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review 2017-08-11 17:42
Book Review: The Seduction of Water
The Seduction of Water - Carol Goodman

Book: The Seduction of Water

 

Author: Carol Goodman

 

Genre: Thriller/Mystery/Fairy Tales

 

Summary: Iris Greenfeder, ABD (All But Dissertation), feels the "buts" are taking over her life: all but published, all but a professor, all but married. Yet the sudden impulse to write a story about her mother, Katherine Morrissey, leads to a shot at literary success. The piece recounts an eerie Irish fairy tale her mother used to tell her at bedtime - and nestled inside it is the sad story of her death. It captures the attention of her mother's former literary agent, who is convinced that Katherine wrote one final manuscript before her strange, untimely end in a fire thirty years ago. So Iris goes back to the remote Hotel Equinox in the Catskills, the place where she grew up, to write her mother's biography and search for the missing manuscript - and there she unravels a haunting mystery, one that holds more secrets than she ever expected. . . - Ballantine Books, 2003.

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text 2013-12-18 16:54
Best of 2013 Fiction
Cinnamon and Gunpowder: A Novel - Eli Brown
The Seduction of Water - Carol Goodman
The Art of Fielding: A Novel - Chad Harbach
A Discovery of Witches - Deborah Harkness
The Season of Second Chances: A Novel - Diane Meier
Night Film - Marisha Pessl
The Engagements - J. Courtney Sullivan
Fingersmith - Sarah Waters

This best-of lists continue with regular fiction!  This list doesn't include subgenres like crime and speculative fiction, only novels that would be in the general fiction section (though sometimes the separation feels arbitrary).  I read some amazing fiction this year, and my favorites covered a wide range, from a novel about baseball to one about a female pirate in the nineteenth century.  A great haul!

 

What were your favorite novels read in 2013?

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text 2013-05-17 14:45
Criminally Underrated Friday
The Seduction of Water - Carol Goodman
The Lake of Dead Languages - Carol Goodman

Though I'm as into popular, bestselling books as the next gal, I think it's a special feeling to discover an underrated gem, an author or book that didn't break out and land on everyone's radar.  Every Friday I will post about one of mine.

 

Carol Goodman

 

It just so happens that the kind of book Carol Goodman writes is exactly the kind of book I want to read--modern Gothic.  Her novels are upmarket, literary mysteries that often involve a plotline I love:  the heroine, for some reason--often a new job--must move to a new and remote location, and gets caught up in a mystery, either past or present, that she winds up investigating.  I'd recommend her novels to fans of The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, or readers of authors like Tana French.

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review 2012-05-07 00:00
The Seduction of Water
The Seduction of Water - Carol Goodman I started out loving this book, but by about 2/3 of the way through I fell out of love and nearly into boredom. My very shallow analysis: it kept feeling like there was more to the story that would be revealed, but when the time came ------ not so much.

The narrator, Iris Greenfeder, is a part-time college instructor and sometime doctoral candidate who teaches writing to several different audiences: art school students, a group of adults with limited English proficiency, and a class of inmates in a state prison. Working with her ESL students, she reads to them an essay she has written about a favorite fairy tale, one told to her as a child by her mother, and challenges them to write about a folk tale from their own culture, prompting from them a level of engagement and excitement she has not anticipated. As Iris presents the same writing assignment to her other classes, the topic proves to hold greater meaning for all of them: the art students are inspired not only to write but to create artworks from the themes of their chosen stories, and one of the prisoners connects with her over the assignment, on a more personal level than is perhaps wise. At the same time, Iris's own story dredges up unresolved questions from the past, leading her to return to the upstate Hotel Equinox, where she was raised, to investigate the death of her mother, Katherine Morrisey, a fantasy author whose bedtime stories were taken from her books - and which may be thinly veiled excerpts from her mysterious life prior to arriving at the Equinox.

Right about this point, things start to get a little too convenient/coincidental for me - Iris's new "editor" (publisher of a small literary magazine) happens to be related to a major hotel mogul, who steps in to save the aging Hotel Equinox just as its elderly owners decide to close; one of the art students decides to recreate a piece of jewelry from Katherine Morrisey's books, which happens to closely resemble a missing 15th century treasure; within a few hours of beginning her investigations, Iris stumbles over a newspaper article that provides the exact information needed to direct her to the next branch in her mother's story (anyone who's ever spent time doing historical research with a microfiche reader knows how unlikely that is)...

There are also some parallels between the various fairytales and the book's action that were painted a little too broadly for my liking - e.g., Tam Lin is saved when the woman who loves him is willing to hold onto him, no matter what form the Elf Queen changes him into, including setting him aflame - likewise, Iris hangs onto Aidan, despite shifting perceptions of who he really is, not to mention the likelihood she'll get "burned" by their relationship.

All of that said, Carol Goodman's use of language is lovely; I mostly enjoyed the book, esp. the descriptions of the land around the Equinox, and the whimsical constructions designed by Katherine and executed by the hotel's gardener/general handyman (also Iris's unofficial godfather); interesting characters, attention to detail, plus a healthy dash of Celtic myth, which is also a good thing IMHO. I don't think there was a single instance where my qualms with the plot (or, for that matter, an awkwardly written phrase) kicked me out of the story, so for all of my kvetching, I'd still recommend it.
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review 2011-01-02 00:00
The Seduction of Water - Carol Goodman A novel about searching for the truth and family secrets. Iris Greenfeder is a struggling writer who, after selling an essay about her mother (a semi-famous fantasy writer who died under mysterious circumstances and never finished the third book of her trilogy), is commissioned to write a memoir about her mother and takes a job at the hotel in upstate New York where they lived. Deliberately paced with well described settings, I enjoyed this book for the most part but did think there were a few too many coincidences that helped the plot move forward.
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