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The Water Children by Anne Berry

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Four lives. Four defining moments which will bring them together. This is a deeply moving novel bringing to life the elemental power of the past and the liberating force of reconciliation and redemption. Perfect for fans of Maggie O'Farrell, Audrey Niffenegger and Anne Tyler.

And direct from the author:

[ANNE Berry was nine years old and exploring the snow-covered English countryside with a friend when the pair fell through the ice into a freezing lake.]

"We had gone off exploring - we were staying out in the country in Sussex and it was Christmas time," Berry recalls.
"We had wandered quite a long way and came across this ice lake and we thought it would be a lark to skate on it.
"She fell through first and then I went next. We were laughing and having so much fun one minute, and then in a matter of seconds, everything changed.
"It's indescribable. You stop feeling from the waist down the moment the water gets you."
Berry not only recreates this terrifying childhood memory in her new novel, The Water Children, but draws on the life-changing experience to underpin the key theme of her book.
"I've never written about that experience before," says Berry, whose debut novel The Hungry Ghosts was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Best First Book Award.
"I have thought about it a great deal. When you are so young, to face something like that where you really know you will die, affects the way you look at life.
"I still know this friend and we're still close but I don't think she thinks about it very much at all. For her, it's something that passed. A childhood thing.
"For me, it really did fire the imagination."

If you like Anne Berry you might also like to read books by Heather Gudenkauf, Jeanette Winterson and Maggie O'Farrell.


The Water Children by Anne Berry

Owen Abingdon is haunted by nightmares of the Merfolk. He believes they have stolen his little sister who vanished while he was meant to be minding her on the beach, but he was only a child himself. Is it fair for his mother to blame him? Catherine Hoyle's perfect Christmas with her cousin from America was blighted when they went skating on thin ice and Rosalyn nearly died. Somehow, instead of being praised for raising the alarm, Catherine gets blamed. Sean Madigan grew up on a farm in Ireland. Learning to swim in the Shannon was his way of escaping the bitter poverty of his childhood, but it also incurred his father's wrath. He flees to England, but his heart belongs to the Shannon and her pulling power is ever near! Unlike the other three, Naomi Seddon didn't fear the sea. She'd been orphaned and placed in a children's home in Sheffield and cruelly abused. The sea offered her a way out and she revelled in its cruel power. The water children meet in London in the searing hot summer of 1976 and Naomi uses her siren's charm to lure Owen, Catherine and Sean into her tangled web of sexual charm and dangerous passion. A holiday in the Tuscan mountains with a flooded reservoir and its legend of the beautiful Teodora who drowned there brings this emotional drama to a powerful climax. Will the power of family, love and redemption finally help the water children conquer their fears and triumph over their childhood traumas?


Praise for The Hungry Ghosts: ' [A] stunning debut.

& HOME 'A stunning debut!Epic in scope and voice!so skilfully crafted, and the writing so elegant, it's hard to believe it is a first novel.

& MAIL 'As heart-rending as it is innovative, The Hungry Ghosts heralds Berry as an original new voice in fiction.

'This is a novel as breezy as the best summer reads, yet secrets and deadly jealousy seethe at its core!engrossing.'

About the Author

Anne Berry

Anne Berry was born in London in 1956, then spent much of her infancy in Aden, before moving on to Hong Kong at the age of six, where she was educated, first at Little Peak School, then Big Peak School, finally at the Island School, where she completed her A levels. She worked for a short period as a journalist for the South China Morning Post, before returning to Britain. After completing a three-year acting course at the Guildford School of Acting, and attaining LAMDA diplomas with honours in acting, teaching and speech therapy, she embarked on a career in theatre. She played pantomime to Shakespeare, and everything in between, shuttling around regional theatres. Most memorable were seasons spent at Theatre Clwyd Wales, Theatre Royal Windsor and Regents Park Open Air Theatre.

Waylaid by love and marriage, Anne and her husband settled in Surrey with their four children. In 1992 they moved to their present home in the village of Bookham. Here Anne founded a small drama school, running it for over ten years. Throughout this period she wrote over thirty plays, performed by the pupils of the school.

Anne's first love is writing, and it is now her full-time occupation. She remembers loving nothing so well as being given an imaginative composition for English homework at Peak School in Hong Kong. Coming a close second is theatre, with an unbridled passion for Shakespeare. She is an art lover, with Vermeer and Caravaggio being particular favourites. Anne is also a keen swimmer and walker. She has had undiminished support from her family in her writing career.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th November 1999


Anne Berry

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