Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

Catherine Steadman’s debut novel starts off in an attention-grabbing way that cannot fail to intrigue…and I will leave you to find that out for yourself. We are then led back through preceding events to discover exactly how our narrator got to this point, she being Erin, a documentary maker and by her own admission, fairly ordinary person.

Erin is in a relationship with Mark and the book takes us from the moment that they meet through to their married life. They seem the perfect couple and are looking towards their future together. However, is all as it seems?

A series of events in the book transport Erin into a part of herself that she never knew existed – one that requires calculation and thorough thinking; she is presented with certain choices with regard to certain things and the resulting decisions that she makes means that she is required to act in a way that is alien to her. We follow her through this process, a process that takes her deeper and deeper into a situation that one could argue is of her own making as the path that she decides to take is tinged with danger, but she just can’t seem to help herself. I liked, for the most part, this aspect of the book – I think that life is very much a series of choices and that is the bulk of what you have here: an examination of an individual’s deliberations about what or what not to do in a certain situation. However, I have to say, I found it a little wearing especially towards the end of the book. I’m not really sure why this was – Erin is an engaging narrator and I generally like novels that show the inner workings of a character’s mind and this novel provides plenty of opportunity to place yourself in her position and consider your own responses but as the action was reaching its conclusion, I just found it tedious and skim read Erin’s rhetorical questions to self in search of how the book would end.

I also felt like there were several avenues in the book which were unexplored or underdeveloped, for example, the people who she is interviewing for her documentary and their actual importance to the story, and the motives of other important characters and their actions.

Not a bad book at all but not wholly fulfilling.

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