“The Woman in the Water” Excerpt (#amreading #bookreview)

I’ve recently discovered a fascinating psychological suspense author Cathryn Grant. She makes some interesting insights into the human psyche through her characters. And I love her writing (although she may use “shoved” a bit too often – lol).

This passage from The Woman in the Water (the second in a series) especially spoke to me. Maybe because right before Covid, we had downsized and the smallness is really getting to me, especially now that we’re both working at home full-time. But I’m not as comfortable leaving the house, pushing through crowds and being around people as much as before Covid.

The Woman in the Water
by Cathryn Grant

“A large home provides a chance to lock yourself away from the chaos. Inside your house, surrounded by a decent-sized piece of property, there aren’t any panhandlers or solicitors. There aren’t any madmen ranting extreme political views, unless you choose to turn on the TV. You don’t have to smell loathsome perfume and cologne, or hear music that rips the nerves right out through your skin. There aren’t any people talking in loud voices, drowning out your own thoughts or quiet conversation with your dinner companion. There’s no litter and filthy sidewalks, no dog shit and broken glass, no threats to your physical safety.

All of those things are more or less first-world problems but that doesn’t lessen my aversion to them. With a quiet, well-secured, spacious home, you encounter the world on your timetable, your terms. Instead of having humanity shoved down your throat, you can brush up against it as you please, taking small sips. Humanity is like a martini—nice if sipped slowly, knocks you on your ass if you absorb too much too fast.

The world is a crowded place. It’s overrun with traffic and barking dogs, unimaginative strip malls with unkempt facades, cars sitting in front yards, screaming children, and unwanted odors.

But a beautiful home isn’t just about what you want to avoid.

Human beings were meant to possess space and beauty. We feel that in our souls.

Sure the crush of people going to a baseball game has a certain excitement—the sheer mass of humanity with all their thoughts moving in a similar vein. There’s energy and connectedness. The crowds surging through Times Square or down Bourbon Street, a giddy appreciation for the variety of living souls and the noise of conversation—a thousand minds verbalizing their thoughts, small bites of the things they have to say caught as you pass by, usually forgotten, sometimes remembered as clearly as if they were speaking directly to you.

But overload causes frayed nerves. Lack of control over your environment leads to despair.

When there’s adequate space, breathing becomes relaxed and comfortable. You don’t feel the crush of your possessions piled on top of each other, towering over you, moving closer as if they want to swallow you alive. There’s room for closets filled with shelves and cabinets and drawers. When the space is too small and all your things are exposed, it begins to feel as if insects have invaded your home. You hear their jaws grinding as they move ever closer. Your skin crawls, and your limbs twitch with a frantic desire to escape the sense of confinement.

Despite the thrill of crowds at sporting events and inside bars and clubs, the human body needs space like it needs water and food. Standing in a park or at the peak of a mountain gives a feeling of calm and freedom. A large house does the same thing. A spacious bed where you can stretch out, even when someone is lying beside you, even a tall man who takes up a lot of room with his height and the heft of his muscle. A shower large enough for two, and a long counter with an enormous mirror where you can dry your hair and put on makeup without tripping over each other, a mascara wand shoved in your eye.”