This book is described as a love triangle between a student, his mentor, and the mentor’s wife, but that’s not completely accurate. The writing is very Mishima (not that I’m any kind of expert), in that the descriptions are beautiful, the surroundings serene and delicate. And like many Japanese stories I’ve read, the violence erupts unexpectedly amid mundane dialogue. The behavior of the characters is confusing and often unpredictable, which made me re-read paragraphs to confirm what I understood to be happening. The writing evokes scenes of peacefulness and aching desperation, and the ending makes the entire book worthwhile.
Recommended for fans of Mishima or Murakami, or those who are looking to explore Japanese literature.
Many thanks to Knopf Doubleday and Netgalley for the copy in exchange for my review.
Alone on an island with their parents, three girls live a life of poverty and abuse. They are taught that men are toxic, and their family must help the sick women who come to the island recover from the violence inflicted on them by men. The girls are psychologically tortured, given “love tests” to prove how much they care for one another.
Early in the book their father dies, and soon after two men and a boy arrive on the island, claiming they were lost at sea. Things escalate when the girls are left alone with the men.
This story was unusual and disturbing. It reads like an allegory or a Greek myth, with a dystopian feel. There is an ethereal quality with undercurrents of constant violence. I would not recommend it for the sensitive reader, but I found the story riveting. The Water Cure is gritty and original, and not something I’m soon to forget.
Many thanks to Read it Forward for the advance copy.