"My wife of more than forty-five years shot herself yesterday afternoon. At least that is what the police assume, and I am playing the part of grieving widower with enthusiasm and success... It was I who killed her." Thus begins the much-hyped first novel by 20-year-old Oxford undergraduate Richard Mason. Your typical murder mystery The Drowning People
is not, for we are given the identity of the killer--the who
--immediately. The puzzle in this introspective novel is why
--why did 70-year-old James Farrell murder his aristocratic wife, Sarah? The answer lies nearly 50 years into the past as the book ranges from Prague to London, from France to a remote castle in Cornwall. At its core is an intoxicating love affair between 22-year-old James, a talented violinist and hopeless romantic, and Ella Harewood, an American heiress to an English title, trapped by her heritage and destiny. A beautifully written exploration of self-absorbed first love and its tragic consequences, The Drowning People
soars beyond the highest of expectations placed upon it. --Shannon Bingham, Amazon.co.uk
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From Publishers Weekly
The startling opening sentence (My wife of more than 45 years shot herself yesterday afternoon) and the compelling voice of narrator James Farrell draw the reader into the emotional vortex of this accomplished debut novel by a 20-year-old British writer. We learn immediately that his long marriage to Sarah Harcourt was not an affair of the heart for James. His love for Sarahs insecure, fragile cousin, Emma, is the substance of the flashback narrative, which deftly evokes the obsessive passion of first love, meanwhile alluding heavily to sin and guilt. When James meets Ella Harcourt he is about to graduate from Oxford, and to begin serious study of the violin. English-born but raised in America, Ella is heiress to the family seat, Seton Castle, which Sarah patently covets. Moreover, Ella has stolen the man Sarah loves, an eminently acceptable member of the English upper class, and is about to announce their engagement. Recognizing that they are meant for each other, Ella and James conspire to break the engagement, meanwhile meeting secretly and enjoying supreme happiness. They separate for a time when James goes to Prague with his generous and devoted friend Eric de Vaurigard, but Ellas needy nature requires proof of Jamess love, and his actions lead to betrayal and death. Mason is remarkably assured for a young writer, but he has not aimed his sights very high. This is essentially a romantic novel in the Du Maurier tradition, reproducing the portentous, elegiac tone and slowly revealed secrets of this seductive genre. Though Mason supplies clever plot twists, the suspense element is clothed in psychological trendiness: the source of Jamess dilemma is the plot device of too much fiction of late. And though Jamess ruminations on the emotional repression of the British privileged classes alert the reader to his crucial lack of maturity, his incessantly repeated claims of navet and innocence wear thin. Yet there is a large audience for a suspenseful, romantic story like this one, especially when it is told in literate and polished prose. Moreover, the photogenic Mason (and his Oxford accent) should make quite a hit on the talk shows. Major ad/promo; rights sold in Germany, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, France, Holland, Israel, Finland, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Norway and Japan; Literary Guild alternate; Time Warner audio; author tour.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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