Pond is a series of short stories from the perspective of an unnamed young woman whose been led to a life of solitude in a rural stone house, for reasons we never learn. The short stories focus on the woman’s random and unhinged thoughts, with the appeal being how naturally thought-like the passages are presented. In Pond, you’re not being narrated to, you’re taking a step inside the mind of a lonely woman bound by her thoughts.
This opens the door to a lot of brilliantly put together writing that can quickly go over your head if you don’t pay attention. Much of the delight in this book is piecing together the details that are not divulged to the reader. Many of the woman’s thoughts are directed at completely mundane things, like the placement of fruits inside a fruit bowl and the broken dial on her mini-oven.
What interested me about the book is how these completely mundane thoughts are articulated. Being a graduate in literature, Claire-Louise’s writing style is absolutely beautiful. There were several occasions where I found myself looking up words in a dictionary just to obtain the full context of her word choices. Some may be put off by this, but I commend any book that is able to add new words to my vocabulary. While the subject matter in Pond isn’t always interesting, the way in which it is described allowed me to appreciate the reading experience.
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As someone who is used to reading linear stories, Pond wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. It was also the type of book I would have liked to have read over a longer period than a month as these stories need time to marinate. As you get closer to the final stories, you may begin to feel as though some type of revelation is inbound that ties all the stories together. I believe that this could have simply just been my mind wishing for a meaningful conclusion that ties all stories together in a hidden plot. After reading however, I was satisfied with the books lack of linearity, as that was never truly the intention. Ultimately, I should have left all expectations at the front door before delving into Pond. While Pond may not be best suited to readers like me, it will appease many others who enjoy outside-of-the box writing that showcases phenomenal use of English language.
Claire-Louse Bennett says herself, “Pond is the way it is.” This is a book you dive into with no expectations and simply appreciate it for what it is. It’s the kind of book that readers will be split over; and will mean something different to whoever you ask. If Pond didn’t come as a recommendation, it wouldn’t have been a first choice read for me; but by no means can I say it’s not worthy of a read. Ultimately I believe I would have enjoyed this book much more if I had the chance to read it at my own pace. Pond is not a good book club read, but it’s certainly a magical reading experience.