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The Seduction of Water
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The Seduction of Water

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  3,319 ratings  ·  306 reviews
For Iris Greenfeder--all but published, all but a professor, and all but married to her boyfriend of ten years--the sudden impulse to write a story about her mother, Katherine, leads to a shot at literary success. The piece recounts an eerie Irish fairy tale her mother used to tell her at bed-time--and nestled inside is the sad story of her mother's death, a strange, untim ...more
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Published by Sound Library (first published 2003)
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At first I was disappointed that this book wasn't as eerie and atmospheric as Goodman's The Lake of Dead Languages, which was a powerful mystery that's stayed with me for years. However, The Seduction of Water holds its own and is completely engrossing; by the time I had finished, I was a little confused about the idea that I was done with the characters and didn't get to keep following them.

Lake of Dead Languages and Seduction of Water share the element of discovering hidden parts of the past
This is my least favorite of the four Goodman novels I have read. It's not terrible, but it's not very good. Goodman starts powerfully, with a mother telling a fairy tale to her daughter, and that story becomes the key to deciphering the mysteries of the mother's life twenty-five years after her death. Goodman's typical strengths show up in the rest of the book: frequent references to appropriate myths and folklore, a dynamic interplay between the past and the present, a decent showdown when the ...more
The first book by Carol Goodman I read was The Lake of Dead Languages and that one was by far my favorite. I liked The Drowning Tree more than I thought I would, despite it lacking from the setting several of the things that really hit my sweet spots in The Lake of Dead Languages - namely, Latin, very cold weather and a lot of loving descriptions of ice, and a lesbian romance subplot. The Seduction of Water ranks third on this list for sure. Because of the order I was reading the books, it seeme ...more
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This book gets 3 stars from me as opposed to 2 because Goodman is a good writer. It's not, however, a very good book, and considering my feelings about the other two of her books that I've read, I'm not sure why I picked it up in the first place. I reviewed The Lake of Dead Languages and The Drowning Tree at the same time, so my reviews of them are practically identical, and what they say is that Goodman is formulaic, her characters are one-dimensional, her plots are predictable, and while they' ...more
Maia B.
I really like this book. It's well-written, fascinating, detailed, multi-layered, and full of beautiful fairy tales. Why, then, do I feel compelled to only give it three stars?

I think it's the ending. Up until that point, I was coasting along smoothly, enjoying the characters, the writing, the developments I wasn't expecting. Then - boom - a complicated, intricate, confusing let's-just-wrap-it-up-quickly ending smacked me in the face. I've read the book twice now, and each time I couldn't quite
"The Seduction of Water" is a novel I came across a while after I read Carol Goodman's "The Lake of Dead Languages", the latter one of my favorite novels to date for its potent imagery, school-based stories of past and present, and careful character interactions molded into a tight mystery/suspense.

"The Seduction of Water" has an interesting premise regarding a woman named Iris Greenfeder, who decides to publish the story of a tale her mother, a published author, had once told Iris as a little g
Dec 14, 2011 Rebekkila rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like Irish folk lore
I liked this book, just not as much as I liked "The Lake of Dead Languages". She is really great about creating an atmosphere that is slightly tense and menacing at the same time. With both books I could tell how they would end I liked the way the story unfolded in TLoDL much better. Maybe if I had not read the two books so close together I would have rated this one higher. I think it is suffering from the comparison.

The book was about how a woman weaved a story about her own life while incorpor
I've been reading some pretty dark suspense/mystery books, and my soul felt rather battered. This book was a wonderful antidote to hard-core realism -- a story within a story, mystery, and, despite some violence in it, a gentle tale of a daughter in search of her mother, or of her mother's story, both personal and a manuscript written before the mother died twenty years before. I loved the setting in the Hudson Valley, which made me want to return there for a visit, if only to catch that light o ...more
A novel about searching for the truth and family secrets. Iris Greenfeder is a struggling writer who, after selling an essay about her mother (a semi-famous fantasy writer who died under mysterious circumstances and never finished the third book of her trilogy), is commissioned to write a memoir about her mother and takes a job at the hotel in upstate New York where they lived. Deliberately paced with well described settings, I enjoyed this book for the most part but did think there were a few t ...more
Just Another Reader
The Seduction of Water is a surprisingly good read—I mean, I didn’t expect it as I randomly selected the book from a bargain bookstore. This is my first time reading a book by Carol Goodman, and I intend to read her other works after being completely enthralled in the protagonist’s quest in unlocking the mystery of her mother’s past.

Iris, an English instructor and daughter of a fantasy novel writer, dreams of becoming a published author one day. The opportunity presents itself when her mother’s
Another good mystery by Carol Goodman, this is the story of Iris Greenfeder, who has finished all but her dissertation. She teaches the English classes that the tenured professors do not want. An assignment to her older students from different ethnic backgrounds, is a unit on folk tales. Iris uses her mother's two-part published Irish fairy tale of the "Selkies" as an example. She is contacted by a literary agent from New York to find her mother's missing third manuscript and to write a story of ...more
I picked this book up at a secondhand book stand at a farmers market. Figuring it might be a good beach read I bought it...and I'm glad I did. I'm not sure what I expected of it but I found it a big beguiling and delightful. It's a fun story that weaves together a mystery and a romance and some art history as well as fairy tales. It's not the type of book I would normally read but every now and then it's a nice departure. Like some of the other reviewers, I can comment that the ending wraps up a ...more
My family thoroughly enjoyed this book. The fairy tale of the Selkie within the book is spellbinding. My intention was not to read a fairy tale but Goodman captivates and makes me want to simply continue on with this terrific fairy tale.

And then, the story switches to Iris Greenfeder and her life as an aspiring author and teacher of writing and how she comes to be attached to two men at the same time, an ex-convict and a struggling artist.

Iris is in search of her deceased mother's manuscript, th
I liked this much better than Night Villa, my first Carol Goodman novel. It was an enjoyable mystery with plenty of twists, and I especially liked the parallel fairy tale. I am glad that this book club selection induced me to give Goodman another try and would probably pick up another of her novels when in the mood for a mystery. (3.5 stars)
Spoiler alert but if first like to discourage readers to pick this one up:

This book was painful to finish. About as bad as Lake of Dead Languages was good. Even the last few pages were a struggle ---John, Rose, Harry, Peter, Vera, Sophie, Aidan---each one of these characters were so flat I did not care at all how the story came together.

The most compelling part of was the nun's sad tale about the McGlynn family but it was not credible that any of the characters had it in them to go at each othe
Struggling to jump start her literary career, floundering writer and adjunct professor Iris Greenfeder decides to pursue questions of her mother's long past mysterious death and subsequently never completed fantasy trilogy. Spurned on by her mother's agent and a desire to unravel the secrets of her family's past, Iris returns to the Catskills hotel of her youth, her mother's writing haven and the starting point of her parents' love affair. A Gothic tale rife with mystery, secret identities, and ...more
Fast read. Having lived in NYC and taken the train MANY times up the Hudson I enjoyed the experience of being back in that area. Enjoyed the characters and discovering the "mystery" along with the main character.
BEWARE of spoilers. One man's bookflap summary is another man's spoiler. I don't hide or promote my reviews.


This is more than a summer romance-mystery novel, though that's how it started out.

It's also a look at the writing process, the process of grieving a parent who seems to have died during a moral compromise, the process of dealing with professional rivals, the processes of falling in and out of love.

Author Carolyn Goodman also threw in some interesting history about the Catskill reso
Shelley Renee
This book did not enthrall me at all. Reading other reviews, it seems that a lot of people think Goodman's other books are better. If so, it's too bad I read this one first, as I'm not sure if I will give anything else by her a try or not.

Some of the reviews of this book (on the cover and in publication stuff) call this book a "thriller." That is most certainly is not - whoever uses that description does not know the difference between a thriller and a mystery. This is a mystery....but for me, o
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 11, 2010 Leah rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Leah by: Viluna Jennings
This book was lent to me by my dance instructor. Seems like she's been on a Carol Goodman kick lately. Oddly enough, I remember reading an excerpt from this book a long time ago, probably when it first came out. I really liked it and wanted to read the entire novel, but after awhile I forgot what it was called. I even tried posting on the BookCrossing boards to see if anyone could identify it but to no avail. And then here, like four years later, it shows up at dance class! How cool is that?

This book wasn't what I'd expected from reading the back of it--I was expecting something like Possession, a double-layered literary story with romance, but this is more 'what you don't know about your family can get you killed.' I did like the literary elements, as the whole thing was tied into fairy tale/fantasy books written by the main character's mother, but could have done without the thriller elements.

Also, for at least 2/3 of the book I just found all the characters, including the main c
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Pg 37-38
“Tam Lin got off his horse and went over to the girl. On his way he saw a rose and picked it for her – figuring she’d be less afraid if he gave her a present. He pricked his finger on the thorns, though, and cried out. He was pretty embarrassed that the girl saw him hurt himself, but then she got out her handkerchief and wrapped it around Tam Lin’s hand and made a fuss over him. You see, that’s how she knew he wasn’t really a dairy. Because he bled.
“Come with me,” the girl said, when s
Lindsay Heller
The sign of a Carol Goodman is Upstate New York atmosphere, mysteries from the past, and plot twists that could easily be considered trashy in the wrong hands. 'The Seduction of Water' doesn't disappoint on any of these levels. I started reading this book, actually, on a recent vacation when I was in the Hudson Valley. Knowing Carol Goodman it seemed appropriate. This one takes place partially in New York City and partially in a grand old, though past its prime, hotel in the Catskills where the ...more
Nancy Oakes
The book opens as Iris Greenfelder is recalling how she would feel when her mother told her her favorite bedtime story, "The Selkie's Daughter." The story is Iris' main connection to her mother. Iris was the daughter of Kay & Ben Greenfelder, who ran (not owned) the Hotel Equinox, a grand place high up in the Catskills in the woods. The selkie is a seal who, twice a year, shed her skin & became a woman for a night. The catch is she can be caught by capturing her shed skin & taking it ...more
ris Greenfeder has a lot of almost's in her life, she's almost in an amazing relationship, almost (well, ok not almost) done with her dissertation and almost has all the knowledge she ever wants to know about her mother. While teaching English for new immigrants, indifferent art students and convicts she comes up with an assignment about Fairytales of peoples childhood. Her assignment inspires her to start writing about her mother, a famous novelist herself and sets her in motion to go back to t ...more
Lisa H.
I started out loving this book, but by about 2/3 of the way through I fell out of love and nearly into boredom. My very shallow analysis: it kept feeling like there was more to the story that would be revealed, but when the time came ------ not so much.

The narrator, Iris Greenfeder, is a part-time college instructor and sometime doctoral candidate who teaches writing to several different audiences: art school students, a group of adults with limited English proficiency, and a class of inmates in
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preparation to weave a plot 1 13 Apr 22, 2008 08:12PM  
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Carol Goodman is the author of The Lake of Dead Languages, The Fairwick Chronicles, Watchtower Trilogy (with husband Lee Slonimsky), and the forthcoming young adult Blythewood series. Her work has appeared in such journals as The Greensboro Review, Literal Latt, The Midwest Quarterly, and Other Voices. After graduation from Vassar College, where she majored in Latin, she taught Latin for several y ...more
More about Carol Goodman...
The Lake of Dead Languages Arcadia Falls The Drowning Tree The Ghost Orchid The Night Villa

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“We don't get to choose what truths God reveals to us -- but we do get to choose what we do with the truths -- whom we share it with and how.” 0 likes
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