Grasping at Water

(3 customer reviews)

When a young, unidentified woman is pulled alive and well from Sydney Harbour in 2013, the connections 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 relation to the mystery woman. But it is the emotional, spiritual and mystical insights that emerge from the linking 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.

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Book Details

Weight 381 g
Dimensions 229 × 152 mm

246 pages






Mystery, Visionary & Metaphysical

Release date

18 September 2018




Odyssey Books

About The Author

Carmel Bendon

Carmel Bendon

When Carmel Bendon isn’t writing she’s lecturing at university or giving talks to general audiences on “all things medieval”. With a PhD in Medieval Literature and Culture she has published in academic journals and authored the successful non-fiction book Mysticism and Space. At home in Sydney she lives with her husband, a faithful dog, and a wild garden. She is the proud mother of three adult daughters. Grasping at Water is her first novel.

3 reviews for Grasping at Water

  1. Cathy Davidson

    At first I chose this book because I liked the cover and the story’s description. But as I read it, I became caught up in the really interesting and unusual world and situations it presented. The story moved from modern day Sydney to Norwich of 14th century and back again. A strange woman, found in Sydney Harbour, speaks about herself in tales of her life and this leads other characters to tell their own often surprising, often very sad, sometimes funny tales. Everything comes together in an ending that I found very moving.

  2. Patrick

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading Grasping at Water. For me, it went beyond what seemed a typical mystery and more a life’s journey.
    It’s the debut novel of Carmel Bendon and is a story that revolves around the discovery of a woman found floating in Sydney Harbour. However, she is no ordinary woman and almost immediately the mystery begins…..Who is she? How did she get there? How has she managed to stay alive? And how does she know intimate details about the book’s other characters?
    As the story unfolds we find she is named Sophia and she challenges people’s perception of the world and their role in it through a series of stories based on medieval “flashbacks” and mystic philosophies.
    These flashbacks and philosophies are to me the essence of the book. They are quite profound and I found them quite emotionally moving. The author’s expertise is evident here and the spiritual journey she takes us on is actually relevant in today’s troubled times.
    The overall style and narration of the book is easy to read which makes it even more interesting when it comes to the deeper sections of the novel.
    Overall a great book and I’ll re-read regularly.

  3. Rachel

    Carmel Bendon’s debut novel interweaves the stories of psychiatrist Katherine, retired nun Margery and the mysterious Sophia, a young woman whose origins are clouded by questions. As Sophia’s influence on the lives of all those she meets grows ever-greater, Katherine comes to question everything she understands about the world. A gently paced story, Grasping at Water is very much in the tradition of novels that impart spiritual lessons, such as The Celestine Prophecy. The characters are drawn with warmth and the insights into the lives of medieval female mystics are fascinating.

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