Palace of the Drowned
In Venice, Frances Croy is working to leave the previous year behind: another novel published to little success, a scathing review she can’t quite manage to forget, and, most of all, the real reason behind her self-imposed exile from London: the incident at the Savoy.
Sequestered within an aging palazzo, Frankie finds comfort in the emptiness of Venice in winter, in the absence of others.
And then Gilly appears.
A young woman claiming a connection from back home, one that Frankie can’t quite seem to recall, Gilly seems determined for the two women to become fast friends. But there’s something about her that continues to give Frankie pause, that makes her wonder just how much of what Gilly tells her is actually the truth.
Those around Frankie are quick to dismiss her concerns, citing what took place that night at the Savoy. So too do they dismiss Frankie’s claims that someone is occupying the other half of the palazzo, which has supposedly stood empty since after the war. But Frankie has seen the lights across the way, has heard the footsteps too-and what’s more, knows she isn’t mad.
Set in the days before and after the 1966 flood – the worst ever experienced by the city of Venice – the trajectory of the disaster that forever altered the city mirrors Frankie’s own inner turmoil as she struggles to make sense of what is and is not the truth, ultimately culminating in a tragedy that leaves her questioning her own role and responsibility – as well as her sanity.
In her taut and mesmerizing follow up to Tangerine, the preternaturally gifted Christine Mangan plunges us into another exotic and bewitchingly rendered locale, this time Venice off-season, moody and damp, where well-known novelist Frankie Croy has gone to escape dark memories. Instead, a surprise entanglement with a mysterious young woman sets Frankie on edge, threatening to unravel her already precarious mental state. Voluptuously atmospheric and surefooted at every turn, Palace of the Drowned more than delivers on the promise of Mangan's debut, and firmly establishes her as a writer of consequence -- Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife and When the Stars Go Dark
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