Deeper Water



The secret things I knew about my mum, and the things that everyone knew, had played in my mind for some time, since I was real little, I guess. When I was small, all around me seemed to flow, gentle and sweet like the quiet edge of the creek. Then my brothers grew too large to be hemmed in, and Sophie met a bloke, moved out and had babies, and things became harder. The older I got the louder those secret things inside me became, all those knowns and unknowns, until – apart from Anja – I’d rather talk to animals than people.

Innocent and unworldly, Mema is still living at home with her mother on a remote, lush hinterland property. It is a small, confined, simple sort of life, and Mema is content with it. One day, during a heavy downpour, Mema saves a stranger from a raging creek. She takes him into her family home, where, marooned by rising floods, he has to stay until the waters recede. His sudden presence is unsettling—for Mema, her mother and her wild friend Anja—but slowly he opens the door to a new world of beckoning possibilities that threaten to sweep Mema into the deep.

‘She takes us to a place of the strangest innocence and lovingness … And she takes us to a physical place that’s quite her own, and when you go to her country – the lush but uneasy country inland from Byron Bay – you recognise at once that she’s the voice of it, the country speaks in her voice, though the captivating wise gentleness of that voice belongs only to Jessie.’ Peter Bishop

Out now!

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Reviews of Deeper Water:

“What rang most true in Jessie Cole’s Deeper Water was the immense yearning of a young soul – not for the world outside, but for an understanding of herself and of what it means to belong somewhere. Cole’s heroine, Mema, doesn’t feel the pull of someplace else but is firmly rooted in the land she’s never left, and she swells and grows along with its rhythms. What is essentially a coming-of-age tale and a love story of sorts feels unpredictable, untethered and wild …

Mema’s narrative voice is quiet and measured, never giving very much away but at the same time revealing the immense depth and intensity of her feelings that sit just below the surface. Her longing is mysterious, and Cole’s descriptive prose imbues it with the gloriously sensual anticipation of a bud about to burst into bloom. A compelling and satisfying read; its sensuality and earthiness give a mythical quality to the regional Australian landscape.”

Amy Veluta, Readings

“With its simple yet elegant prose, and quiet yet deeply felt emotion, Deeper Water is a mesmerising story about a young woman’s awakening to the possibilities of love and life.”

Shelleyrae, Book’d Out

“Cole creates vivid scenes of lush farmland and teases out interesting and rich characters with an impressive economy of language … Deeper Water is another fine and elegantly written novel.”

Portia Lindsay, Books + Publishing

Rarely does a book get under your skin to a point where you feel you are the main character. Such is this beguiling immersion in the mind of Mema, a young woman who knows no other place than the remote, forested corner of northern New South Wales where she lives with a mother who spurns society and a best friend damaged by domestic violence. But even a creek in full flood can’t hold the world at bay, and when Mema saves a stranger trapped in his car it comes surging in, altering the course of their tranquil lives. Cole’s characters are, each one, perfectly drawn examples of flawed and fragile humans, and she evokes the landscape in which she herself grew up and still lives with the tender familiarity of a child for its mother. This is a softly spoken coming-of-age tale that deserves the label tour de force.

North & South Magazine