"It's been thirteen years since I last saw Neil--and fourteen years since we both nearly drowned in the river--and I still dream about him every night, and because he told me once that he believed that we could visit each other in our dreams, I always have the feeling that that is what he's doing--coming to me in my dreams each night. And what really frightens me ... is that a part of both of us was left behind at the bottom of the river ..." page 5, The Drowning Tree
The Drowning Tree by Carol Goodman finally arrived for me here at the library. There is only one copy in the county, and you can request it from Palmyra Public Library if you wish to read it; I recommend you do so--that is, read this book or any book by Carol Goodman. She is a fine writer.
The thing I like the most about Goodman's novels is that they always have a strong literary influence that figures heavily into the plot of the novel itself. Her first novel was heavily influenced by the Latin language--the main character taught it at a private girls' school; The Seduction Of Water was heavily influenced by fairy tales, specifically the Irish tale of the Selkie. The Drowning Tree is heavily influenced by classical Greek and Roman mythology, and it is an important element of the plot. Another reason I like Goodman's novels is that art also has a large place in the story--whether it's teaching, writing, or in this case, stained glass and painting--it adds interest to the story. Another recurring theme in Goodman's novels is a mystery from the past that often intertwines and parallels a mystery that takes place in the present time of the story and often the mystery from the past plays a key role in solving the mystery of the present.
In this novel Juno, Christine and Neil have been friends since college; Juno and Neil marry and have a daughter before he suffers a major mental breakdown that lands him in a loony bin. This threesome is mirrored in the threesome of Clare, Eugenie and August Penrose, who lived 100 years ago; the latter two founded Penrose College which is where Juno, Christine and Neil meet. Christine suffers various crises in her life after college before finally getting her life back on track. She delivers a lecture at the college that presents an unexpectedly scandalous interpretation of the famous stained glass window of thier college that may or may not depict Eugenie Penrose. Then Christine is found dead. The mysteries and complexities of the threesome of Clare, Eugenie and August parallel the threesome of Juno, Christine and Neil. In the end Juno discovers the truth behind the relationships of both threesomes but not without consequences.
There is only The Sonnet Lover left--the last and most recent Goodman novel--to read. Hopefully there is another one forthcoming sometime soon ... like this year? In the meantime, there are some exciting new releases coming up in the first half or so of this year. Kathy Reichs, Karin Slaughter, John Connolly, Jodi Picoult, Alice Hoffman, and Tess Gerritsen are releasing new titles that will be out by the end of this summer. I'm excited to read these new titles; what drives me crazy, though, is that Amazon only has titles and release dates listed for most of these and NO blurbs. I can't wait for these books to finally arrive.
--Reviewed by Ms. Angie