The Well

The Well

When Ruth Ardingly and her family first drive up from London in their grime-encrusted car and view The Well, they are enchanted by a jewel of a place, a farm that appears to offer everything the family are searching for. An opportunity for Ruth. An escape for Mark. A home for their grandson Lucien.

But The Well’s unique glory comes at a terrible price. Ruth becomes increasingly isolated as she struggles to explain why her land flourishes whilst her neighbours’ produce withers and dies. As The Well envelopes them, her paradise becomes a prison, Mark’s dream a recurring nightmare, and Lucien’s playground a grave.


From the author: , The Independent, The Telegraph – so many reviewers and readers identified what The Chicago Tribune called the ‘eco-fable’ thread running through The Well.  I regularly do an online author Q&A session with the Literature students at the University of Polynesia who have The Well on their curriculum:  that is when I understand that in the six years since publication, the story has moved from climate change fable for some to harsh reality for others.

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Some Reviews

The Guardian (Observer):   As love and water drain out of characters’ lives, language swells in to tell a frightening and forceful story about what sustains and nourishes us, what keeps us well.”

The Telegraph: “A markedly assured new voice – its story and narrative voice will put many readers under a deliciously shivery spell”

Daily Mail:  “This story ripples with mystery and intrigue from the first page….”

From ‘The Bookseller’“The quest to find the identity of Lucian’s murderer is a compelling reason to read on but it is the emotional drama which hooks the reader in this beautifully written fable for a modern age

Elle Magazine THe Well:  in a futuristic, Big Brother-like society, water is running out everywhere, except at The Well.   Suspense building supernatural undercurrents charge this haunting novel about ordinary people caught in extra-ordinary situations.

Richard & Judy:  “The Well reminds me of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale – praise indeed, as far as I’m concerned.”  

Winner of the Lucy Cavendish Prize, 2013

A Richard and Judy Book Club Pick Autumn 2015

Long listed for the CWA John Creasy (New Blood) Dagger 2015. It is published in the UK by Canongate and has been translated into twelve languages.

Find out more about the thinking and research which underpins The Well here

There has not been rain, inspired by The Well, by Catherine Chanter.

One more step along the road I go, by The Bookshop Band. Inspired by Catherine Chanter’s The Well.

The Well hardback cover


The Well was one of the most talked about books at the International Frankfurt Book Fair in 2013.  It was purchased before the Fair for the UK by Editorial Director, Louisa Joyner and Jamie Byng at Canongate and Michael Heyward at Text in Australia and then swiftly picked up by publishers from European countries as well as Atria/Simon and Schuster in North America.

In the Spring of 2014, publishers in the UK for the London Book Fair got together to celebrate signing The Well and to discuss a joined up strategy for this novel, which they saw as an important book which would speak to readers across national boundaries. They agreed to base their publications on the beautiful cover designed by Canongate for the hardback edition.


Louisa Joyner said: “I keep having to pinch myself to believe that we really have acquired The Well by the remarkably talented Catherine Chanter. The Well is a novel of enormous power. It combines the unputdownable pace of Before I go to Sleep with the emotional pull of The Outcast and the literary quality of early Atwood.”


Michael Heyward of Text Publishing said:“I read The Well in a kind of trance, desperate to race ahead, but wanting to savour its sentences at the same time. Gorgeously written and fiendishly constructed, this seductive and creepy novel with its backdrop of weird weather and its cast of lost souls is about what happens when escape into rural bliss becomes a nightmare. With her eye for the unexpected word and for the phrase that tightens the screw, Catherine Chanter has written an astonishing novel.”


Daniel Loedel, the acquiring editor for S&S in the US also stated that: “The Well is a remarkably assured and original first novel, at once a haunting page-turner and a deeply-felt exploration of the mysterious connection between people and the places they call home.”

Across Europe and beyond