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Seduction of Water
by Carol Goodman

Published: 2004-01-01
Mass Market Paperback : 400 pages
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Recommended to book clubs by 1 of 1 members
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 ...
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(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 is the sad story of her mother’s death. . .

More than fifty years ago, Iris’s mother, Katherine Morrissey, arrived at the Catskills’ 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 Seduction of Water is a remarkable and unique combination of lyrical traditions and thrilling suspense–marking Carol Goodman as a modern master of gripping fiction.

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Discussion Questions

Suggested by Members

1. The fairy tale assignment galvanized Iris's students and helped them to find their own voices. Why do you think this assignment was successful on so many levels?
2. Iris's unfinished dissertation is an analysis of her mother's very personal fiction, an analysis hobbled by the daughter's ignorance of the mother's past. Discuss the complex blend of mythical, religious, and personal influences in K.R. LaFleur's fanta
3. Both Iris and Phoebe are haunted by the early loss of their mothers. Discuss how these characters have been shaped by and have adapted to their losses.
by debbie1962 (see profile) 06/21/11

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Member Reviews

Overall rating:
  "Plot twists"by Deb G. (see profile) 06/21/11

Although a few in our group thought the beginning was a little slow, they all ended up loving this read. The characters are well developed and just when you think you have it figured out, there is another... (read more)

  "Seduction of Water"by Jennifer B. (see profile) 01/19/10

I had a hard time reading this and quit at about page 100 due to things going on. Well, i am so glad i picked it back up! Once it got going it was good. Slow to start, but it picks up and ends up to... (read more)

  "Our club split on this one. I give it three stars--I liked it."by Lianne M. (see profile) 01/06/10

For clubs interested in how gender roles and the early loss of a mother/mother figures affects work, relationships, and artistic pursuits.

  "A beautifully crafted tale of family."by Amy H. (see profile) 07/15/08

This book was such an unexpected pleasure! I deeply admired the author's craftsmanship. The plot was beautifully woven. I also loved the wonderful imagery in the story. This has been my favorite book club... (read more)

  "Interestingly written tale"by LN T. (see profile) 05/23/08

  "great book"by Ellen t. (see profile) 05/08/08

It was a wonderful read. Good story

  "Worth the time"by eleeza r. (see profile) 04/13/08

Goodman uses the past and present to tell her tale. Iris's past completely created the woman she's become. Her mother, her mother's past, her mother's unexplained death all were factors in her development,... (read more)

  "Wonderfully written novel"by ellen t. (see profile) 08/15/07

I picked up this book from an on-line weekly book club, and loved it. I love the story of the Silkies, mythical animals that transform themselves into women and woo unsuspecting men. The l... (read more)

  "Another excellent book from Carol Goodman!"by Jennifer D. (see profile) 08/02/07

Like "The Lake of Dead Languages", this is another page-turner that you will not be able to put down!

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