Wild Water by Jan Ruth
Writing contemporary family drama is probably the most difficult genre in which to achieve success, so it was a pleasure to find myself instantly immersed in the ever increasing disasters of Jack, the unlikely hero of “Wild Water.” Successful estate agents from the wealthiest part of Cheshire don’t come to mind as empathetic characters, but Jack works hard, cares about his family and has sufficient stress to justify his intermittent smoking habit. His faithless wife Patsy, however, is difficult to like. Her parental skills leave much to be desired and she always seems to be in search of better things.
And then the reader meets Anna, a quiet, artistic lady from Jack’s past who is trying to survive in an old, crumbling house in North Wales, by taking in guests. Like Jack, she has a teenage son, but her life is also complicated. She is warm, likeable and calm, in total contrast to workaholic, impulsive Jack. Their lives are entwined by Jack’s large complex family and ever more momentous events.
It is the strong characterisation which make “Wild Water” such an enjoyable read. Jack’s children, his mother Isabel and especially his brother Danny are all given clearly identifiable personalities and the possibility of new stories to follow. Some of their names, such as Chelsey, are stereotypical and the break-up of a family is almost normal these days but the twists and turns of the plot combined with the emotional response this invoked kept me turning the pages avidly.
Combining the beautiful description of the Welsh countryside with a roller-coaster storyline makes “Wild Water,” an ideal holiday read and I can’t wait to read the follow up, “Dark Water.”