BOOK REVIEW: The Water Garden by Louise Soraya Black
First things first, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Muswell Press for sending me an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.
Louise Soraya Black’s second novel, The Water Garden, was not at all what I was hoping for, but I enjoyed it despite my wildly inaccurate expectations. Following a mother of two called Sarah as she moves back to the village where she grew up, the reader watches as she begins developing illicit feelings towards a teenager called Finn. Meanwhile, Louise Soraya Black reveals more about Sarah’s family history and why she might be feeling inexplicably drawn to this mysterious stranger.
I was primarily interested in The Water Garden because of the relationship between Sarah and Finn, so I found myself pleasantly surprised to discover that this novel is about far more than the relationship between an older woman and a younger man. This is a multi-generational story, following Sarah’s grandmother Maggie as she meets the man who becomes her husband, with chapters following the perspectives of Sarah’s mother and aunt, as well as exploring Finn’s family history, too.
There were a lot of things I enjoyed about The Water Garden. Top of that list has to be the evocative descriptions of the English countryside, which perfectly painted the scenery as it shifted with the seasons. I also found Sarah’s ruminations on the meaning of motherhood – the loss of her career, the inescapable drudgery of the household chores – to be relatable, and I appreciated the fact that the negative aspects of motherhood were discussed as well as the positives. Louise Soraya Black also does a great job of focusing on the importance of family, and how your family’s past can come back to haunt you in unexpected ways. The idea of a family secret is not a new one, but the way that Black weaved the tales together gave the concept life, and it made for a fresh and interesting story looking at lies and betrayal from the viewpoints of everyone impacted.
That being said, I found myself thoroughly disappointed by the end of the story. It feels incomplete. I would have happily read another 100-200 pages to be able to get a more satisfactory conclusion. The story still has so much potential when the novel ends. I am desperate to know what happens next, not only in both Sarah and Finn’s lives but in the lives of her aunt, her husband and their children. That’s the sign of a brilliant storyteller – Black brings these characters to life so vibrantly that it’s impossible to leave them behind – but also makes me feel hesitant about picking up more of Black’s work in the future, as I’m a reader who prefers to have less loose ends left trailing at the end of a story.
As the book finishes with more of a whimper than a bang, I find myself feeling increasingly disappointed in it the longer I reflect upon it. While I was hooked at the beginning and absolutely devouring the pages as soon as I reached the halfway point, the lackluster conclusion has tainted my appreciation of the rest of the story. I’m still giving this novel three stars, but there were times when I thought I’d found a new favourite author so that is a much lower rating than I’d expected to give!
I talked about The Water Garden a bit more during my May mid-month wrap up, so if you’d like to hear more of my thoughts on this novel, feel free to view that video here.
Once again, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Muswell Press for sending me a copy of this novel. If you like family drama, secrets and a story with a beautiful setting, this is a novel which you should definitely pick up.
Thank you for checking out this review, and I’ll see you again soon,