Carol Goodman is a one-woman publishing phenomenon. Since 2002, she’s produced eight books—each a unique story, not part of a series. Her debut novel, The Lake of Dead Languages, achieved bestseller status, and her subsequent books have all earned significant levels of praise and readership. She straddles the genres of suspense, mystery, gothic, thriller—with literary, artistic, and historical overtones.
When I began The Seduction of Water—her second novel—I thought I was discovering a new author in Goodman. Soon, however, something about the protagonist and the style felt familiar, reminding me of a book I’d read a few years ago, about a classics teacher who travels to Italy. I drove myself crazy for a day or two, trying to recall the author or the title, finally entering a series of keywords into Amazon and still coming up empty. A belated brainstorm: did Goodman herself write this vaguely similar book? A quick check of her web site confirmed that she had: The Night Villa. Not sure if this is evidence of my sensitivity to style or of Goodman’s somewhat formulaic approach to writing.
Nevertheless, The Seduction of Water was an enjoyable page-turner. I got caught up in first-person narrator Iris Greenfeder’s struggles with a stalled writing career and unfinished family business. There were also the expected romantic entanglements, but they were the least engaging parts of this novel. I liked the fairy-tale motif that Goodman wove into her story, even if some of the coincidences were just a little too coincidental.
Having read two of Goodman’s novels, I might wait a while before starting a third. But The Lake of Dead Languages is on my counter; I requested both Seduction and Lake from the library at the same time.
It all depends on how quickly I work through my next books…I’ve just begun Gone Girl (at my sister’s insistence—she wants to discuss it when we get together for the Friends Book Fair). And I can’t wait much longer to get my hands on this summer’s universally-trumpeted Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel’s sequel to the excellent Wolf Hall. Not to mention the treasures I’m sure to find at the fair!