Still Waters by Camilla Noli

Also known as The Mothers Tale by Camilla Noli (UK)

Still Waters - A gut wrenching tale that every mother or mother to be should read - if you dare!

Speak to any Mum and they will all tell you that they have muttered the phrase "God, I could kill that child sometimes!"

The majority of Mothers don't actually mean it. But this story tells a tale about a Mother who actually does. She loses it, and kills her own child, and seemingly gets away with it.

A great choice for any female book clubs that have a few mothers in the room. It's what I'd call a mesmorising but very uncomfortable read.


From the outset of Still Waters, here is a family which seems to have everything; there doesn't seem to be a shortage of money & the Narrator's husband obviously  adores her (well, to begin with.) And now, having children would seem to have put the icing on the cake. But no! The warning signs were there from the start.

What follows is utter resentment of her two children with devastating consequences.

She claims she never really wanted children in the first place and clearly misses her career and life before kids. She can only watch (or look on) as her husband continues on his career path. But can these "reasons" really explain her actions?

Themes in Still Waters

Maternal Instinct - The majority of mothers do seem to have genuine love for their children. It does seem to be an innate part of being a woman. But here we clearly see a lack of these feelings. So do we develop maternal instinct or are we born with it?

The role of men and women in child rearing -

It's clear that the mother in this story resents that her husband gets to continue his life as normal while she gives everything up to raise the children.

In an age where women are supposed to be treated equal, where we have been given every independence and opportunity just like men, is it any wonder that some women find giving up their career to bring up children a tad difficult?

We are all having children later in life, when we have really had a chance to live our life. This seems to make it more difficult for some to give up their lives for their kids.  Did the generations of women that came before us have it right? Having children younger without necessarily having a career perhaps made it an easier transition to motherhood.

The Impact of Past Relationships on our psyche

It's clear that this mother and her own mother have several issues. They have both had a stormy past & she's pleased to be presented with an opportunity to get rid of her mother in such a casual way. But is it enough to blame her mother for the devastating events of Still Waters?

Lack of Communication

There is a huge lack of communication. Perhaps she didn't discuss it because she knew Daniel wouldn't have stayed with her without having children. They didn't know one another very well.


Is Maternal Instinct learned or something we are born with?

Why does the mother do what she does to the children?

What characteristics does she have that make her more likely to commit this terrible crime?

Is she jealous of her own children - Are the children really what her husband wanted & not her?

To what extent is her mother inadvertently to blame?

Can any blame be attributed to her husband?

The beginning of the novel describes how the mother feels with the relentlessness of motherhood and the constant crying. Can you relate to this? Was it disturbing to think you had similar thoughts to her?

Could the mother have had post natal depression?

How satisfied were you with the ending of the book?


This is hardly a book of literary genius but it is a great read and a wonderful topic for discussion.

It's also a very disturbing and uncomfortable read at times, which in itself is a good thing for a book club!

So whilst this book didn't score too highly after reading it, Still Waters would certainly have scored more for its interesting discussion areas - but only if you have a few mums in the room.

Overall, we felt that the mother is the most to blame for the outcome. She has an unusually extreme sense of her own worth; P95 " Since when has some half-educated policewoman been any match for someone like me?" She hates that she has lost her status & her superiority. We couldn't bring ourselves to label her with post natal depression due to the extremities of her actions.

Camilla Noli has a wonderful way of using vocab in a very precise way. There is a lot of psychology here though there may be those who think the Narrator is simply selfish & bad

Most thought the ending was a bit disappointing. It felt a bit too contrived, being able to get rid of her baby & her mother in one move in such a way.

Top of Still Waters by Camilla Noli

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