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Publisher's Summary

From the winner of the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, a brilliantly haunting and suspenseful debut set in modern-day Britain where water is running out everywhere except at The Well - the farm of one seemingly ordinary family whose mysterious good fortune leads to suspicion, chaos, and ultimately a shocking act of violence.

Ruth Ardingly has just been released from prison to serve out a sentence of house arrest for arson and suspected murder at her farm, The Well. Beyond its borders, some people whisper she is a witch; others a messiah. For as soon as Ruth returns to The Well, rain begins to fall on the farm. And it has not rained anywhere else in the country in over three years.

Ruth and her husband, Mark, had moved years before from London to this ancient idyll in the hopes of starting their lives over. But then the drought began, and as the surrounding land dried up and died, and The Well grew lush and full of life, they came to see their fortune would come at a price. From the envy of their neighbors to the mandates of the government, from the fanaticism of a religious order called the Sisters of the Rose to the everyday difficulties of staying close as husband and wife, mother and child - all these forces led to a horrifying crime: the death of their seven-year-old grandson, drowned with cruel irony in one of the few ponds left in the countryside.

Now back at The Well, Ruth must piece together the tragedy that shattered her marriage, her family, and her dream. For she believes her grandson's death was no accident, and that the murderer is among the people she trusted most. Alone except for her guards on a tiny green jewel in a world rapidly turning to dust, Ruth begins to confront her worst fears and learns what really happened in the dark heart of The Well.

©2015 Catherine Lloyd (P)2015 Simon & Schuster

What members say

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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F this book!

I was pretty into the description of the book and was expecting something like Children of Men and in some ways the tone and mood are similar; a bleak near future where environmental catastrophe is creating civil unrest.

However, I am SICK to death of books where the protagonist (usually female) is supposedly very intelligent but lacks anything like the ability to recognize what's going on around them.

I understand characters are flawed and making mistakes is part of what creates tension in a narrative but seriously, everything this character does defies logic. She doesn't just get everything wrong, she seems completely baffled by life. She says variations of, "I don't know," or "I don't understand," so many times that eventually, as a reader, I found myself thinking "No, duh!"

Very disappointing. Instead of listening to this book, watch Top of the Lake on Netflix.

15 of 18 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant, poetic, tragic. Life-affirming indomitable spirits

This book so unexpected. The rare kind of book that haunts. So human. So tragic. Lush in its validation of life, even when the spirit becomes dry, brittle, and oh so frail.Yet from the well, hope springs eternal.

The story is so very original. Nuanced. The prose often times poetic.

The performance is nothing short of stunning. Nicola breathes life into these beautiful words.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Kept me on my toes!

Psychological thriller? Yes Exploring human relationships? yes. This book has these things rolled up with descriptions of the English Countryside and bungling governments. Totally interesting