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.
The book has all of the typical trappings of a Goodman novel - the main character is a professor/teacher, she teaches English or some humanities discipline, the setting is New York, etc. While the "Goodman tropes" are present, the book is still good and an original tale in its own right. It's a good story and I enjoyed trying to figure out the resolution to the mystery of Iris's mother and the possibility of the third novel.
Spoilers will be kept to a minimum.
Iris is a woman who has dreams and ambitions, but is too comfortable in her current state of things to make any sort of leap towards them. She has yet to finish her thesis, she has all of the pieces to begin writing, but fails to do so, and her boyfriend is the type of man who thinks marriage is unnecessary as their relationship is fine where it is. She teaches a writing course as an adjunct and the prompt for fairy tales inspires her to write a tell-all book about her mother. After a few events that put her in the spotlight of the literary community, former agent of her mother contacts Iris and charges her to find the third manuscript her mother wrote while writing her mother's biography. Iris goes back to the hotel where she grew up and ends up jumping into a dangerous situation she never could have anticipated.
The story overall is a good story and I figured out pieces of the mystery here and there. I figured out the ending and resolution to the mystery around the same time as Iris does.
I do think that the romance that occurs in the story is sudden and underdeveloped. It just happens and you're in the middle of it before you even realize it's happening. However, it's only a minor thread in the story so I can forgive it.
The setting and characters are described in perfect detail as usual. Goodman knows New York so intimately, it's no wonder she uses it as a setting.
The plot itself was good. It wasn't as compelling or enduring as her other stories, but it's not terrible. I just didn't enjoy it as much as the other stories of hers that I've read. I still would recommend it to anyone who likes female thriller novels.
I give The Seduction of Water an A-.
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