Book Review: The Water Diviner, by Andrew Anastasios and Meaghan Wilson-Anastasios

Available in bookstores nationwide.

cv_the_water_divinerThis book has been released to coincide with the release of the movie by the same name. It is not the book that the movie is based on, but rather unusually, this book came after the movie, and is based directly on the script. I was interested in how this would pan out in terms of a quality book and was not at all disappointed. I have never read a script, but at times, this book reads as I imagine a script might. The narrator is direct and descriptive in the manner one assumes a movie director might be. Especially when the main characters are being introduced and the scenes are set. For example, when we first meet one of the central characters, Ayshe, this is how she is introduced:

“Ayshe swings a wicker carpet beater in a fury. Decades of accumulated dirt explode in smoky clouds from the weathered Baluch carpet, which is suspended over a clothesline in the hotel courtyard. She whacks at it with impotent rage, tears of frustration cutting runnels through the dust that has settled on her cheeks. Finally, she steps back from the rug, her anger beginning to abate.”

This is achieved in part because the author of the book was in fact one of the scriptwriters. I think this immediacy of storytelling, and detailed description of the settings really works. I hope it works as well in the movie, which I am keen to see. You may have seen the trailers, or indeed, the movie: it’s about an Australian man, Connor played by Russel Crowe, who fuelled with grief travels to Gallipoli to find his sons who have not returned from the World War I. Connor is a successful water diviner who has faith that his ability to find water beneath the dry Australian hinterland will help him find his sons amid the fields of slain young men in Turkey.

Connor faces his own demons, and has to win a battle with those, whilst at the same time overcoming his own perception of the Turks as the enemy. This book is inspired by a true story and casts a different perspective on the horrid events where our own ANZAC troops perished. It’s a balanced account, that reveals the personal loss and cultural legacy that two peripheral players in World War I faced. The impact of such devastation on countries that had no quarrel with each other, yet they killed each other’s sons, cannot be overstated.

This is a well-crafted and memorable story. And one that needed to be told.

Reviewed by Gillian Torckler

The Water Diviner
by Andrew Anastasios and Meaghan Wilson-Anastasios
Published by Pan Australia
ISBN 9781743534281

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