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Deeper Water

Deeper Water 2

by Cole
Publication Date: 21/07/2014
3/5 Rating 2 Reviews
A profound and sensuous novel of grace and beauty from a stunning young Australian talent.

Innocent and unworldly, Mema is still living at home with her mother on a remote, lush hinterland property. It is a small, confined, simple sort of life, and Mema is content with it.

One day, during a heavy downpour, Mema saves a stranger from a raging creek. She takes him into her family home, where, marooned by rising floods, he has to stay until the waters recede. His sudden presence is unsettling - for Mema, her mother and her wild friend Anja - but slowly he opens the door to a new world of beckoning possibilities that threaten to sweep Mema into the deep.

'A fine and elegantly written novel from an impressive writer.' The Australian

'She ... takes the reader into a magical place.' Sydney Morning Herald

'A softly spoken coming-of-age tale that deserves the label tour de force.' North & South magazine

'Her first book, Darkness on the Edge of Town, was good, but Deeper Water is not just better, it's extraordinary.' Candida Baker, Verandah Magazine

'She takes us to a place of the strangest innocence and lovingness ... And she takes us to a physical place that's quite her own, and when you go to her country - the lush but uneasy country inland from Byron Bay - you recognise at once that she's the voice of it, the country speaks in her voice, though the captivating wise gentleness of that voice belongs only to Jessie.' Peter Bishop
Contemporary fiction
Publication Date:
HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd
Country of origin:
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  • A uniquely beautiful story

    by on

    I found this book to be completely unique compared to all else I have read. Cole’s writing was simple and delicate, yet so powerful. I love it when Australian writers make you see and feel the Aussie landscape, so that you can imagine you are there. I could place myself in Mema’s environment and I saw the remote NSW country town through Mema’s eyes, it was a sanctuary. At the same time, however, I could feel how claustrophobic and insulated it was. This story is about Mema. The way she relates to the people and land around her, the strength and loyalty of women and the discovery of sexuality.

    Mema at twenty-two has, to this point, been a child running around the countryside with her friend, Anja, isolated from current events and the reality of adulthood. We share Mema’s ‘coming of age’ story, which happens to her at quite a late age, and is prompted by the arrival of Hamish, a man from the city who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Mema has had no interest in men until Hamish finds himself thrown upon the hospitality of Mema and her family and a connection develops between the two vastly different characters. Hamish may have a better understanding of relationships and sexuality, yet it is Mema who is instinctively connected to the local environment. Hamish’s job requires him to look for environmentally sustainable energy option, yet he has no real understanding of the value of the land he is surveying. It is interesting to think that Mema and her family live where they do to as a way of withdrawing from the world – yet Mema is more connected to the physicality of it than most.

    It is difficult to put into words the casual beauty of this story. The only way to fully appreciate it would be to experience it firsthand – which is wholeheartedly my recommendation!

  • graceful and captivating

    by on

    Jessie Cole’s second novel, Deeper Water, is a graceful, captivating novel introducing Mema, a young woman who lives a simple life with her mother in a remote valley in Northern New South Wales.

    Mema is twenty two but, having spent most of her life isolated from wider society, has an innocence more befitting a young teenager, happiest running barefoot in the rain with her only friend, Anja, or watching the sky lighten at dawn. She is not uneducated but is unworldly, with little curiosity about what lies beyond the boundary of the family property. She is naive but not unknowing, aware of her mother’s reputation for promiscuity, but uninterested in men or relationships. But everything begins to change for Mema when rescues a stranger, Hamish, from the flooded creek and slowly her ‘unknowns become knowns’.

    They say every hero has to leave home, but what those first steps are like I’m yet to know”

    Deeper Water beautifully explores Mema’s belated coming-of-age, her growing awareness of herself, of her desires, and of what the outside world may have to offer her. Mema is a richly drawn character struggling with the emotional changes Hamish’s presence awakens, and the way they affect her relationships, with her family, Anja and a neighbour, Billy, in particular.

    Deeper Water is also about connection, or the lack there of. Mema is intimately connected to the landscape in which she lives, and the family she loves, but divorced from the wider world. Hamish, despite being horrified by Mema’s lack of internet and mobile access, can claim no real anchor, and despite his environmental credentials, has little connection to the land.

    The landscape in which Deeper Water is set has character of its own and is brought to life by Cole’s evocative descriptions.

    “At dusk the creek takes on a certain colour. velvety brown. Without the dapples sunshine, its depths are muted and mysterious and all the creatures seem to come to the surface. The catfish linger on their nests and the eels float by like black ribbons. The turtles perch on the flats of exposed rocks and the kingfishers fly past like the brightest of tailsmans.”

    With its simple yet elegant prose, and quiet yet deeply felt emotion, Deeper Water is a mesmerising story about a young woman’s awakening to the possibilities of love and life.