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Wetlands [Hardcover]

Charlotte Roche , Tim Mohr
2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Feb 2009

Now a major film, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and due for general release in 2014, this is the story of Helen Memel, an 18-year-old with a very frank attitude to sex.

Since its debut in February, the novel ("Feuchtgebiete," in German) has sold more than a million copies, and is the biggest selling book on Amazon anywhere in the world.

The book is a headlong dash through every crevice and byproduct, physical and psychological, of its narrator's body and mind. It is difficult to overstate the raunchiness of the novel. Wetlands opens in a hospital room after an intimate shaving accident. It gives a detailed topography of Helen's hemorrhoids, continues into the subject of anal intercourse and only gains momentum from there, eventually reaching avocado pits as objects of female sexual satisfaction and - here is where the debate kicks in - just possibly female empowerment. Clearly the novel has struck a nerve, catching a wave of popular interest in renewing the debate over women's roles and image in society.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; 3rd Impression edition (5 Feb 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007296703
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007296705
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 295,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘Profoundly unsettling’ Rowan Pelling, Daily Mail

‘If you ever wondered what you'd be like if you weren't shy, polite, tolerant, modest, sexually repressed, logical and constrained by modern standards of hygiene, this may be the book for you…This is not a beautiful or perfect book, but an enterprising one, and its cumulative effect is admirable…Our bodies mean a lot to us – even the asshole, about which far too little has been written. Every writer needs to claim a bit of territory, and assholes are there for the grabbing. Boldly, Roche takes them for her own’ Guardian

‘“Wetlands”, in the tradition of Plath's “The Bell Jar”, is a remarkable novel about mental illness that has been mistaken for feminist literature’ Alice O’Keefe, New Statesman

‘The cause of the fuss is the novel's extreme obscenity – though “obscenity” doesn't quite catch the particular, pungent flavour of the thing. “Grunginess” is nearer the mark’ Adam Lively, Sunday Times

‘Literary news this week suggests that when it comes to women writing about sex, reviewers are still reacting in the same way as Dr Johnson to his walking dog, surprised that it’s being done at all. So hats off to Charlotte Roche, who has managed to give both the “Sunday Times” and the “Guardian” the willies by cheerfully confessing to consuming pornography with her husband and starting her book “Wetlands” with a graphic discussion of hemorrhoids’ Lisa Hilton, Spectator

‘Maeve Binchy is famous for her unique humour and insight; Cecelia Ahern is popular for her unlikely twists and touches of magic; Charlotte Roche has a different formula for success – haemorrhoids, hairy armpits and halitosis, mixed together into an unlikely erotic pot-pourri’ Irish Independent

From the Inside Flap

Helen Memel lies in the Department of Internal Medicine at Maria Hilf Hospital. While she waits for her divorced parents to come and visit her - who she hopes will finally be reconciled by the side of her hospital bed - she begins to examine those parts of her body usually seen as distinctly 'unladylike'. She lets the orderly, Robin, take photos of those areas her curious gaze can't reach. And, on the side, she tends to her collection of avocado stones - which also happen to provide her with invaluable sexual services ...

Wetlands takes an unflinching, and very funny, look at one of the last remaining taboos of today. Courageous, radical and provocative, Charlotte Roche's novel rebels against hygiene hysteria, the sterile aesthetics of women's magazines and standardized dealings with the female body and its sexuality. This is a wonderfully wild story of a heroine both pleasure-seeking and vulnerable, who voices what others do not even dare to think.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars nothings shocking 24 April 2011
The book cover itself says its a marmite book you either love it or hate it. Most of the reviews that are one star reviews say it is shocking for the sake of being shocking and other cliches sorry but i did not find it shocking but funny and humane a reclaiming of our bodys and the reality of them from the medias idea of what is right and proper. So i would say give it a go and if you don't like it fair enough but don't be put off by the endless cliches of the other reviewers.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but disgusting! 7 April 2009
First thing to say about this book is that it is truly disgusting, and every body fluid imaginable is discussed in detail, usually ending up in it being eaten and ingested back into the body in some way.

The graphic `sex' side of it didn't really bother me, and is nowhere near as shocking as I was expecting from the hype this book has received. As another reviewer has pointed out this sort of thing may be mo shocking in Germany, but a load of sexual exhibitionists isn't really new news here.

Unlike other reviewers however I did quite like the character of Helen and I found the motivations of her behaviour (i.e. her parents' divorce) to be believable, and quite sad. The bit regarding her mother and brother (don't want to give spoilers away) was really sad and seems to have been a bit overlooked by reviewers as motivation for her somewhat strange behaviour. Although before you read it is important to remember that the whole point of this novel is to shock, rather than sustain a steady plot and believable characters, so if you are looking for a good `story' as such, stay well clear!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too intentionally funny to be pornography 9 Jun 2009
Other reviewers have complained that this book is just a kind of pornographic attempt to shock, but I think that is missing the point. Sure, the writer appears to be obsessed with the most basic animal functions of our bodies, but there's more to this than pornography, which is rarely readable or intentionally amusing (or so I'm told!). The reason the book has sold so well is surely because it is, in parts, very funny, and although there are lots of dirty words it is at least quite well-written, though Ms Roche does have a problem knowing when to use commas instead of full-stops (eg: 'They thought I didn't notice. But I did. And how.') And this: 'I swear I will. Helen. Very impressive'. Note that one-word sentence: 'Helen', which is the narrator referring to herself, something she does about a thousand times throughout this relatively short book, rather irritatingly.

The author is English but brought up in Germany and it is surely the combination of English lavatory humor and German openness concerning the body that is responsible for producing such an unlikely best-seller. So is it worth reading? Only if you've got nothing better to do and want to know what all the fuss is about. (Yes, there's been a lot of fuss over this book, which has been taken far too seriously for a novel that was obviously intended as a joke.)

The blurb on the back cover, a Granta quote claiming the book evokes 'The Catcher in the Rye', is nonsense, and anyone expecting such quality will be sadly disappointed, as is usually the case with back-cover blurbs. The best that can be said about this book is that, considering the limitations of the subject matter and the location (we never leave the hospital), and the fact that there is no plot whatsoever, it is quite entertaining and easy to read, assuming you aren't too squeamish.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bodily fluids 19 May 2010
"Girl is in hospital for operation, girl has operation, girl mooches around hospital, girl leaves hospital..."

On the face of it not a lot happens in this book, but it's central character Helen's internal dialogue and visceral obsession with her own body and its secretions that make this a fascinating and funny - if extremely disgusting in places- read. Helen comes across as a witty, likable and eccentric narrator if not a particularly reliable one - I'm not sure I "believed" (insofar as one can believe fiction anyway) that she actually left hospital to live with the male nurse just like that... it felt more as if that was what the character would like to happen than what was actually likely to take place.

I don't know just how much of this is autobiographical and how much is Charlotte Roche trying to make the reader uncomfortable - I'm not sure I want to know!

All in all very enjoyable - I wonder if it was even better in the original German which unfortunately I don't speak?
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Story of a very damaged young woman 29 May 2009
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
I read this because I wanted to make up my own mind about the controversy it has generated, but the book is actually very different from what I had expected from all the reviews. Yes, it is gross and completely disgusting in lots of places, to the point where there were pages I had to skim through since they were so stomach-churning.

But at heart this is a story of Helen, an emotionally-damaged eighteen-year old, scarred by her family, sexually-promiscuous but lonely, and screaming her pain through her defiant and rebellious relationship to her own body. Like a seven-year old, she thinks she's being clever and shocking, but what gradually builds up in this short book is not a sense of empathy but of pity.

Charlotte Roche isn't Helen, but she has created a monstrously vivid anti-heroine. I can completely understand the people who have slated this book for its repellent and sometimes nauseating episodes, but I can also understand their necessity in defining who and what Helen is. So not a pleasant book to read, but ultimately a brave and interesting one.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars No substance!
I bought this as I was quite frankly intrigued by all the talk! It is as described: disgusting. And if you can get past that, it's actually got very little substance to it! Read more
Published 29 days ago by Sara Sayers
1.0 out of 5 stars Made me feel sick
After the first couple of chapters I couldn't read any more and was so revolted by the story I put it in the recycling bin rather sending to the charity shop as usual. Read more
Published 2 months ago by StayAtHomeMum
1.0 out of 5 stars Hm
I read the reviews and thought that as I am the type of person who doesn't get easily offended and I find direct talk sometimes quite funny and talk about my fanny issues loud and... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Hanna
1.0 out of 5 stars vile nonsence
tried really hard to finish this book BUT every page was worse than the previous one,
I actually gave up Reading it after reaching half way.
Published 2 months ago by karen rosemarygrant
4.0 out of 5 stars The Book cover says it all!
This may just be the strangest book I've ever encountered. But strange can be good right?! I squirmed my way from start to finish but couldn't put it down! Read more
Published 2 months ago by Monsster
1.0 out of 5 stars Why?
This is simply a disgusting book about disgusting habits. It has no literary worth whatsoever. After the first chapter I consigned it to the paper recycling bin.
Published 5 months ago by Occam
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book, definitely needed in this day and age
Another great study into the playground and busy organism that is the woman's body. I love being a woman :)
Published 6 months ago by Kaysi Foster
4.0 out of 5 stars Hilariously disgusting
The weirdest, most disgusting book I've ever read....but completely hilarious and definitely one of a kind! Every page has something shocking on it. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Teekay
5.0 out of 5 stars Disgusting, outrageous, puerile, scatalogical, brilliant
Often hilarious in its page by page obsession with bodily functions, and plunging thereby almost into the areas of existential inescapabilities as Satre did with his reference to... Read more
Published 8 months ago by rated
1.0 out of 5 stars confusingly unnecessary
Why was this book ever written or rather,published?That is MY big question.I had to rate it with one star since there was no option for a zero
Published 10 months ago by M. J. Von Stedingk
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