Drowned

Drowned

3.0 4
by Therese Bohman
     
 

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Drowned, set in the idyllic countryside during a short-lived Swedish summer, gets under one’s skin from the first page, creating an atmosphere of foreboding in which even the perfume of freshly picked vegetables roasting in the kitchen becomes ominous.

Marina has left behind her stalled relationship and floundering career in Stockholm to visit

Overview

Drowned, set in the idyllic countryside during a short-lived Swedish summer, gets under one’s skin from the first page, creating an atmosphere of foreboding in which even the perfume of freshly picked vegetables roasting in the kitchen becomes ominous.

Marina has left behind her stalled relationship and floundering career in Stockholm to visit her sister in rural Skåne, where she lives in a house full of books, gorgeous flowers and, as Marina soon learns, many secrets. Nothing is as it seems in this spellbinding novel of psychological suspense that combines hothouse sensuality with ice-cold fear on every page.

More than a mere thriller, this debut novel delves deep into the feminine soul and at the same time exposes the continuing oppression of women in Sweden’s supposedly enlightened society. Mixing hothouse sensuality with ice-cold fear on every page, Drowned heralds the emergence of a major new talent on the international scene.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A summer visit to a remote Swedish country house sends dangerous ripples through seemingly perfect lives in Bohman's unsettling debut. Academic burnout Marina leaves art history behind and travels to rural Skåne to stay with her older sister, Stella, and Stella's much older boyfriend, well-known writer Gabriel. Despite the oppressive heat, all seems lovely at first; Marina enjoys walking the grounds and discussing art with Gabriel. Unsurprisingly, all is not well between the couple, which Marina gathers piecemeal from her sister—they've never been close and Stella's job keeps her away—and from the increasingly amorous Gabriel. Nature is a constant presence, particularly the life—and death—cycle of the cottage's impressive gardens. Bohman delicately pulls apart the seams of Stella and Gabriel's relationship and lays an almost undetectable layer of menace around the increasingly interwoven trio. Alliances continually, and subtly, shift: from united sisters to established couple against the interloper to secret lovers against an unwitting third wheel. The seasonal and structural changes are deliberately understated and carry emotional weight into the climax, which Bohman deftly makes both foregone and suspenseful, leaving the reader wondering if everyone was doomed from the start. (May)
From the Publisher
"A slim novel with a taut narrative line and a sense of impending disaster....A tale of identity and tense personal relationships, one that as a film property would have appealed to Hitchcock or de Palma." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“The seasonal and structural changes are deliberately understated and carry emotional weight into the climax, which Bohman deftly makes both foregone and suspenseful, leaving the reader wondering if everyone was doomed from the start.” —Publisher’s Weekly

“A horrifyingly compelling psychological thriller set in modern-day Sweden…Bohman manages to flesh out characters, setting, and plot in just over 200 pages, a feat that makes for a highly engaging and fast-paced read, yet one with great depth.” —Booklist

“[Bohman] writes with simplicity and restrain, and each detail adds to the slowly building tension…This is an artful psychological thriller, and utterly riveting, as it delves into the dark side of lust, sex and obsession.” —Herald Sun (Australia)

“Therese Bohman’s Drowned is a flawless story written in razor sharp prose, and is extremely hard to put down.” –Coffin Factory

Drowned puts both its protagonist and its reader on edge almost from the beginning and never really allows either to become settled or comfortable. It's an effective, suspenseful psychological mystery.” –Shelf Awareness

“Action is absent, as are bold, aggressive female heroes. No politics, at least overtly, either. Just a wholly controlled, absorbing account of inexplicable female passivity in the 21st century, a condition that seems to affect certain twenty-somethings of Sweden as much as it does those in New York, if the TV show Girls is any indication…The translation, by Marlaine Delargy, is supple and effective and frequently mesmerizing.” –Reviewing the Evidence

“Most thrillers conclude by exposing a killer. Drowned, on the other hand, ends with a larger, more upsetting truth: how we expose ourselves…Author Therese Bohman could be lumped in with the other Scandinavian authors who have taken over the mystery world since The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but her story is more quiet and nuanced, her writing lush enough to create a landscape painting with every scene. No shoot-outs, showdowns or explosions end this story, but be prepared to gasp all the same, not with fear, but with understanding.” –Oprah

Kirkus Reviews
A tale of identity and tense personal relationships, one that as a film property would have appealed to Hitchcock or de Palma. In the first part of the story Marina, the narrator, is drowning in all kinds of ways, for her life is marred by inconsequence. Her relationship with her boyfriend is desultory, and she's supposedly working on an art history paper on Dante Gabriel Rossetti but has little commitment to the task. At this point in her life she visits her sister Stella and Stella's husband Gabriel, a volatile novelist. Immediately, an edgy attraction develops between Marina and her brother-in-law. Stella works her job as a landscapist in the small Swedish town near which they live, so she's away from home much of the time, leaving Gabriel to work on his latest novel and Marina to feel the magnetic pull of his personality. On the surface, Gabriel seems kind and attentive, but Marina senses a deeper friction--hints of physical abuse, for example, and anger out of proportion to the events that gave rise to it. Ultimately, however, Marina willingly gives in to the passion she feels for him, a passion fed by the languorous and oppressive heat of the Swedish summer. The second part of the story skips ahead several months, for the weather, the cold rain of November, is now oppressive in a different way. Marina has returned to the house after Stella's death by drowning. She had slipped on a rock by a lake and supposedly hit her head, but Marina eventually finds herself open to the possibility that Gabriel had something to do with the "accident"--and she fears that Gabriel's novel based on Ophelia might have adumbrated his wife's death. A slim novel with a taut narrative line and a sense of impending disaster.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590515242
Publisher:
Other Press, LLC
Publication date:
05/22/2012
Edition description:
Translatio
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
4.98(w) x 7.74(h) x 0.69(d)

Read an Excerpt

I am slightly embarrassed by his scrutiny, I imagine he must think I look pale, wrong in some way, ugly. But that is not what his expression suggests. I wonder what he’s thinking.
   A lock of hair has fallen into his eyes, he pushes it back with his hand and leaves a red mark on his forehead. When he looks at his hand and sees that it is sticky with paint, he realizes what has happened. “Have I got red paint on my forehead?” “Yes.” I smile. So does he, slightly embarrassed again. “A lot?” “No, not really…let me.”
   I move a step closer and run my thumb gently over the mark on his forehead. He looks at me, no longer smiling. There is a strong smell of paint, as if the hot, still air is intensifying the smell, making it linger. The lock of hair falls into his eyes again, and I gently push it aside to get at the paint. I can feel his breath against my cheek, he is close now, bending his head toward me so that I can reach. His forehead is brown from the sun, his whole face, his arms, he is wearing a faded black T-shirt and he smells wonderful, warm. 
   “Has it gone?” 
   “Yes.”
   I hold up my hand to show him, red paint on my thumb and forefinger, and he suddenly grabs hold of my wrist, twists my hand around, and looks at my fingers. It is a rapid movement, decisive, his grip is hard, just like when I met him on that first evening, the firm handshake. Perhaps he isn’t aware of how strong he is. “Pretty nail polish,” he says. I did my nails last night, a cool pink, shimmering like mother-of pearl in the sunlight. “Thanks,” I say quietly.

Meet the Author

Therese Bohman is a columnist for Expressen, writing about literature, art, culture, and fashion. Her debut novel Drowned was published by Other Press in 2012. She lives in Sweden.
 
Marlaine Delargy has translated novels by John Ajvide Lindqvist, Kristina Ohlsson, and Helene Tursten, as well as The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist (Other Press) and Therese Bohman’s Drowned (Other Press). She lives in England.

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Drowned 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just can't shake the 'what did I miss?' feeling I am left with after reading this book.
eternalised More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most confusing books I’ve ever read. No idea if it’s the translation, or just the plot. There’s no real conclusion, no side plot to add any action, nothing is resolved, characters are flat. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down...was dying to know what happened?!? Unfortunately I never got to find out! Was so frustrated after I finished this book! I thought surely there has to be a second book to explain what happened!?! Nope!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I got home from school on a Friday afternoon. "HI EVERYBODY!" My lunchbox was set on the counter and I walked away. Nice and even. Nice and even. <p> "AAAH!" Right there, I saw it. On the end of my bed. The one and only... Rake. That's when I started cursing my head off. ((Sorry about my language, but Rake's there.)) "WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING, YOU BOOTLESS, HELL-HATED MEASLE!" I smirked and mumbled, "That's true Shakespeare for you!" But he wasn't scared, and I heard the noise in my doorway before I could see him. It was just a slight creak, and then the ching of a sword being unsheathed, the thump of it hitting flesh. I braced myself for the pain, but instead the body of the Rake hit the ground. "It's about time he- What the? I know you!"