Highly Commended in the Society of Women Writers 2020 Book Awards
“What if the world I have seen for the years of my life was shown to be an illusion? Would I discard the solid illusions of a lifetime in favour of the truth?”
When a young, unidentified woman is pulled alive and well from Sydney Harbour in 2013, the links to another woman – found in similar circumstances forty years earlier – present psychiatrist Kathryn Brookley with a terrible decision as the events of the present and past begin to mirror each other and the gap between truth and illusion shrinks. When the young woman goes further and declares that she has lived continuously since coming to ‘understanding’ in the 14th century, her vivid accounts of life, love, childbirth, and loss in the Middle Ages seem so authentic that they test Kathryn’s scientific objectivity to the limit. As Kathryn delves she discovers that she is not the only one whose habitual assumptions about life have been torn asunder by an apparent experience of the miraculous in connection with the mystery woman. But it is the emotional, spiritual and mystical insights that emerge from the connection of all the facets of this mystery that affect Kathryn and others most profoundly, reflecting the commonality of human experience across the ages and the deep yearnings within all of us.
Grasping at Water is a marvellous mix of mystery, history and discovery that will prompt you to wonder about the way you see life.
Here’s what some reviewers have said about Grasping at Water:
Robyn Cadwallader, author of The Anchoress and Book of Colours
‘In this intriguing and original mystery, Bendon’s fine, nuanced understanding of medieval spirituality is woven deftly into the fabric of our contemporary world and concerns.’
‘Carmel Bendon’s superb novel takes the reader from the most intriguing premise into a world of mysterious possibility … a world where nothing can ever be certain. This is a tremendously playful and richly poetic book that speaks to the storyteller inside all of us.’Walter Mason, author of Destination Saigon & Destination Cambodia
‘Grasping at Water beguiles with its strong sense of mystery, history, character and place … as truth morphs into a voyage of self-discovery.’Michele Seminara, Verity La
‘Finely written historical mysticism entwined with a modern mystery, Carmel Bendon’s stunning debut sizzles with originality and intrigue. Grasping at Water is the thinking-person’s thriller.’Amanda Hickey, Journalist & Documentary Filmmaker
Available for purchase in hard copy from
- Selected bookshops including Abbey’s Bookshop, 131 York St., Sydney
and in e-copy from