The Water Children
Owen is haunted by nightmares of the Merfolk. He believes they have stolen his little sister who vanished while he was meant to be watching her on the beach, but he was only a child himself. Is it fair for his mother to have blamed him all these years?
Catherine’s perfect Christmas was ruined when she went skating on a frozen pond with her cousin and the other girl nearly died. Yet it is Catherine who, for the rest of her life, feels trapped under the ice.
Sean grew up on a farm in Ireland, the son of religious and superstitious people. Learning to swim in the River Shannon was his way of escaping the bitter poverty of his childhood, but communing with the river’s “spirits” incurred his father’s wrath. He flees to England to start a new life, but the Shannon’s pull is difficult to escape.
Naomi was orphaned and placed in a children’s home and cruelly abused. Swimming offered her an opportunity to cleanse, to escape, and she reveled in the ocean’s power. But Naomi has another secret, buried deep within her, and during one searing hot summer she will be the catalyst for the coming together—and tearing apart—of the water children.
Reading Group Guide
In Anne Berry’s deeply moving novel The Water Children, the childhood secrets of four individuals unfold in a series of evocative scenes and disturbed memories. For Naomi and Sean, water is a hypnotic, sexual, purifying source, whilst for Owen and Catherine it represents death and danger. When the four characters are brought together in London in the summer of 1976, their lives are irrevocably changed and they are forced to face their turbulent pasts. But will the water children reconcile with the ghosts that haunt them or are their memories too powerful to allow them to move on?
About Anne Berry
Anne Berry was born in London in 1956, moving on to Hong Kong at the age of six, where she was educated. She founded a small drama school, writing and directing more than thirty plays in ten years, and now lives in Surrey with her husband and four children. Her first novel, The Hungry Ghosts, was a finalist for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
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