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The Well

3.10  ·  Rating details ·  2,172 ratings  ·  395 reviews
From the winner of the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, a brilliantly haunting and suspenseful debut set in modern-day Britain where water is running out everywhere except at The Well; the farm of one seemingly ordinary family whose mysterious good fortune leads to suspicion, chaos, and ultimately a shocking act of violence.

Ruth Ardingly has just been released from prison to
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published May 19th 2015 by Atria Books (first published February 19th 2015)
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Average rating 3.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,172 ratings  ·  395 reviews

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Nov 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: free-from-work
so, obviously, you should listen to blair before you listen to me. her glowing review is the review i wish i'd written for the reading experience i wish i'd had.

i didn't dislike this book, but i wasn't able to get past my frustration at the narrowness of the scope of the story. it takes place in england, on an isolated piece of property deep in the countryside known as "the well" which ruth ardingly and her husband mark purchase after fleeing a scandal in london. their plan was to start over in
When I get a new book, I always read the first couple of pages straight away. This is not because I have any intention of actually reading the book in full; it's just a habit (and, on Kindle, I do it to get rid of those 'new' badges that sit next to the titles if I don't). When I received the electronic ARC of Catherine Chanter's debut novel, The Well, I scanned the opening, as I routinely do - but that was all it took for me to be completely and utterly hooked. By that night, I was almost a thi ...more
Oct 20, 2015 rated it it was ok

I'm not sure this book should be categorized as a mystery, but there is a death to be solved - so it more or less fits into the genre.

The story: Ruth and Mark Ardingly are looking to get out of London for two major reasons. Mark, a lawyer, has a damaged reputation because he was accused - though exonerated - of looking at child pornography; and Mark always dreamed of farming. So the Ardinglys purchase a property called The Well on a hilltop in the English countryside.

Oddly (to say the least) The
Diane S ☔
Sep 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm not going to rehash the plot because the description on the book page is a very good one. I'm just going to write what I thought of the book. When I first started this it seemed a bit wordy, though I was interested to see where this was going and of course to find out who really killed Lucien, her five year old grandson. It soon became apparent that this is a character study of Ruth mainly but of others too, how they reacted to the circumstances. How the fact that rain only fell in one place ...more
Feb 26, 2015 rated it liked it
I am going to start by saying that I really like the story told in this book. Set during a time when England has not seen any rain for two years and is literally drying up in a society burdened by ever increasing price rises and job losses as a result, Ruth lives at The Well, an oasis in the desert. Rain falls nightly at The Well, in fact it is the only place in England that ever sees any rain and nobody knows why. They are certainly jealous and Ruth is accused of witchcraft.

We come to the story
Yzabel Ginsberg
(I got a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.)

Another one for which I can't decide on a rating. Because I did like it, but I wasn't awed, and I was torn between moments of beautiful writing, and moments when said writing seemed to be here just to delay the outcome. The feeling was definitely weird.

I liked the tense, oppressive atmosphere of The Well: a place that looked like some kind of Promised Land in the middle of the Waste Land, yet also a tainted paradise, one that cou
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
I would like to thank NetGalley and Atria for giving me the opportunity to read this book.

I don't know what it was specifically but this book just wasn't for me. I didn't like too much about it. The only characters I really cared for was the poor little boy Lucien.

This book has gotten so many 5 star reviews so I'm sure it's good to a lot of people and a lot more people will love it, but I just could not get into it at all. I did like the beginning and thought it was going to be good, then it j
Mattia Ravasi
Mar 16, 2016 rated it liked it
If you ever feel like "Hey today I'm a bit too happy I think, I should read a bleak semi-dystopic/semi-apocalyptic novel streaked with child abuse, fucked-up lives and poetical prose," I'd say, Hey man, you should probably seek professional help, but if you don't, The Well by Catherine Chanter is the book for you.

If the two words "poetical prose" don't put you off (and if you ask me, they should), this is actually a great book. It's a bit like The Handmaid's Tale meet The Road meet the Colour Ou
Joy Finlayson
Mar 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
I had been looking forward to reading The Well for some time, but sadly it was let down by its plot. We find the protagonist at The Well, where she is on house arrest after being released from prison for a murder she says she didn't commit. This is a gripping enough premise in itself, but both Ruth and her husband were thoroughly unlikely. The cultish aspect could have been considered in more depth, but it was left to provide a dull undercurrent to a story that didn't get very far. Sadly, the en ...more
Liz Barnsley
Beautifully written cross genre novel with an intriguing premise. Would have been 4 stars except that I found it too predictable as to outcome. However it was gorgeous to read. Enjoyed it.

It took me a while to get into this book and, to be utterly honest, to stay with it.

First of all, I was confused because I had read in the synopsis our main character was viewed either as a witch or a saviour, so for some reason I thought the story took place long ago. Then I started seeing references to all sorts of current things, and when Ruth's narrative goes back in time I realized that her world started out just as our own and it can be considered pr
Feb 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Elsewhere, people were squeezing the last six months into small spaces: bicycles onto the backs of campervans, mattresses onto the roofs of cars, sleeping bags into recycled supermarket carriers, saucepans stacked one into another like Russian dolls, inflatable water carriers deflated. Set to music it would have been a grand chorus scene in an opera, with all the crowd and the minor parts working in unison and it seemed as though any minute they would all turn to face front and burst into song ...more
David Reviews
Feb 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing

I found the atmosphere of The Well to be dark and unsettling. The book begins with Ruth under house arrest in her own home, which is known as The Well. She is guilty of something, but of what, it’s all a bit unclear and maybe she is guilty of more than we know. The story is narrated by Ruth drifting from the present to her unhappy and confused recent past. She, like most of the characters we meet, isn’t wholly reliable. I didn’t really trust her from the start, but then again none of the charact
Feb 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
I received this ARC through Bookbrowse.
This book took me almost a month to read, not because I didn't have time to read it, but because it was for me a difficult story to follow. Most British books I have no problem but this one took me too long to finish, and I don't really know why.
I read some of the other reviews, and it seems I am in the minority. Most reviews praised the book for being top-notched and the reasons why, but I disagreed with them. It's probably me and not the book.
The bottom l
Lisa Edison
It was just ok. It was slow, and the "mystery" wasn't much of a mystery. The writing was lyrical and poetic, so it was easy to get lost in the prose, but the story didn't go anywhere. More of a character study, and that part was interesting (but slow), so I'd say this book was just ok. ...more
Another book group read, The Well had an interesting premise and plenty of food for thought but boy did it waffle on in parts and I’ll admit to skim reading some of the middle. Previously a short story writer, some of Catherine’s prose is beautiful but I think it needed to be much more tightly edited.

It does raise the interesting question whether to give up your home for the greater good or hang onto it for your own survival. We’d all like to think we would be generous in this situation but what
Kelly Gunderman
Jan 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley-reads
I received an e-book copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is a beautifully written book about a couple who are moving to a gorgeous plot of land in the countryside, trying to escape some of the husband's allegations and how difficult of a time they are having living in the area that they used to live in. They are trying to start over, and they purchase this land, known as The Well. The catch? The Well is the only place where it still rains.
Jan 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Recently one of the book sites I follow asked when the last time was that I knew from the first page that I was going to love a book. This was the book. And it never disappointed me at any time. To me, this is what great literature is all about. Each and every chapter grabbed my heart and wouldn’t let go.

The book centers around The Well, which is a plot of land recently purchased by a middle-aged couple who are trying to make a new start in life. This takes place during a period when there has
Diana Iozzia
"The Well" by Catherine Chanter was a book I found myself drawn to. The description and reviews of the book piqued my interest. The buzzwords that intrigued me were: Big Brother, religious cult, dystopian, surveillance. We basically received none of these, sadly.

The book details the life of Ruth, who had just been released from prison. She was convicted for the murder of a child and causing a fire. We see her in the present, putting back the pieces of her life and seemingly trying to atone for
Maya Panika
Jan 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Well is a truly entrancing read. Once begun, I couldn't let it go. I read it in three evenings. It spoiled more than one night's sleep - but not because of the plot, because the plot is rather weak; I found most of it more than a bit hard to believe. The premise is borderline supernatural, though nothing else in Chanter's semi-dystopian world is, but the curious anomaly of the rain falling in one small spot in the midst of a heinous drought is never explained or even the cause of much practi ...more
May 19, 2015 rated it liked it
The Well was an interesting story that really circles around the death of a little boy. The Well is a farm where it rains abundantly while the rest of England is in a severe drought. Ruth and her husband Mark fall in love with the place, until it starts taking a toll on their marriage, until the strange people start showing up to worship the water, until Sister Amelia comes to solicit Ruth to join her group, The Sisters of the Rose. They are convinced that Ruth is the Rose of Jericho incarnate, ...more
Feb 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
The narrative structure of The Well is well-constructed to provide the reader the sense of isolation and desperation for social connection while imprisoned - both voluntarily and involuntarily - in relative paradise. However, I struggled with certain aspects of the protagonist's journey because I didn't find all of her choices believable. I do think the cult aspect of the plot is a realistic one given the setting and circumstances, but I had a hard time believing Ruth's absorption. (I actually t ...more
Jan 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

I really enjoyed this story I just felt like the author used a few too many words to tell it. For the most part the writing is beautiful and the story is haunting and original it just bogged down in places. Overall an enjoyable and worthwhile read.

ARC from publisher.
Dec 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, fiction
Within the first few pages you become aware that this isn't quite our world. We're introduced to a character called Ruth who has been returned to house arrest at The Well, though we don't know what she's done or why she's been released, or even how different this world is. All we know is that there's a terrible drought, and that for some reason The Well is somehow exempt, the only place where the water table and land are replenished by rainfall, the only place where grass is green, flowers still ...more
Lolly K Dandeneau
Mar 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a strange story. Ruth and Mark Ardingly have left London behind to live in their version of utopia, living on the Well. The locals begin to resent them as the Well is the only place that isn't suffering the drought. The crops are plentiful and the rain falls on their land while everyone else is dry. Right away the reader can understand the bitterness of the locals. Surely the newcomers must be doing something nefarious to be the only ones who aren't losing everything. When Ruth's daught ...more
Renita D'Silva
Oct 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Beautifully written. Loved this hypnotic, evocative book.
The tags make it sound like a thriller, but I hesitate to label it that. It's an odd mix of the psychological destruction of a womans mind and relationship and the who-dunnit of the death of a child. Sometimes the rather descriptive prose made me lose my patience and will admit to skip ahead in the text at quite a few times.
It's also chock-full of red herrings. Sometimes I even wonder if some of them are red herrings of a red herring. To say something positive about it is that you aren't sure o
Lucy Perry
Religious cults, murder, house arrest and strange weather phenomena: this synopsis gives it the making of a dystopian or fantasy novel but you’ll have to make your own mind up about whether it actually ticks either of those boxes. In my opinion this dark and captivating tale doesn’t fit any genre stereotypes and stands completely alone.

The story starts with Ruth who is placed under house arrest at ‘The Well’, her country home and the only place in the UK that still receives rainfall and therefor
I received an ARC of this novel courtesy of the publishers in exchange for an honest review. This review in its entirety was originally posted at

The Well was a curious novel, the unravelling of the story slow and setting up Ruth’s story through memories and dealing with the present time (why was she under house arrest? Why did Mark lose his job? What happened to Lucien exactly?). It’s hard to explain my feelings about this novel, but it
Kristi Richardson

“I will pray about it, Ruth. I can’t promise you more than that.”
Pray for as long as you like, I thought. But Google for longer.

I was gifted this book as part of the Goodreads First reads program for an honest review.

This is the story of a family, a mystery and a worldwide drought. The only place it’s still raining is the farm Ruth and Mark bought called the Well. Their neighbors are suspicious of them and won’t trust them. Soon the entire world knows about the Well and the miraculous rain that
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Catherine Chanter is a teacher, poet, and short story writer. She is the winner of the Yeovil Poetry Prize and the Lucy Cavendish Prize awarded by Cambridge University. She grew up in the West Country before attending Oxford.

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“The Well has won me back. Tonight will be my first night under house arrest.” 1 likes
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