Into the Water – Welcome to The Drowning Pool

Beckford is not a suicide spot.  Beckford is a place to get rid of troublesome women.

The very first page of Into the Water by Paula Hawkins whose debut novel The Girl on the Train became a global best-seller is a re-imagining of a horrific historic moment. A young girl accused of witchcraft is ‘tested’ by seeing whether the water will accept or reject her. Her death by drowning ‘proves’ her innocence. This is a story of drowned women with a touch of the uncanny to the whole proceedings. One of the central characters is a self-proclaimed psychic who speaks to the dead and is reportedly a descendant of an executed witch. It’s also a story about stories; there’s a double manuscript within the book, including and most especially those stories we tell ourselves. Like The Girl on the Train, Hawkins explores the fluid, imperfect, nature of memory and how easy it is for people to construct false narratives. Which means we are treated to a series of unreliable narrators.

The first such narrator is Jules Abbott a thirty something social worker who’s shocked to learn that her estranged sister Nell has purportedly jumped off the Beckford bridge and left Jules custodian of her teenaged daughter the beautiful, troubled Lena. Beckford’s bridge and infamous ‘drowning pool’ have seen the deaths of many women over the years, including a teenage girl only a few months before. Indeed Nell Abbott had a morbid fascination with the site and was writing a book about it; something that put her on the bad side of a number of local residents. Jules Abbott is forced to confront the past she’s spent over twenty years running from and learns hard truths along the way. Nor is she the only one. There are more than a few secrets in Beckford. Hawkins is working with a larger canvas here than in her debut and with far more characters. It was risky but she pulls it off with a writing style that’s lyrical, elegiac, melancholy, and macabre all at once. It’s a book you’ll want to read in one sitting and the final pages with echo with you long afterwards.

Into the Water
Paula Hawkins

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About Winnefred Ann Frolik (155 Articles)
Winnefred Ann Frolik (Winnie for short) was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She completed the International Baccleareate program at Schenley High School and then attended the University of Pittsburgh where she completed a double major in English Literature and Creative Writing. After graduation she spent a number of years working in the non-profit sector and it was during that phase in her life she moved to D.C.  Winnie co-wrote a book on women in the U.S. Senate with Billy Herzig.  She enrolled in a baking program in culinary school and worked in food services for a while. She currently works in personal services while writing for Woman Around Town and doing other freelance writing projects including feeble personal attempts at fiction. Her brother is a reporter in Dayton, Ohio so clearly there are strong writing genes in the family.  She lives in Pittsburgh, PA, with two demanding cats.