Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Whirlpool” as Want to Read:
The Whirlpool
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Whirlpool

3.42  ·  Rating Details ·  77 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Written in luminous prose, The Whirlpool is a haunting tale set in Niagara Falls, Ontario, in the summer of 1889. This is the season of reckless river stunts, a time when the undertaker’s widow is busy with funerals, her days shadowed by her young son’s curious silence. Across the street in Kick’s Hotel, where Fleda and her husband, David McDougal, have temporary rooms, Fl ...more
Hardcover, 214 pages
Published February 1st 1990 by David R. Godine Publisher (first published 1990)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Whirlpool, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Whirlpool

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jun 25, 2015 Margarita rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
There is a dreamy, elusive quality to Urquhart's writing that draws me in. Her writing is ethereal and could best be described as lightly skimming a water's surface. What this book missed in mark by way of story - all of the pieces didn't quite click together smoothly enough for me - it made up for in spades by way of mood.
Brenda Almond
Read while on a trip to Niagara Falls, Canadian side. Found it to be a little weird. Never fully connected the son in the story. Enjoyed Patrick and his poetry and his obsession with Fleda and the "dancing in and out of each other's life".
Adrienne Jones
Jane Urquhart has written two of my favorite books (The Underpainter and Away A Novel. Her more recent The Stone Carvers retained some of her splendid sense of place, but it didn't win me over like her earlier books.

When I sought out The Whirlpool, I was unable to find a US edition. That made me uneasy, so I shelved the book for years until a night of insomnia left me roaming the bookshelf for distraction.

The Whirlpool is definitely a first novel. Despite its relatively short length the book see
Shonna Froebel
This is a novel with many layers, complex and slow. The novel takes place in the summer of 1889.
Patrick works for the government in Ottawa, but has been having issues and has come to stay with his aunt and uncle in Niagara Falls. He is also a published poet and his interest in nature has him wandering in the forest, staring at the river, and interested in a woman he sees on his forest wanderings.
Fleda is the woman in the forest. Fleda's husband David McDougal is fascinated by the War of 1812 and
The book was alright. The writing was extremely well done, you wouldn't know it was the author's first novel based on the quality and style of writing. But I did find that the characters and the story itself fell a little flat for me.

All of the characters are rather eccentric, they all have their own struggles they are trying to deal with. And the author shows that throughout the book. There is no denying that the characters were well developed and written, but there was always something missing
Sep 08, 2016 Carol rated it it was amazing
Set in the summer of 1889, is the beauty of Niagara Falls which is amazing to those who journey there. People have the ability to shift and change, some like forest wanderings, and others like the whirlpool. Fleda is the woman in the forest, who lives in a tent, realizes that Patrick is watching her, which she is both unnerved and flattered. She wants to increase the connection with him, but her need has an outcome she didn't envision. Maud, the widow of the undertaker, still in charge of the fu ...more
David R. Godine
May 19, 2010 David R. Godine rated it it was amazing
"The Whirlpool is a jewel of a book: its finely polished facets are full of light, yet suggest numerous depths … Urquhart's moody, incisive and shimmering prose, her cleverness and wit soar."
Toronto Globe and Mail

"Urquhart's dreamy, circular prose draws the reader in as surely as her characters are pulled to their destiny by the inescapable suction of the whirlpool. Highly recommended."
Library Journal

"A strange and sensual first novel. . . Miss Urquhart is a special writer, worth watching on
Kathryn Jennex
Mar 05, 2012 Kathryn Jennex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
My first entry into Urquharts' world where water falls play a significant part in the weaving of a story about a summer in Niagara Falls and the magic the tragedy and magic that happen there in 1869.

*sigh* I should re-read all I have read and start the new!
I was quite disappointed with this book, having absolutely *loved* Away. I found The Whirlpool to be depressing and generally blah. Jane Urquhart really is a lovely writer - this book just wasn't for me.
Matthew Ledrew
Apr 20, 2015 Matthew Ledrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance, un-reviewed
Multi-form storytelling at it’s best, and a must for sci-fi writers: because it isn’t sci-fi. I think you need to learn to write without the sci-fi before you can write successfully with it.
Oct 14, 2012 Anne rated it really liked it
Set in Niagara Falls. The whirlpool comes after the falls, and the book centers on the lives of the people who lose their lives there every year. Very dreamlike and beautiful. Her first novel.
Sharon Goforth
Sharon Goforth rated it really liked it
May 25, 2016
Dominic Horst
Dominic Horst rated it liked it
Jul 06, 2016
Christine durant
Christine durant rated it really liked it
Aug 20, 2007
Julia Collins
Julia Collins rated it really liked it
Aug 06, 2011
Renée Frechette
Renée Frechette rated it liked it
Mar 13, 2016
Linda rated it liked it
Jun 03, 2011
Michael rated it really liked it
Jan 04, 2017
Laura Elisabeth
Laura Elisabeth rated it it was amazing
May 12, 2010
Wiebke rated it liked it
Oct 16, 2014
Breña rated it it was amazing
Nov 03, 2011
Nelstar rated it it was amazing
Nov 07, 2010
Mel rated it it was amazing
Mar 10, 2008
Daryl rated it really liked it
Dec 20, 2013
Louisa Ielo
Louisa Ielo rated it it was ok
Jan 06, 2015
Dorothea rated it liked it
May 10, 2016
Donna rated it liked it
Aug 27, 2013
Michael Griffin
Michael Griffin rated it really liked it
Dec 31, 2016
Ronald Kelland
Ronald Kelland rated it it was amazing
Aug 14, 2013
Sandra rated it liked it
Dec 10, 2016
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
She is the author of seven internationally acclaimed novels entitled, The Whirlpool, Changing Heaven, Away, The Underpainter, The Stone Carvers, A Map of Glass, and Sanctuary Line.

The Whirlpool received the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger (Best Foreign Book Award). Away was winner of the Trillium Book Award and a finalist for the prestigious International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. The Un
More about Jane Urquhart...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »