves to the well, Ruth finds herself swept up by the mysticism of the Daughters of the Rose. This causes her to obsess with the religion and emotionally leave her husband, troubled daughter Angie, and grandson Lucien behind.

When tragedy strikes at the Well, Ruth and Mark’s world is shattered.  After being incarcerated for a period of time, Ruth returns to The Well and tries to piece together what happened.  Who committed the murder and why?

I was intrigued by the premise of this novel.  I like how the social order declines rapidly with the lack of water as I imagine it would in the real world.  I also liked how everyone seems to turn on the Ardinglys for still having water and how that impacts their relationship.  I also really like a good mystery and enjoyed finding out what really happened in this case.

Nicola Barber was an excellent narrator who provided and unique voice and presence for each character. I enjoyed listening to this audiobook on my daily commute. 

The novel switched time frames from the newly returned Ruth trying to figure out caused the tragedy to the past Ruth recounting their lives at the well.  I thought this worked well to solve the mystery, although I did feel that the novel did drag a bit in the middle.  Once the action and plot picked up again, I was absorbed through the end.  I also liked that Ruth was not always a reliable narrator.  After you learn how she was swept up by the cult of the Rose, I started to wonder if anything she was saying was real.

Overall, if you are looking for a unique story with a good mystery, damaged characters, and very interesting premise, I highly recommend The Well.

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