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Mourning for her daughter and her crumbling marriage, photographer Clare Porterfield returns to her childhood home in Galveston, Texas, hoping to find distraction in mounting an exhibition featuring the island’s vivid history.
Things haven’t changed much during her decade away: her relationship with her mother and older sister is still fraught and competitive, and their neighbors, the Carradays, wield the same moneyed influence they have for generations. But Clare finds that she is now an outsider, out of step with the unique rhythms of Galveston life. As she copes with her grief by digging deeper into the past, she discovers secrets that have grown and multiplied like the wildflowers that climb up Island walls and fences—secrets that will give her a new understanding of her own history.
“[Black] possesses elegant descriptive powers. . . . The honky-tonk allure of Galveston's Strand district . . . comes alive in all its touched-up splendor.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A page-turning chronicle of grief and memory . . . propelled by Black’s lyrical, haunting narration.” —BookPage
"Elegant and evocative." —The Toronto Star
“Absorbing. . . . A love letter to Galveston, its peculiar barrier island ways and the shape that its isolated, ingrown history gives to relationships and events.” —Philadelphia City Paper
“An engrossing story of perception and context, with an appealing heroine and a fascinating setting.” —The Free Lance-Star
"A dark, addictive and compelling tale of Galveston Island. It builds to a stunning climax that keeps you reading compulsively to the end." —Galveston Daily News
“A notable debut. . . . Thrillingly evocative. . . . Elizabeth Black excels at summoning the unique culture of Galveston . . . [and] absorbingly draws out the isolationist, melancholy nature the island’s inhabitants have cultivated.” —The Dallas Morning News
“[The Drowning House] offers the ravages of water, fire, and wind, and a portrait of Galveston struggling to disentangle itself from a romanticized past.” —Texas Observer
“Black, a poet, takes great care to construct each paragraph to reflect the complicated physical and emotional landscape of Clare’s hometown.” —Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“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.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Black’s tempered prose and moody vulnerability creates a rich debut; both sensitive and sensational.” —Kirkus Reviews
"The Drowning House marks the emergence of an impressive new literary voice. Elizabeth Black's suspenseful inquiry into dark family secrets is enriched by a remarkable succession of images, often minutely observed, that bring characters, setting, and story sharply into focus." —John Berendt, New York Times bestselling author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
"Prepare to be lost in Elizabeth Black's Galveston. Strange, mysterious, and utterly riveting, The Drowning House is a captivating mystery as well as a beautifully realized story about grief that skillfully evokes the heat, humidity, and languid desire that pervade Gulf Coast life." —Michelle Richmond, New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Fog
"As dark and gleaming as a ruby, Elizabeth Black’s suspenseful debut limns the slippery nature of truth surrounding a shocking tragedy, with language so exquisite you’ll be underlining phrases." —Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You