Holly's Reviews > Pond

Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett
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bookshelves: 2016-reads

I'm at a loss to compose a review that really captures what I felt/thought about this novel. All I can say is that this was sort of unsettling and ambiguous, with lengthy natural descriptions by a narrator who seemed a little unhinged and/or deeply sad. There is a tone of loss and unspoken tragedy in her narrator's musings: she seems to be talking around the tragedy, if that is what it is, by discussing cooking and gardening, sex, quotidian life. It's quite mesmerizing.

Also: the unnamed novel the narrator talks about at great length (like a sort of rambling Goodreads "review" embedded within this novel) is Marlen Haushofer's The Wall: a quiet, eerie, bleak account of the presumed last woman left alive after nuclear holocaust, held behind a transparent but impenetrable "wall" on a farm with her dog (a dog that I had remembered being a cat, just like Bennett's narrator did!) while she and the animals, basically, starve to death. I recognized it immediately when Bennett's narrator began describing it - when I discovered it in a used bookshop where I was working in the mid-1990s I thought it was one of the most depressing stories I'd ever read. The narrator of Pond gives this dark novel to a troubled friend to read, which I would not do - in fact refused to do when my depressed co-worker asked to borrow my copy.
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Reading Progress

August 17, 2016 – Started Reading
August 17, 2016 – Shelved
August 18, 2016 – Shelved as: 2016-reads
August 18, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by JK (new) - rated it 4 stars

JK Thomas Holly, I agree with your review. The narrator is a mad woman "locked in" her mind/wall and Bennett lets us know what that feels like. Her tragedy is life-long with no love from her family and a sense of no belonging. The narrator may even have been responsible for her brother's death. The brilliance of this work of fiction is making readers go along with the madness to the bitter end, even against our will. Another reviewer said "you can't unread this book." I agree.

Holly Thanks. You've put it better than I did - I haven't gotten around to reading other reviews and wasn't sure I was reading it "right." (But regarding the brother's death: yes, I actually re-read the first little chapter after I finished, to think about that. Though it's not a mystery novel there are small clues and reveals throughout, for a careful reader. I probably read it too fast.)

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