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After ministering to fallen women in Victorian London, Evelyn has suffered a nervous breakdown and finds herself treated by the Water Doctors in the imposing Wakewater House, a hydropathy sanatorium. Years later, Wakewater House is renovated into modern apartments and Kirsten moves in, fresh from a break up and eager for the restorative calm of the Thames. But her archivis After ministering to fallen women in Victorian London, Evelyn has suffered a nervous breakdown and finds herself treated by the Water Doctors in the imposing Wakewater House, a hydropathy sanatorium. Years later, Wakewater House is renovated into modern apartments and Kirsten moves in, fresh from a break up and eager for the restorative calm of the Thames. But her archivist neighbour, Manon, fills her head with the river's murky past and with those men of science and art who were obsessed with the drowned women who were washed up on its banks. As Kirsten learns more about Wakewater's secrets, she becomes haunted by a solitary figure in the river and increasingly desperate to understand what the water wants from her.


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After ministering to fallen women in Victorian London, Evelyn has suffered a nervous breakdown and finds herself treated by the Water Doctors in the imposing Wakewater House, a hydropathy sanatorium. Years later, Wakewater House is renovated into modern apartments and Kirsten moves in, fresh from a break up and eager for the restorative calm of the Thames. But her archivis After ministering to fallen women in Victorian London, Evelyn has suffered a nervous breakdown and finds herself treated by the Water Doctors in the imposing Wakewater House, a hydropathy sanatorium. Years later, Wakewater House is renovated into modern apartments and Kirsten moves in, fresh from a break up and eager for the restorative calm of the Thames. But her archivist neighbour, Manon, fills her head with the river's murky past and with those men of science and art who were obsessed with the drowned women who were washed up on its banks. As Kirsten learns more about Wakewater's secrets, she becomes haunted by a solitary figure in the river and increasingly desperate to understand what the water wants from her.

30 review for Bodies of Water

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jean Menzies

    This is Leslie’s debut novel, or novela perhaps. It is written as a duel perspective, flitting between Kirsten in the 21st century and Evelyn in the 19th. Kirsten is recently single after the end of what was presumably quite a series relationship and has moved into a new flat on the outskirts of London along the banks of the river Thames. Evelyn is a wealthy but unmarried young woman who’s father has sent to her to a water treatment facility in the same building that will be remodelled almost 20 This is Leslie’s debut novel, or novela perhaps. It is written as a duel perspective, flitting between Kirsten in the 21st century and Evelyn in the 19th. Kirsten is recently single after the end of what was presumably quite a series relationship and has moved into a new flat on the outskirts of London along the banks of the river Thames. Evelyn is a wealthy but unmarried young woman who’s father has sent to her to a water treatment facility in the same building that will be remodelled almost 200 years later into Kirsten’s block of flats. What initially drew me to this book was the partial setting in a 18th century, women’s mental health facility. I find the topic of women’s hysteria and it’s treatment incredibly disturbing and fascinating. It was historically a cruel, medical cover with which to control women; and there are definite allusions to the societal pressures placed on women and women’s sexuality running throughout this book. Read the rest of my review here, on my blog: https://morejeansthoughts.wordpress.c...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    There are some really interesting themes and historical events happening in here. Unfortunately I didn't think the characters were deeply developed, nor did the Victorian time period feel tangible in those sections of the story. The climax of the stories were disconnected from the narrative that came before. And the ending felt spontaneous in that the author hadn't planned it before she started on the book. Those big issues knocked this book down two stars, but this is worth reading. I just wish There are some really interesting themes and historical events happening in here. Unfortunately I didn't think the characters were deeply developed, nor did the Victorian time period feel tangible in those sections of the story. The climax of the stories were disconnected from the narrative that came before. And the ending felt spontaneous in that the author hadn't planned it before she started on the book. Those big issues knocked this book down two stars, but this is worth reading. I just wish it had been fleshed out a bit more so I could better connect with the story and characters.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lotte

    4.5/5. This was a surprisingly emotional read and I think I'll need some time to process it all. Bodies of Water is more of a novella than a full-length novel, but it packs a punch. The story focuses on two women: Evelyn, who lives in Victorian London and who's being treated for 'female hysteria' with the water cure in Wakewater House near the river Thames, and Kirsten, who lives in present day and who moves into Wakewater House which has been renovated into modern apartments. It's a tranquil, y 4.5/5. This was a surprisingly emotional read and I think I'll need some time to process it all. Bodies of Water is more of a novella than a full-length novel, but it packs a punch. The story focuses on two women: Evelyn, who lives in Victorian London and who's being treated for 'female hysteria' with the water cure in Wakewater House near the river Thames, and Kirsten, who lives in present day and who moves into Wakewater House which has been renovated into modern apartments. It's a tranquil, yet sometimes downright creepy story full of impressive imagery and poignant thoughts regarding the historical and, to a lesser extent, current treatment of women in society. I don't want to say much more, but if you have similar bookish buzzwords like me ('female hysteria', 'Gothic fiction' and 'Victorian London' was what did it for me :D) I'm sure you're going to like this one. Similarly, if you're a fan of books like Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf or Kirsty Logan's more recent fiction, this could also be the book for you!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca McNutt

    Bodies of Water is a spectacular Victorian-set novel full of mystery and a somber atmosphere. With a great main character and beautiful descriptions of the Thames River, this book is definitely original.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Blair

    There are two strands to the plot in Bodies of Water. In the first, newly single Kirsten moves into Wakewater Apartments, a development housed in one wing of a Victorian manor that was once a hospital. It turns out she's one of the first residents: her only neighbour is an academic named Manon who has an odd preoccupation with Wakewater's history and seems to think the place has a life of its own. In the second, set in 1871, a young woman named Evelyn is sent to Wakewater to receive hydropathic There are two strands to the plot in Bodies of Water. In the first, newly single Kirsten moves into Wakewater Apartments, a development housed in one wing of a Victorian manor that was once a hospital. It turns out she's one of the first residents: her only neighbour is an academic named Manon who has an odd preoccupation with Wakewater's history and seems to think the place has a life of its own. In the second, set in 1871, a young woman named Evelyn is sent to Wakewater to receive hydropathic treatment for her 'hysteria'. She falls for another patient, Blanche, but is plagued by memories – and visions – of her former lover Milly. I'd been craving a ghost story, and hoped this would fit the bill. It starts well: the first chapter is very engaging and the setting is instantly brought to life. There's a good strong mood to Wakewater, and I loved the scenes of Kirsten's first days there and her tentative exploration of the surrounding land (and the Thames). Everyone's obsession with water verges on silly, but on the whole, the is-it-or-isn't-it-real hauntings are effectively done. The book is short, which means there isn't a lot of room for the characters or any of their relationships to be developed. A certain shift in Evelyn's personality happens too quickly to feel anything other than melodramatic, and I never got a sense of how Kirsten felt about her ex or how the breakup had affected her. Evelyn's work with prostitutes (or 'fallen women', as the narrative constantly has it) leads to a lot of moralising which I found rather tedious – one of those instances of modern attitudes being forced into a historical context. Finally, the ebook I read had a number of annoying typos and errors in it. Good atmosphere, and I would be interested in checking out the author's short stories, but overall this was a bit of a disappointment. TinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

  6. 5 out of 5

    Fiona MacDonald

    I stumbled upon this book in a charity shop, and was drawn to the title, the picture on the front cover and the blurb describing it. Anything to do with Victorian ghosts, asylums or the water cure, I'm there! The book jumps backwards and forwards in time with a duel narrative. Firstly to present day, where Kirsten has moved into a newly renovated block of flats, that originally housed the hydropathy sanitorium - Wakewater house in Victorian London. Kirsten is eager for peace and quiet after a na I stumbled upon this book in a charity shop, and was drawn to the title, the picture on the front cover and the blurb describing it. Anything to do with Victorian ghosts, asylums or the water cure, I'm there! The book jumps backwards and forwards in time with a duel narrative. Firstly to present day, where Kirsten has moved into a newly renovated block of flats, that originally housed the hydropathy sanitorium - Wakewater house in Victorian London. Kirsten is eager for peace and quiet after a nasty breakup, and believes that the calming properties of the Thames will help. We then jump back into Victorian London, where a young woman named Evelyn has just arrived at the sanitorium after having suffered a nervous breakdown. She meets another resident named Blanche who carries a dark secret that Evelyn can only hope to uncover, at least she managed to take her favourite dress of beautiful green taffata to the sanitorium. Back in present day, Kirsten meets the only other resident at the flats. An older woman named Manon, who is intent on filling Kirsten's head with stories of the past and all the poor women who committed suicide in the water. Kirsten has also started noticing a mournful looking woman standing in the dark by the edge river with long dark hair and dressed in an elegant green dress... This was everything I wanted it to be. I was emotionally invested in the stories of both women, as well as being invested in the history of Wakewater House, and also desperately sad for all the women who were discarded like pieces of rubbish. I had only read the first page of this, and I was already ordering another of V.H.Leslie's books.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Toby

    A couple of cutout protagonists that act as a convenient vehicle for exposition and didactic storytelling that explores the societal pressures placed on women across two different time periods wrapped in a lazy attempt to disguise it as a gothic ghost story. At 130 pages its existence specifically feels like one of Leslie's short story ideas dragged out to novella length or a much larger exploration of an idea - and I mean Wind-Up Bird Chronicle length and style - gutted and simplified for the s A couple of cutout protagonists that act as a convenient vehicle for exposition and didactic storytelling that explores the societal pressures placed on women across two different time periods wrapped in a lazy attempt to disguise it as a gothic ghost story. At 130 pages its existence specifically feels like one of Leslie's short story ideas dragged out to novella length or a much larger exploration of an idea - and I mean Wind-Up Bird Chronicle length and style - gutted and simplified for the shorter form. Ultimately disappointing.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    This was nearly a one-sitting read for me: I read 94 pages in one go, though that may be because I was trapped under the cat at the time. The first thing I noted was that the setup and dual timeframe are exactly the same as in Barbara Kingsolver’s Unsheltered: we switch between the same place in 2016 and 1871. In this case it’s Wakewater House, a residential development by the Thames that incorporates the site of a dilapidated Victorian hydrotherapy center. After her partner cheats on her, Kirst This was nearly a one-sitting read for me: I read 94 pages in one go, though that may be because I was trapped under the cat at the time. The first thing I noted was that the setup and dual timeframe are exactly the same as in Barbara Kingsolver’s Unsheltered: we switch between the same place in 2016 and 1871. In this case it’s Wakewater House, a residential development by the Thames that incorporates the site of a dilapidated Victorian hydrotherapy center. After her partner cheats on her, Kirsten moves into Wakewater, where she’s alone apart from one neighbor, Manon, a hoarder who’s researching Anatomical Venuses – often modeled on prostitutes who drowned themselves in the river. In the historical strand, we see Wakewater through the eyes of Evelyn Byrne, who rescues street prostitutes and, after a disastrously ended relationship of her own, has arrived to take the Water Cure. The literal and metaphorical connections between the two story lines are strong. Pretty much every paragraph has a water word in it, whether it’s “river,” “sea,” “aquatic” or “immersion.” Both women see ghostly figures emerging from the water, and Manon’s interest in legends about water spirits and the motif of the drowned girl (like the Lady of Shalott [“She was sick of shadows” recalls Tennyson’s poem] and Millais’ Ophelia) adds texture. The short chapters keep things ticking over, and I loved the spooky atmosphere. (It’s just a shame that the book has been so poorly proofread. There are lots of missing or wrong words (“scold” instead of scald, “distended” instead of extended) and typos. The name Evelyn is even used by accident in one of Kirsten’s chapters! I know Salt is an independent publisher with a small budget, but these kinds of mistakes give an author and imprint a bad name.) A favorite line: “Sometimes old places like this retain a bit of the past, in the fabric of the building, and occasionally, they seep.” Originally published on my blog, Bookish Beck.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jessie

    This short book surprised me in its richness, I loved it! It had an unexpected feminist twist, which really aided the story. Beautifully written, a real page turner. It spooked me out, but I could not put it away. If you love your books Victorian, gothic and spooky, definitely give this one a go!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    Unfortunately it was too repetitive and inconsistent.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Chloe (Paint and Butterflies Books)

    Loved this, it only a short book but is a really slow burn and has a slow creepy build. Loved it would definitely recommend I will be doing a full review on my blog https://paintandbutterfliesbooks.word... Loved this, it only a short book but is a really slow burn and has a slow creepy build. Loved it would definitely recommend I will be doing a full review on my blog https://paintandbutterfliesbooks.word...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sonja

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I really wanted this book to be good. But it wasn't. Most drastically, this book somehow managed to convey the exact opposite of what it intended. It had more sexist scenes than anything else. Like Kirsten needing to deal with an oh so confusing folder of stuff now that her ex-boyfriend of ten years doesn't deal with it anymore? Or Blanche practically enjoying her doctor taking advantage of her, either that or fulfilling the "all bisexuals cheat"-trope? And in that very same scene, from Evelyn's I really wanted this book to be good. But it wasn't. Most drastically, this book somehow managed to convey the exact opposite of what it intended. It had more sexist scenes than anything else. Like Kirsten needing to deal with an oh so confusing folder of stuff now that her ex-boyfriend of ten years doesn't deal with it anymore? Or Blanche practically enjoying her doctor taking advantage of her, either that or fulfilling the "all bisexuals cheat"-trope? And in that very same scene, from Evelyn's point of view, the talk about the "lowest kind of women" like there is a ranking system in value - coming from the protagonist who spent her life saving prostitutes from cruel fates by the way - and the only solution to that "problem" being what, murder?! In not a single moment this read made me feel like the usual treatments for female "hysteria", like rape, torture, mutilation, was being depicted as anything more than a mild inconvenience and mostly administered with consent given. In addition to this, an abundance of spelling mistakes/typos (like Wakewaker) and grammatical errors you just could not ignore spoiled this read even further, and the author mixing up the protagonists' names just takes the cake. Didn't anyone proofread this thing? I won't even try to put into words how much i disliked the writing style. In the end i was just one more "Kirsten negotiated xyz" away from throwing this thing into the Rhine for someone to keep. I'd also like to add that the characters are shallower then the stupid water that's constantly on the floor and YES the redundancy of practically everything was overwhelming! This was only 130 pages, every second chapter starts the same, some bits of backstory are retold twice or even more often. I am not going to judge the historical accuracy of dialogue or setting because i don't know a thing about Victorian London, but at the very least something felt very, very off about those chapters and the way these people talked to each other. To conclude, this novel could hardly have been worse.

  13. 5 out of 5

    lauren ♡

    This was quite different to what I was expecting, but it was a really eye opening and unique read. At times it was quite difficult too, but that's what I love. I'll try and have a review up soon!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Leah Bayer

    This is one of those books I finished and immediately had almost no opinion on: I didn't hate it, I didn't love it. I feel decidedly lukewarm on pretty much every aspect. Which is odd, because the themes (intense female friendship, bizarre antiquated cures for madness, mythology/magical realism elements, alternating past-and-present storylines, cats!!) are things I almost always love or at least can easily get involved with. But Bodies of Water was decidedly bland. The writing was decent and had This is one of those books I finished and immediately had almost no opinion on: I didn't hate it, I didn't love it. I feel decidedly lukewarm on pretty much every aspect. Which is odd, because the themes (intense female friendship, bizarre antiquated cures for madness, mythology/magical realism elements, alternating past-and-present storylines, cats!!) are things I almost always love or at least can easily get involved with. But Bodies of Water was decidedly bland. The writing was decent and had some sparks of beauty, but mostly came across as just adequate. The characters are quite flat. They have interesting backgrounds, but everything we see from their perspective makes them seem dreadfully dull. They also act in a way that drives the plot forward but makes no real-world sense. If you moved into a brand-new apartment and the ceiling started leaking, would you 1) visit your upstairs neighbor to ~investigate~ and then forget about it or 2) call the fucking super to fix it asap because it's DRIPPING ALL OVER YOUR BED. Our girl Kirsten takes #1 because yeah, that's logical. Their motivations don't line up with their actions at all, and it's a consistent issue. I think one of the main problems was the length. It's so short but covers two stories with deep backgrounds. There's a LOT going on, and each story could have easily been 100+ pages. It wouldn't fix the other issues but it would make it easier to get invested. With this novella format, by the time I finally gave a damn about the plots it was over. Something interesting happened (there's honestly only one real 'event' in the book) and 10 pages later it's the end of the book? The pacing is quite poor. I know this was going for a traditional Gothic atmosphere, and it had a great base to work with. The plot sounds so interesting on paper, and issues of mental illness and sexuality are just begging to play out on a weird Gothic water therapy stage. Yet this was just okay in almost every way. Super forgettable.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Noelia Alonso

    ACTUAL RATING: 3.5 STARS

  16. 4 out of 5

    anud-be

    4.35 ☆ This was weird I really liked it ,I don't usually read horror or historical fiction but I think I'm going to start reading them now .

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Cooke (Bookish Shenanigans)

    I enjoyed this dual narrative of Evelyn: a queer Victorian woman being treated for hysteria and Kirsten: a modern-day tenant haunted by the hospital's and water's ghosts. It certainly made me appreciate a lot of the freedoms I enjoy today compared to women of the past. It's also good for people like me who don't mind a bit of ghosty, spookiness but can't deal with anything actually scary.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sarah5

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I loved the first half of this - an eerie gothic tale of women and mental health in Victorian times. Atmospheric descriptions of the river and water throughout. But the second half was not convincing and as it was a short novel / novella the characters felt under developed. A shame as it had great promise!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Wilson

    If you enjoy lesbian supernatural with forced feminist lecturing, then this is the book for you. This plot had potential, but it was an underdeveloped, waterlogged Amityville horror type tale replete with soap - box style lessons on the wrongs perpetrated by men against womanhood and a few literary references thrown in for good measure.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Col

    Synopsis/blurb….. After ministering to fallen women in Victorian London, Evelyn has suffered a nervous breakdown and finds herself treated by the Water Doctors in the imposing Wakewater House, a hydropathy sanatorium. Years later, Wakewater House is renovated into modern apartments and Kirsten moves in, fresh from a break up and eager for the restorative calm of the Thames. But her archivist neighbour, Manon, fills her head with the river's murky past and with those men of science and art who wer Synopsis/blurb….. After ministering to fallen women in Victorian London, Evelyn has suffered a nervous breakdown and finds herself treated by the Water Doctors in the imposing Wakewater House, a hydropathy sanatorium. Years later, Wakewater House is renovated into modern apartments and Kirsten moves in, fresh from a break up and eager for the restorative calm of the Thames. But her archivist neighbour, Manon, fills her head with the river's murky past and with those men of science and art who were obsessed with the drowned women who were washed up on its banks. As Kirsten learns more about Wakewater's secrets, she becomes haunted by a solitary figure in the river and increasingly desperate to understand what the water wants from her. -------------- My take.... Not my usual type of reading but to be fair I quite enjoyed it. We have a dual timeline narrative. In the present day Kirsten has moved into her newly renovated apartment over-looking the Thames at Wakewater house. She’s separated from her boyfriend-fiancee-fellah (not quite sure which – though it was a serious relationship) Lewis and she’s trying to move on with her life. The proximity to the Thames and the lure of the water compelled her to take the apartment. The only other apartment occupied is taken by Manon, a rather strange woman who has a similar obsession with the water and the history of the building which was previously a sanatorium for women. The pair takes riverside walks and there are quite odd happenings. Kirsten’s apartment floods from above, but there’s no apparent source for the water. A strange figure is often seen on the banks of the Thames and once when followed enters the apartment and disappears, leaving wet footprints behind. Manon falls in her flat and departs in an ambulance muttering strangely, plus she has a jittery cat! In our other narrative we meet Evelyn, a Victorian do-gooder and helper of fallen prostitutes. Evelyn has suffered burn-out and had a breakdown. Her family have sent her off to Wakewater to be treated and get better. We learn Evelyn’s backstory and discover that she was involved intimately with Millie a prostitute she tried to help. Millie, being with-child eventually drowning herself in the Thames. Apparently (and I’m going to google it to check) a lot of prostitutes met a similar fate – they do in our story at least. The Thames and its water is the other big brooding character in this book. Millie remains a haunting presence and influences both outcomes for Evelyn and Kirsten. A real ghostly presence or imagined through some mental disintegration of our protagonists? I’m not quite sure and I don’t think it matters. For some reason that I can’t articulate, I really liked the book, even though it is a million miles from my preferred reading genre. A ghost story or a psychological mind-fuck? Who cares? 4 from 5 Thanks to Salt Publishing for my copy of this one. V. H. Leslie had a collection of stories released in 2015 – Skein and Bone. She has a website here. https://vhleslie.wordpress.com/ Read in August, 2016 https://col2910.blogspot.co.uk/2016/0...

  21. 5 out of 5

    Julia Tulloh Harper

    This novella was awesome - a dark and eerie gothic tale with a focus on women characters and how women's bodies have been treated by men and male-dominated society over time. The story has two narrative threads - one follows Evelyn, a young woman in 19th century England who has been diagnosed with a 'female complaint' and prescribed hydropathy, also known as 'the water cure', as treatment, at a hospital dedicated to this healing practice. Hydropathy basically included any range of watery activiti This novella was awesome - a dark and eerie gothic tale with a focus on women characters and how women's bodies have been treated by men and male-dominated society over time. The story has two narrative threads - one follows Evelyn, a young woman in 19th century England who has been diagnosed with a 'female complaint' and prescribed hydropathy, also known as 'the water cure', as treatment, at a hospital dedicated to this healing practice. Hydropathy basically included any range of watery activities - bathing, steaming, being chilled or warmed, cold compresses - even weird pouches of water worn beneath the clothes. The other storyline follows Kirsten, a woman in the 21st century who has moved to her new apartment in the old hydropathy hospital, which has been redeveloped into flats. Both women are compelled and repulsed by the water, and water starts taking over their lives... there are lots of creepy and beautiful descriptions of water in all sorts of different scenarios, and a lot of references to the way water has featured in various mythologies and in folklore. Both Kirsten and Evelyn start seeing a strange woman emerge from the river, a woman who influences their lives in different ways, and the whole things leads to an interesting, sad, gory, and awesome conclusion. The only reason I didn't give this 5 stars was that a couple of times at the start some of the prose was a little bit information dumpy (the rest of the writing was lovely, though). Otherwise, I loved this. If you want a strange, beautiful, feminist, and fairy-tale-esque Victorian gothic tale - read this.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Samuel Johnson once dismissed a book as 'both good and original' for 'the parts that are good are not original, and the parts that are original are not good.' 'Bodies of Water' fits this estimation very well. Aside from the thoroughly derivative Sarah Waters (appropriately enough) backstory, which is filled with the kind of clunky research that even BA creative writing students wouldn't flaunt so obviously, the book is poorly plotted, has desperately clichéd characters (past and present), and is Samuel Johnson once dismissed a book as 'both good and original' for 'the parts that are good are not original, and the parts that are original are not good.' 'Bodies of Water' fits this estimation very well. Aside from the thoroughly derivative Sarah Waters (appropriately enough) backstory, which is filled with the kind of clunky research that even BA creative writing students wouldn't flaunt so obviously, the book is poorly plotted, has desperately clichéd characters (past and present), and is written in such a way as to suggest an uncorrected draft. Successive sentences finish with the same word, the syntax is repetitive, the imagery generally botched, and the paucity of imaginative ability and resources is exposed on every page. Did she never think to read her prose aloud to eliminate such infelicities? Did she never read her dialogue aloud? Does she think people ever speak (or spoke) as they do here? The modern 'haunted apartments' could have come from Hammer House of Horror in 1979, while the watery finale is part 'Woman in Black' and part 'I've read a few compilations of myths and legends and it'll probably be okay'. It isn't. Sometimes only a book as brief as this one can be quite so boring. Reading it was a wade through treacle. I didn't even like the cat. Rant over, but I won't be spending my hard-earned cash on anything else by Victoria Leslie. Whatever you may think of her imagination, she needs to go away and practice the basic skills of literary composition. Only then will her prose be prose, rather than words on a page that are inexpertly moved around. Reading her is like watching a five year old trying to eat peas with a fork.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Maryam

    BooktubeAThon Book 7: read a book only after sunset. Overall meh because it was waaaaay to repetitive for me. It had some interesting reflexions on the body and sexuality and the hydrotherapy element was intriguing but it's definitely not the best novella out there.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty

    One of my favourites of 2016, in the category 'Best Novella About Hydropathy & Feminism': http://www.kirstylogan.com/best-books... One of my favourites of 2016, in the category 'Best Novella About Hydropathy & Feminism': http://www.kirstylogan.com/best-books...

  25. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    2.5/5 stars Bodies of Water was a book I thought I was going to really love so it has been a slight disappointment. I certainly got more than I bargained for on the horror front. Many people whose reviews on GR and Youtube I trust talked about the intertwining storylines and the subtlety of the novella, but the overwhelming impression I got was of heavy-handedness. The constant use of water-related language when not talking about water or the river at all (there were many examples but the only on 2.5/5 stars Bodies of Water was a book I thought I was going to really love so it has been a slight disappointment. I certainly got more than I bargained for on the horror front. Many people whose reviews on GR and Youtube I trust talked about the intertwining storylines and the subtlety of the novella, but the overwhelming impression I got was of heavy-handedness. The constant use of water-related language when not talking about water or the river at all (there were many examples but the only one coming to mind right now is "swimmingly"), just to relate it back to water at all times, started to get on my nerves a little. Constant punning doesn't exactly leave you with the feeling of the book (or author) taking itself very seriously. Maybe that's what she was going for, idk. But the rest of the time the tone is quite serious so that's not the impression I got. Similarly, I thought some of the symbolism and imagery was a bit laboured. The constant reminder of the orchard and the apples (i.e. Eve and the fallen woman - not quite as apparent in an out-of-context review), as well as some of the mythology and dogmatic reminders that yes, women and prostitutes drowned themselves in the Thames, I thought were just a little too repetitive. Leslie could have left some of the mythology and mythologic imagery up to the reader to work out rather than explain it all, and I don't think the book would have suffered. I also thought that the two protagonists turned into psychopaths at the end, which wasn't really a natural development of their character arcs. Evelyn, of the 1800s storyline, suddenly made a U-turn on her caring and compassionate attitude towards the prostitutes and those much less fortunate than herself that she'd espoused all throughout the book, to suddenly start describing them as "sinners" and "really [belonging] at the very, very bottom" of society. (view spoiler)[ Kirsten also has a total lapse in personality as she lets Manon be dragged into the river by a (barely believable) horde of drowned women. (hide spoiler)] Leslie sets up Evelyn as a very sane, indeed forward-thinking woman, with at times a modern clarity of thinking (like a side-eye at the reader to share the absurdity of notions such as a 'water cure' and 'hysteria'). There is also the suggestion that the real reason she's at Wakewater for this therapy is her grumpy father and that she's completely fine, just a woman off doing her own work, which wasn't seen as the right thing at the time. (I'm guessing at this backstory based on what little information is given at the beginning of the story - I was fully expecting the name-dropped father as well as the reason for her having been sent to Wakewater to be more fully fleshed out, but it's never mentioned again and completely underdeveloped. All it would have taken was one more little chapter to explain the alluded-to reason for her being sent there and the book would feel much more complete. As it is it feels like a 3rd draft.) Towards the end of the story, I felt the narration descended somewhat into man-hating. It was quite funny at some moments I'll admit ('why had nobody yet realised the solution to venereal disease and prostitution is castration') but as the anti-men tirade went on I was just left with the feeling that the author had a bit between her teeth. Overall I think this could have been considerably better if it were much longer (double the size (which isn't saying much as it's only 130 pages)) and had much more exposition and filling out the characters' histories. She could really have shown the lesbian relationship between Milly and Evelyn blossom, and followed Milly from leaving Evelyn to committing suicide (did she go straight from her room to the river? or was there a long period in between, in which she went back to prostitution and that's how she wound up pregnant? we'll never know). Leslie jumps straight into the plot, giving both main characters I think one short chapter each to introduce themselves before the first eerie sighting of the woman on the riverbank, all of which had quite a rushed feel. Rather than diving into the plot from the very outset, in my opinion the author should have spent more time developing exposition and back story, and then going into the sightings and odd happenings. As I said, I think the book could have been much better if it were double the size and the plot diluted. (pun intended)

  26. 5 out of 5

    Daný

    V.H. Leslie's Bodies of Water describes two parallel stories: in the present, that of Kirsten, a young woman moving into a flat on her own after her long-time partner broke up with her; and that of Evelyn, also a young woman, but one whose story is set in the 1870s. Evelyn is diagnosed with the catch-all woman's disorder hysteria and is sent to Wakewater House, where patients - or rather, 'guests' - are treated with the water cure to recover their equilibrium. Evelyn's nerves are supposedly over V.H. Leslie's Bodies of Water describes two parallel stories: in the present, that of Kirsten, a young woman moving into a flat on her own after her long-time partner broke up with her; and that of Evelyn, also a young woman, but one whose story is set in the 1870s. Evelyn is diagnosed with the catch-all woman's disorder hysteria and is sent to Wakewater House, where patients - or rather, 'guests' - are treated with the water cure to recover their equilibrium. Evelyn's nerves are supposedly overtaxed because of the work she was doing for the rescue society, trying to get women off the streets and offer them other options than prostitution. In Kirsten's time, property developers have bought Wakewater House and are splitting it up into flats. Kirsten and her somewhat odd upstairs neighbour Manon are the only ones living in the building, a building that keeps alive its watery past. As the story develops, Wakewater House becomes an increasingly threatening presence. But is it the house, or the stories it has to tell? And what about the dark-haired young woman that Evelyn and Kirsten both keep seeing around? This is V.H. Leslie's first sort-of full-lenght book - more of a novella, really - though she has published numerous short stories before (among them the collection Skein and Bone, which was nominated for the 2016 British Fantasy Awards). I found it well-written and especially liked the precise and detailed language-use - almost every word seemed to be the right one for that place and meaning. At the same time, I'm not sure what to think about the use of the novella-length. On the one hand, there is clearly more room for detail than there would have been in a short story. On the other, though, it did feel like there were some things that could have done with a bit more information, such as Kirsten's relation and break-up, or Evelyn's position in society. Overall, though, it was definitely worth reading. I really liked the details about hydropathy and the way Leslie managed to sketch a credible outline of the Victorian period in a limited amount of (word)space. Would recommend to anyone interested in the Victorian period and the position of women in it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    This is a subtle horror that relies on tension rather than cheap thrills. The interlocking narratives, one gothic and the other modern, work really well together to reveal the story. I liked the author's uncomplicated word choice, which helped to immerse me in the story. I also liked the themes (though i'd have to think more on them to explain it). There book attempts to do more than tell the story, but I didn't feel that the subtext was overbearing (though it's not subtle either). I liked the way This is a subtle horror that relies on tension rather than cheap thrills. The interlocking narratives, one gothic and the other modern, work really well together to reveal the story. I liked the author's uncomplicated word choice, which helped to immerse me in the story. I also liked the themes (though i'd have to think more on them to explain it). There book attempts to do more than tell the story, but I didn't feel that the subtext was overbearing (though it's not subtle either). I liked the way that the first couple don't give away the genre. The story was interesting enough to be carried without throwing in overt creepiness from the start. The ramp up of the wrongness is done very well. I liked that the protagonists were well defined flawed characters who carried a lot of baggage. By the end of the book I was satisfied with what i'd read and how it concluded. I was also satisfied with the length of the book (novella length?). The only fault I had with the book (kindle edition) was the number of typos / missing words. There were a number towards the first half of the book and, having to re-read the sentences to comprehend them, pulled me out of the story. There is a lot of value in this story. Give it a go.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    This is a weird, creepy little book. It's a slow-starter, but I began to enjoy it about a third of the way through. I particularly enjoyed its treatment of gender, mental illness, 19th century medical treatments of women, and lesbianism. The continual repetition of water was understandable, but also annoying at times. Parts seemed redundant and could have been edited a bit better. However, I liked the moodiness of the novella, which in some way reminded me of Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper," to This is a weird, creepy little book. It's a slow-starter, but I began to enjoy it about a third of the way through. I particularly enjoyed its treatment of gender, mental illness, 19th century medical treatments of women, and lesbianism. The continual repetition of water was understandable, but also annoying at times. Parts seemed redundant and could have been edited a bit better. However, I liked the moodiness of the novella, which in some way reminded me of Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper," to which this work owes much debt.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Therese

    Short but spooky! I really enjoyed this novella, genuinely creepy in parts and definitely got under my skin a little. I loved the flips between the two main characters and their respective time periods and the description of Wakewater House was very well done in both time settings. I felt like the ending was a little rushed and not fully explained. I don’t need every detail hammered out but without wanting to give it away, I felt like it needed just a little more fleshing out. Looking forward to Short but spooky! I really enjoyed this novella, genuinely creepy in parts and definitely got under my skin a little. I loved the flips between the two main characters and their respective time periods and the description of Wakewater House was very well done in both time settings. I felt like the ending was a little rushed and not fully explained. I don’t need every detail hammered out but without wanting to give it away, I felt like it needed just a little more fleshing out. Looking forward to reading more from his author.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ophelia

    I liked the setting and the mystery aspect. It was very descriptive, I could envisage every scene and sometimes it truly sent shivers down my spine. There were some interesting ideas and beautiful lines as well. However, it felt like it was lacking some further development. I understand that women-oriented injustices were the central subject of the story, but it still felt somewhat forced. There was so much attention on the fact that women were/are mistreated that it completely overshadowed the p I liked the setting and the mystery aspect. It was very descriptive, I could envisage every scene and sometimes it truly sent shivers down my spine. There were some interesting ideas and beautiful lines as well. However, it felt like it was lacking some further development. I understand that women-oriented injustices were the central subject of the story, but it still felt somewhat forced. There was so much attention on the fact that women were/are mistreated that it completely overshadowed the plot itself at times. It was extremely in-your-face, and that's not good.

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