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3.21 of 5 stars 3.21  ·  rating details  ·  147 ratings  ·  20 reviews
A beautiful and mesmerizing debut, Coldwater is the tale of three sisters, the dangers of isolation, and the explosive repercussions when seemingly absolute power is challenged.

Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Wolf live on Coldwater, a penal colony off the coast of Australia, where their father, Captain Wolf, rules the household with the same unyielding sternness he imposes on
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published August 7th 2001 by Doubleday (first published January 1st 2001)
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I loved the idea of this book! Mardi McConnochie deserves much praise for turning her curiosity about the elusive Bronte sisters into a work of fiction. She plunks the literary trio onto the island of Coldwater, a penal colony off the coast of Australia. The sisters live there with Captain Wolf, their unyielding father. Theirs is a life of isolation, with time spent on household chores, cooking, and sewing. Their fates are soon changed as each of the sisters grow weary of their stagnant existenc ...more
Lily Mulholland
Another book I really wanted to like, but came away from disenchanted. It's a gothic tale of three young girls trapped on an island that's literally a prison - a convict prison in early white settlement Australia. Told in the vein of the Bronte sisters (of whom the author is apparently a great fan), the novel read unfortunately almost as fan fiction. The names of the key protagonists are all from history, there are nods to Jane Eyre and Pride & Prejudice, as well as the hystrionics of Wuther ...more
Mardi McConnochie has had a life-long fascination with the lives of the Bronte sisters and their repressed lives with their father on the Yorkshire moors. Using their story as a starting point, Coldwater is the story of three sisters, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, and the dangers of isolating and dominating adult children. The novel is set in a penal colony off the coast of Australia where the sister's father, Captain Edward Wolf, is the Governor of the prison and attempts to run his household wit ...more
I was confused by this book... At first I thought it was supposed to be about the Bronte sisters, because that's what it alluded to in the description. While curious that I'd never known they were Australian, I thought perhaps Mardi was just using their real lives and making up a story to go with what was known about them. However, aside from the first names of the family it seems to have nothing to do with them. The timeline of their lives and deaths didn't even match up. I don't understand why ...more
I wanted to like this book - because the idea is so fascinating (what if instead of existing in isolation in England, the Bronte sisters lived in isolation in colonial Australia? Discuss.)

In fact, my suspicion is that this might have been a higher degree by research thesis (where a student will write a creative piece and then apply theory to create an exigetical dissertation by way of explanation.)

So, I read fiction to get away from academia (as I usually read in bed when I've been marking stud
JG (The Introverted Reader)
Author Mardi McConnochie imagines what the lives of the Brontë sisters would have been like if they had grown up on a remote island/penal colony off the coast of Australia. In this fictional tale, their father is the warden of the colony, paranoid to the point of madness and with a giant God-complex. He makes life hard for everyone on the island, including his daughters. Charlotte is the sensible one, Emily is overly sensitive with a large streak of the fey in her, and Anne is caught somewhere b ...more
Feb 05, 2014 Jean added it
Loved this book. The idea of your dad being a prison warden and raising three daughters on this island, just is different, and I like different.
I liked the way the book made me wonder about the fathers character. Was he just doing his best or getting very carried away?
I have three daughters and one is named Emily so of course I pictured what these girls were really like.
It held my interest the whole way through!
Antoinette Buchanan
Wanted to like this but I gave it a hundred pages and even though there was promise of something happening, by then I just didn't care. This may say more about my attention span than than the quality of the book but I don't need further education in penal NSW and the rest didn't engage me enough.
Jun 03, 2009 Jane rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who enjoy historical novels, learning about other places
This is an historical novel about a widower, the Commandant of a remote Australian penal colony, and his three daughters, Emily, Charlotte, and Anne. The three young women are writers, in a tale suggestive somewhat of the Bronte sisters, the famous English authors. Written in the style of a Victorian novel it details the dangers of isolation and the explosive repercussions when the seemingly absolute power of the Commandant is challenged. As with all Victorian novels, there is a fair share of un ...more
Jolynn Powers
interesting setting and time period.. a island prison off the coast of Australia and a family that lives and works their. Found the idea interesting full of interaction between the family and the criminals.. but just to slow and romantic for me.Criminals are painted to be Heroes and a love affair happens.. fell a sleep reading this every time I picked it up
Carrie Z
3 daughters live on prison island; father I prison governor.
I found this book to be sad and true to the time. Submission, loyalty, suffering all must have been felt by the women of those days. The creative mind so wanting to be allowed the opportunity to be expressed and to feel happy and joyful about that expression. This book told a great tale and I was riveted at the hope that things were going to turn out so good for the three sisters, in spite of the odds. Interesting story with a twist about the Infamous Bronte family.
Three sisters and their father the Governor of a convict island off the coast of Australia which is part of a penal colony. Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Captain Wolf. Interesting reconstruction of the Bronte family. Wonderfully written and becomes a psychological thriller when Emily falls in love with one of the convicts, Anne falls in love with "the Diver", Charlotte tries to save them all, and the Captain tries to control them all.
A diary of sorts, leaving hints about the famous Bronte sisters as the author spends quite another tale. I especially loved the way Emily wrote--lots of dashes. Emily's description of the dream state (pages 95-97) was one piece of perfect literature--well done.
This story never quite gets off the ground. It's supposed to be based upon the Bronte sisters, but I never quite got the feeling of a decent plot. It has interesting points, and the setting is unique, but overall, the story wasn't strong.
Feb 16, 2012 Karen added it
A fictionalized story about the Bronte sisters stuck on a penal colony island with their prison warden father. They want to write, they want to fall in love, they have lots of emotions.
A very interesting, well written twist on the lives of the Bronte sisters. Be sure to read the author's interview at the end.
this is a made up story about what the life of the Bronte sisters might have been like.

OK book.
Feb 27, 2013 Rebecca marked it as no-thanks
Nothing objectionable so far, but it's failed to hold my attention.
Beth Shields-Szostak
Jun 22, 2010 Beth Shields-Szostak marked it as to-read
1st edition US
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Janelle Collins
Janelle Collins marked it as to-read
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Kristina Moses
Kristina Moses marked it as to-read
Nov 28, 2014
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