First Edition: January 2003
On the heels of her mesmerizing bestseller, The Lake of Dead Languages, Carol Goodman has written a brooding, captivating novel that skillfully weaves fairy-tale themes into a modern web of intrigue. It is a novel about the secrets mothers keep, and the daughters who must live in their shadows.
Iris Greenfeder, ABD (All But Dissertation), has just turned forty, lives in Manhattan, and works three teaching jobs to support herself. Recently she's felt that the "buts" are taking over her life: all but published, all but a professor, all but married (to Jack, her boyfriend of ten years). Yet the sudden impulse to write a story about her mother 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 mother's death...
More than fifty years ago, Iris's mother, Katherine Morrissey, arrived at the Catskills's grand Hotel Equinox penniless, with almost no belongings. Kay was hired as a maid but refused to speak of her past or her family. One year later, she married Ben Greenfeder, the hotel's manager. During the hotel's off-season, Kay wrote the first two fantasy novels of a planned trilogy. There never was a third book. When Iris was nine, her mother left one day for a writer's conference--and never came back. Kay died that very night in a hotel fire on Coney Island, registered as another man's wife.
Now Hedda Wolfe, Kay's former literary agent, has a proposal: If Iris will return to the Hotel Equinox where she grew up, research her mother's life and find the third and final manuscript that Hedda is convinced exists, then she can guarantee Iris a huge advance to write her mother's biography.
Transfixed by the notion of a third book, Iris believes that it will hold clues to the mysteries of Kay's life--and death. But as she begins to peer into the thicket of her mother's hidden world, stinging revelations leave Iris with new questions. When a deadly "accident" befalls the one man who could shed some light on Kay, it becomes clear that Iris is not alone in her deep interest in her mother's past--or in her search for a lost manuscript that might hold more secrets than she ever expected.
Humming with tension, awash in atmosphere, and rich in plot, The Seductions of Water is a remarkable and unique combination of lyrical traditions and thrilling suspense--marking Carol Goodman as a modern master of gripping fiction.