20 February 2009

Still Waters (Camilla Noli)

A publishing rep told me this was a 'kick-ass' read and unlike anything I would have read in the past.
The last bit was true: I don't recall ever having read anything this bad before. I probably have, but not in recent memory.

Still Waters tells the tale of a successful career woman who has become a full time mum and wife. Her life has become so mundane and pedestrian and the children rail on her nerves so much that she begins to fantasise about killing them.
And then she does.

Publication for Still Waters has been delayed here in the UK because of the Baby P. case that was all over the news. Rightly so, although I don't know when IS a good time to debut a book about baby killing, and I'm not really sure what the marketing team were worried about: a loss of sympathy for the narrator of the story? Were we supposed to feel for her?

My biggest problem is with the way this book was marketed. "All mothers love their children... don't they?" is splashed on the front cover. I was particularly horrified when a woman picked it up in the shop and mused: "I was never that maternal you know."
LADY. Did you kill your kids?
Then trust me, this is not the book to read if you're looking to empathise with the woman in it. There is a difference between a lack of maternal instinct and COLD-BLOODED MURDER. This isn't a book about the issues successful women have in adjusting to home life, or the toll taking care of children can have on a person. It is about a psychopath and should be marketed as such.

Then of course, we come to the narration. Telling a story in first person-present tense is hard enough, but with Noli's lack of narrative ability it turns the already mediocre prose (or... more accurately... words strung together) into a hack job. A reviewer on the author's website likened the narration to Camus' The Outsider.

I'm restraining myself... no, am not done:


Of course, the cliches between husband and wife coupled with amateur dialogue do nothing to help the matter. "Thoughtful issue-raising" aside (and I don't believe we have anything here other than a D-grade version of American Psycho), I don't know who would benefit from reading this book, thus it's '2' status.
(There has to be a certain horrific stigma attached to a novel to attain a '1'. Level 1 is reserved for such tomes as Mein Kampf. Doubtful that we'll ever read this... but it gets an honorary '1' anyway).

Rating: 2/10.
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