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The Drowning Tree Audio CD – August, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Ms. Goodman likes mythology and classic literature and art. She moves the plot along by using parallels from mythological tales such as Baucis and Philemon, two ancient lovers turned into a tree by Zeus who granted the couple's wish that they may die together and be guardians of Zeus's temple. This sounds heavy-handed, but it isn't. Such myths work well within the storyline.
The author builds her primary mystery around a painting that served as the model for an artsy stained-glass window at Penrose College. The narrator Juno McKay attended Penrose, but didn't graduate because she got pregnant and married her boyfriend Neil. Juno's story opens with a brief dream sequence, then segues into reality as she rushes to hear her best friend Christine give a lecture about the artist and other personalities associated with the painting/window.
There's a lot of action in the book, considering it's what I'd call a literary mystery. Juno's husband Neil is mentally ill, and has been in a long-term care facility since he tried to drown Juno and their daughter Beatrice years ago. Juno has several romantic interests, and the reader wonders who will triumph in the end, although one of the men's names is a dead giveaway.
Penrose college is one of those tony schools up North with hefty tuition and lofty expectations as well as a delicious scandal that unfolds. Several mysteries run concurrently, but are neatly wrapped up in the end.
Ms. Goodman manages to take on a bit of literary and artistic theory without boring the reader.Read more ›
These seemingly disparate elements come together seamlessly, and I was repeatedly struck while reading this book how knowledgeable the author is. Her grasp of languages, history, and psychology are impressive, and I have to admit, I felt a bit smarter after reading this book.
Which is not to say that it is perfect. There are small holes in the storyline, but they're not obvious, and they don't take away from the intriguing and engaging tone of the characters and the situations in which they find themselves. The ending was a bit too contrived, however the author could have taken the plot twists in several different directions, and she chose an interesting resolution to the problems the protagonist faces.
Ultimately I gave this book 5 stars because I was so pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. If you like thrillers, particularly those written by someone who's at least as smart as you are (if not more), you can hardly do better.
I expected the same from her in this one, and at first, she delivered. The plot is pure Carol Goodman, with a thirtysomething heroine, unfulfilled in her romantic and artistic lives, confronting a trauma from her past while trying to unspool a mystery. Her writing is exquisite, all done in dreamlike, present tense narrative, and the backdrop of the Pre-Raphaelite and Arts & Crafts Movements is done as well as Latin and folklore were done in her previous two novels.
However, Goodman's tale falls apart hopelessly in the last chapter or two. The strong appeal of her stories for me has always been the central mystery, at the heart of which has always been a deep, dark secret, the best sort of Gothic twist, and at first, Goodman seems to be taking us down that path in her best tradition: a scandal from the past, madness, and love gone wrong. However, she suddenly makes a turn toward the end leading us to an utterly pedestrian demouement that seems more fitting to the workman-like prose of Lisa Gardner than to Goodman. It's incogruous, her lovely writing with this hackneyed, silly resolution, and the red herrings she planted along the way are left unresolved or hastily and incompletely explained.
I read Carol Goodman because she usually rises above this. Not this time. Disappointing.
Goodman takes her time telling her story of love, friendship, betrayal, heritage and madness. The plot enfolds amidst much evocative delving into the past where deadly secrets are buried in recently discovered sketches, letters, deliberately misassembled stained glass paintings, submerged treasures in out-of-bounds estate grounds, etc. All this paves the way for a denouement that isn't as much predictable as artificial, as if Goodman is trying her damnest to avoid the obvious once readers have cottoned onto the truth very early on about what really happened more than a hundred years ago. For this reason, I found the ending somewhat anti-climactic, like a last minute diversion into some minor lane. It is ultimately the consistently high quality of writing that rescues the "The Drowning Tree" from being an averagely plotted thriller. Goodman should find new plot direction if she is to avoid repetition and being stuck in a rut.
Four stars for the plot but five stars overall.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Had I read this murder mystery before I read her new offering River Road I would not be comparing the two novels. Read morePublished 5 days ago by margaret
It was enjoyable, and very interesting with the mythological comparisons.Published 1 month ago by Shelley Gliedman
I'm a picky mystery fan. This book had great atmosphere, which was richly described, complex characters, and some great standard thriller elements -- like an ex-husband in a nut... Read morePublished 2 months ago by allgirl
I love all, of Carol Goodman's stories; I have read quite a few. None of her stories have ever disappointed me. They are always imaginative, suspenseful, intriguing, and original.Published 11 months ago by Bohemian reader
Captivating from the very first page to the very last page. I can't wait to read more from this author.Published 13 months ago by Cathi D.
Not a very engaging read. It lost me in the first few chapters(boring) but our book club assigned this book so I felt obligated to read it.Published 16 months ago by sloan
It seems like every prominent character in this tale is sick, confused or stifled by mixed emotion. Layers of story lines do not help nor do the myriad references to literature,... Read morePublished 20 months ago by k odonnell