The Well: A Novel

The Well: A Novel - Catherine Chanter Ruth Ardingly has just been released from prison to serve out a sentence of house arrest for arson and suspected murder at her farm, The Well. Beyond its borders, some people whisper she is a witch; others a messiah. For as soon as Ruth returns to The Well, rain begins to fall on the farm. And it has not rained anywhere else in the country in over three years.

Ruth and her husband Mark had moved years before from London to this ancient idyll in the hopes of starting their lives over. But then the drought began, and as the surrounding land dried up and died, and The Well grew lush and full of life, they came to see their fortune would come at a price. From the envy of their neighbors to the mandates of the government, from the fanaticism of a religious order called the Sisters of the Rose to the everyday difficulties of staying close as husband and wife, mother and child—all these forces led to a horrifying crime: the death of their seven-year-old grandson, drowned with cruel irony in one of the few ponds left in the countryside.

Now back at The Well, Ruth must piece together the tragedy that shattered her marriage, her family, and her dream. For she believes her grandson’s death was no accident, and that the murderer is among the people she trusted most. Alone except for her guards on a tiny green jewel in a world rapidly turning to dust, Ruth begins to confront her worst fears and learns what really happened in the dark heart of The Well.

A tour de force about ordinary people caught in the tide of an extraordinary situation, Catherine Chanter’s The Well is a haunting, beautifully written, and utterly believable novel that probes the fragility of our personal relationships and the mystical connection between people and the places they call home.

Ordinary couple wanting to escape the London rat race buy a idyllic farm and then the drought begins.....

While the rest of the country suffers the Well appears to be the only place in the UK where rain still falls. Soon they are under siege from the media, the curious public and increasing government interest. Disgruntled locals are muttering about witchcraft, their lives are torn apart and Eden becomes Hell.

Ruth's troubled traveller daughter arrives with son and fellow travellers in tow, closely followed by a group of creepy nuns calling them the Sisters of the Rose of Jericho.

The overwhelming feeling I got from this book was a sense of isolation, The Well had become a prison for Ruth and her increasingly disturbing thoughts.

Beautifully written, the descriptive prose is very evocative:

Dawn was late, dusk early in the dying days of the year, but the mornings were medieval blue and gold.....

A long, melancholy book that maybe could have done with a little pruning here and there but worth the investment.