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The Drowning House


The Drowning House Cover

ISBN13: 9780385535861
ISBN10: 0385535864
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Reading Group Guide

1. The Drowning House opens with two quotes, one from The Dallas Times Herald in 1966 and the other from famed American photographer Walker Evans. How do these quotes set the stage for what transpires in the novel? Why do you think the author chose them?

2. In Chapter 27, Clare states, “I had always believed that because I observed the world through the lens of my camera, because I looked at things in ways others didn’t, I saw more. Now I understood that I had failed to perceive what other(s) ... registered at once.” What did you make of this realization on Clare’s part? Is photography a way for her to remain detached from her life?

3. Talk about Clare and some of the other main characters. What were your impressions of her, or Eleanor, or Will? Did your feelings about these characters change over the course of the novel?

4. Grief and the different ways in which people deal with grief, is a major thread that runs throughout the novel.  What insights did you gain from the novel about this complicated process?

5. Consider the book’s setting of Galveston, Texas, and the author’s description of life on the island.  How important is the setting of Galveston to what happens in the book?

6. Why do you think Clare held onto her memories of Patrick so tightly? What fueled her desire to connect with him once more?

7. Consider the legend of Stella Carraday and the truth about her life.  Are there parallels to be drawn between Stella and any of the book’s modern-day characters?  If so, how do they enhance the reading experience?

8. Along the lines of the above question, what are the differences between history and legend? Does a little bit of history always exist in a legend, or vice-versa?

9. Did you know much about the Galveston Storm of 1900 before reading The Drowning House? Why do you think the author chose this event as a backdrop for her story?

10. Almost every character in the book has a secret. Talk about the role secrets and secrecy play in The Drowning House.

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McGuffy Ann, April 5, 2013 (view all comments by McGuffy Ann)
Clare Porterfield has made a successful life for herself. As a photographer, she is invited back to her hometown of Galveston, Texas for an exhibition. Reeling from a family tragedy and unraveling marriage, she takes refuge in the offer to reconnect with the comfort of familiarity there.

In revisiting the past, Clare is able to reexamine her own past, as well as research her family history. She is seeking answers involving her family’s connection to a longtime influential family, the Carradays.

Clare is intrigued by the unusual drowning of Stella Carraday, who drowned in the family home during the Great Hurricane of 1900. She had drowned hanging by her hair from the chandelier. The unusual circumstances have long been a mystery. Now Clare’s curiosity grows, drawing her into a dark and unsettling past.

This dark mystery tells some of the history of Galveston, while telling the stories of two families. A fascinating and well developed suspense novel, it is one not to be missed.
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Product Details

A Novel
Black, Elizabeth
Nan A. Talese
Literature-A to Z
galveston;texas;gothic;fiction;mystery;family secrets
Publication Date:
9.53 x 6.65 x 1.13 in 1.32 lb

Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Literature
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Contemporary Women
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Debut Fiction
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Family Life

The Drowning House Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.95 In Stock
Product details 288 pages Nan A. Talese - English 9780385535861 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Galveston, Tex., a place indelibly marked by the hurricane of 1900, which took well over 6,000 lives, is the setting for Black's fine debut. In present day, after the death of her six-year-old daughter and the collapse of her marriage, a broken Clare Porterfield returns to her island hometown after a decade away. She's been invited to choose material for a photo exhibition funded by the prominent Carraday family, whose patriarch, the Jay Gatsbyesque Will, has deep ties to Clare's mother, Eleanor. As children, Will's son, Patrick, and Clare were inseparable, their youthful exploits in and around the Porterfield house gradually tending toward the illegal, but a tragedy involving Patrick sent Clare away from home. Although Clare returns to look at photos of the island's history, what she really seeks is what remains of her wounded self. As Clare searches for the elusive Patrick, the true object of her desire, island characters divulge truths to which she was never privy. As Galveston's past comes to light, so, too, does Clare's — and it's so full of woe it nearly drowns the story. Nevertheless, Black mythologizes this landscape, evoking its essence and that of its inhabitants, creating a novel that is far more than the sum of its parts. Agent: Mollie Glick, Foundry Literary + Media." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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