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Waterlily is neither a documentary, a novel, nor a diary. It is something in between - the record of a year of one woman's life spent in the mountain country of New South Wales. This single years reaches into the past and stretches into the future. The narrator is sharing with the reader. She writes, "it is now clear to me it is all coming and going, and then being alone and then more visitors and cooking and cups of tea and talking and picnics and writing in between. Something like that." Waterlily combines delicate perceptions with robust humour.


First published January 1, 1987

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About the author

Kate Llewellyn

26 books21 followers
Kate Llewellyn is the author of nineteen books, including the bestselling The Waterlily: A Blue Mountains Journal and Playing With Water: A Story of a Garden. A distinguished Australian poet, she has published six books of poetry and is the co-editor of The Penguin Book of Australian Women Poets. Her travel books include Lilies, Feathers & Frangipani on the Cook Islands and New Zealand; Angels and Dark Madonnas on India and Italy; and Gorillas, Tea & Coffee: An African Sketchbook. Her books The Floral Mother & Other Essays, The Waterlily and Playing With Water have been made into talking books

She is one of Australia’s bestselling authors...

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5 stars
27 (46%)
4 stars
18 (31%)
3 stars
12 (20%)
2 stars
1 (1%)
1 star
0 (0%)
Displaying 1 - 12 of 12 reviews
Profile Image for Mandy Partridge.
Author 5 books79 followers
February 1, 2023
I admire Kate Llewellyn's poetry. This book, Waterlily, examines the way we lie to ourselves to excuse our partner's bad behaviour, and sado-masochistic relationships. The reader knows that the central relationship with Mr Waterlily is f**ked, as soon as they read the character name. We suspect he's married, but professional players don't ever commit or marry, he just keeps a few women strung along to play off against each other. As a reader, I kept urging the protagonist to have some self respect and dump the a***hole. But Llewelyn wrote this in the days before the internet, when writers were still typing and mailing work to publishers, so there was no internet dating to find a better boyfriend.
I cheered when the protagonist did dump him, and cringed when they got back together. Why do women put up with such substandard behaviour? Traditional relationships can be egalitarian, and women don't have to put up with lying cheats, just because it's better than being alone. It's not, it's better to be alone, than to torture yourself like that. The protagonist clearly has better friendships with her neighbours, other writers and her house-mate, than with that creep. Her friends and adult children can see he's a jerk and warn her off.
It's not poly-amory if only one partner does it, it's just cheating and mind games.
Ostensibly about plants, 'Waterlily' explores the depths to which some women plunge in order to find a little affection.
Profile Image for Rosemary Atwell.
354 reviews19 followers
November 21, 2018
Poet Kate Llewellyn’s twelve-month journal of gardening and writing in her Blue Mountains home has long been a favourite of mine, but I wanted to read it one more time before letting it go.

It seemed a little more self-indulgent and desperate this time around - In the past it felt more like one of those more old-fashioned ‘women’s books’ that were always a delight to read. But this time I saw behind the facade and really empathised with a writer’s life - her need to keep going, ‘putting things in envelopes’, dealing with rejection slips, endless bills and still rushing off to buy new plants for the garden as soon as she receives an unexpected windfall.

This is still a joyous read of friendship and love of nature, but also a sad one of love going wrong and the fear of growing old and unneeded. Her passion for the Blue Mountains is truly glorious and her writing is rich and generous. A fine woman that I would love to call a friend.
11 reviews6 followers
February 9, 2010
Where do I begin in reviewing this truly astoundingly beautiful book! I am in love with Kate Llwellyn's writing. If I could I would marry her writing. She captures the nuances of life with such poetic elegance that reading it is like eating your favorite dessert. I also love Leura, so since this is a story of her life in Leura, as you read it you feel you are there - you go with her on her bushwalks, to the cafes, you sit in front of the fire and share tea with her. Somehow she blends melencholy with ardent joy. She's a poet and makes you realise that at the heart of life is poetry. Amen.
Profile Image for Anne Fenn.
708 reviews8 followers
October 5, 2019
The first in the author’s garden books. Not my favourite, too much mooning around longing for Mr Waterlily. Only thing he was good for was weeding. Lots of garden planting, she’s taking off in her life of beloved gardens now.
Profile Image for Margaret Williams.
230 reviews2 followers
September 18, 2014
A long time favourite calling out for a re-read especially now that I'm living in the Blue Mountains!
Profile Image for Mousy Brown.
100 reviews2 followers
June 26, 2015
I think I loved this book but I can't quite decide why...
It's a funny ramble through a year in the authors life in a country I've never visited, talking about people I don't know (even though I did feel I'd walked in half way through a conversation on many occasions), describing gardening with plants I'll never be able to plant and talking about relationships and situations I have no connection with...and yet I devoured it in a few days and found it strangely relaxing and calming to read.
Maybe it's the diary format which I am coming to realise is my favourite genre...maybe I just enjoyed this peek into someone's life the other side of the world...maybe it was the authors honesty...
I am definitely tempted to read her other books and I think I would recommend this one...the only caveat would be her apparent love of the simile, which after a while I found myself waiting for in every line...but maybe that's just me being picky!
Profile Image for Skyler.
398 reviews
January 7, 2015
I loved this so much that I googled to find out more and learned it is not entirely a journal. It is sort of a novel. I felt flummoxed by that. I want it to be a journal, darn it. Still five stars. Have purchased three more of her books. Two out of three were quite pricey and I am sure they will be worth it. Seems they have not been published in the states.

I would love to hear what others think about whether it is a journal or a novel or both.
Profile Image for Linda.
212 reviews4 followers
June 26, 2016
Poignant, joyous and beautiful. I love that poet Kate Llewellyn would let one look into her life with such detail - the happy times, the truly personal times and the sad times. The descriptions of her love/hate relationship with her garden are truly captivating.
Profile Image for Terese.
178 reviews4 followers
July 24, 2015
Picked this up for 50 cents at an op shop in Sloalhaven Heads. Love these sort of discoveries, I hadn't heard of her before. It's amazing - gardening, food, poetry and family. Her writing is lyrical. Kate, the lead is trying to start a new life and end an on-off affair with Mr Waterlily. It's written as a journal, not sure how much is biographical?! Coincidentally the Fourth book in the series has just been published. Highly recommended
Profile Image for Meg Dunley.
119 reviews23 followers
October 11, 2012
A beautiful poetic journal of Kate's first year in the Blue Mountains. I really enjoyed her prosaic writing about the garden and her writing. It was very fresh and honest, and interlaced with poetry. I am looking forward to reading the next one, 'Dear You'.
Profile Image for Vicki.
42 reviews2 followers
June 2, 2010
this is another favourite of mine. brilliant writing. loved it so much i visited her home town.
Profile Image for Anna.
446 reviews6 followers
June 20, 2016
This is a wonderful book to me. Probably as it is set in Leura. I now discover it is the first of a trilogy, the others being Dear You and The Mountain. I will certainly seek these out.
Displaying 1 - 12 of 12 reviews

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