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The Drowning House

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The Drowning House

A Novel
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A gripping suspense story about a woman who returns to Galveston, Texas after a personal tragedy and is irresistibly drawn into the insular world she's struggled to leave.Photographer Clare...
A gripping suspense story about a woman who returns to Galveston, Texas after a personal tragedy and is irresistibly drawn into the insular world she's struggled to leave.Photographer Clare...
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Description-
  • A gripping suspense story about a woman who returns to Galveston, Texas after a personal tragedy and is irresistibly drawn into the insular world she's struggled to leave.

    Photographer Clare Porterfield's once-happy marriage is coming apart, unraveling under the strain of a family tragedy. When she receives an invitation to direct an exhibition in her hometown of Galveston, Texas, she jumps at the chance to escape her grief and reconnect with the island she hasn't seen for ten years. There Clare will have the time and space to search for answers about her troubled past and her family's complicated relationship with the wealthy and influential Carraday family.

    Soon she finds herself drawn into a century-old mystery involving Stella Carraday. Local legend has it that Stella drowned in her family's house during the Great Hurricane of 1900, hanged by her long hair from the drawing room chandelier. Could Stella have been saved? What is the true nature of Clare's family's involvement? The questions grow like the wildflower vines that climb up the walls and fences of the island. And the closer Clare gets to the answers, the darker and more disturbing the truth becomes.

    Steeped in the rich local history of Galveston, The Drowning House portrays two families, inextricably linked by tragedy and time.

    "The Drowning HouseMidnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Excerpts-
  • Chapter 1

    If there was a sign, I missed it. But I knew I was in Texas when I swerved to avoid a shape by the side of the road. It must have been around six in the morning, the first thin light just visible through the pines, when I crossed over the state line.

    I stopped and backed up to confirm that the shape was a chest of drawers. Or rather the skeleton of one, since the drawers them­selves were gone and the empty spaces where they should have been gaped open. I'd lived away long enough to find the sight incongruous. But it came back to me all at once, the things I'd seen abandoned at the side of the road in Texas. Not just on rural blacktops but along the busiest superhighways--gut-ripped mattresses, clothing, suitcases, and once, a velvet rocking chair.

    It was what you might expect in a country at war--personal belongings strewn along the side of the road, as though their owners' lives had exploded, sending them flying. Or on the frontier, when travelers came this way as a last resort. In the days when "Gone to Texas" meant you were desperate.

    It was May 1990, and still cool enough at night to leave the car windows open. I heard a bobwhite whistle, and I whistled back, but the only response was a quick flurry of wings. Bobwhites have different calls--for assembly, for food sharing, calls of alarm and flight. Probably I had said the wrong thing.

    I had been driving for several days. Early on, I'd left the route Michael had drawn for me on the map. It was a route as unlikely as the map itself, where the entire continent was an uninterrupted expanse of green. As I drove up the ramp onto my first stretch of freeway, the map blew into the backseat, and I let it lie there.

    Before I left, Michael and I had argued. He couldn't get away, he had a case coming up for trial. "I'll put you on a plane if you want," he said.

    "You'll put me?"

    "Clare, it's just a phrase."

    "You know I can't fly."

    We'd had the same exchange before. What usually happened next was that Michael would shrug and go back to his desk, with its shifting piles of papers and stacks of books on torts and civil procedure, and I would wander the apartment, picking things up and replacing them like someone seeing it all for the first time.

    Instead I said, "I'll drive." Saying it made it seem like something I could do.

    "You're going to drive to Texas from D.C.? By yourself?" Now I had his full attention. "You haven't driven anywhere in months."

    I had tried. I'd gone out to the garage, keys in hand. I'd seen through the window Bailey's blue parka lying on the backseat, one arm flung out in a gesture so vividly like her that for a moment I could almost believe she was alive. Then the truth washed over me. Bright spots swam up from the concrete floor and my legs began to shake. I went back into the house.

    Michael had even suggested selling the station wagon, but I'd resisted.

    "Well." Michael is tall, and when he concentrates, he looks down and frowns. I had once found it attractive, the way he would focus his energy on a problem only to forget it completely a moment later, raising his head and gazing out again at his own serene world. That was before I'd ever supposed I could be the problem. "If it will make you happy."

    I didn't tell him that happiness had always seemed to me to descend suddenly, when you least expected it, like a sun shower. That often it wasn't until much later you could look back and say, then, on that ordinary morning, with a car full of six-year-olds squirming and kicking, as the station wagon flashed through the dappled light of the tree-lined streets, then I was truly happy.

    "Michael, don't," I...

About the Author-
  • ELIZABETH BLACK has published poetry in Kansas Quarterly, Karamu, and Southern Humanities Review. The Drowning House is her first novel.

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    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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A Novel
Elizabeth Black
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Elizabeth Black
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