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The Drowning Tree

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  2,752 ratings  ·  212 reviews
Artfully imagined, intricately detailed, eerily poignant: these are the outstanding features of Carol Goodman’s literary thrillers. She is part novelist, part craftsman—and The Drowning Tree is her newest masterpiece.

Juno McKay intended to avoid the nearby campus of her alma mater during her fifteenth reunion weekend, but she just can’t turn down the chance to see her long
Hardcover, Large Print, 507 pages
Published September 20th 2004 by Wheeler Publishing (first published January 1st 2004)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Lindsay Heller
This was my third Carol Goodman novel and from the outset it's clear; she definitely has a formula down. Secrets from the past shedding light on the present, tight knit academia, meditations on art and literature, and gripping literary mysteries. I suppose I should feel as if I've read this before (and from the same author), but instead I'm waiting for a new one in the mail.

'The Drowning Tree' is the story of Juno McKay, former artist and current expert in stained glass. She lives in the same s
Feb 22, 2010 Erin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lisa
Shelves: 2010, mysteries
Ahh, Carol Goodman. Returning to her novels is like ordering your favorite meal at a restaurant. You know exactly what to expect and will most likely enjoy it. I certainly enjoyed this one.

Juno McKay sees her best friend Christine Webb off at the train station after their fifteenth-year college reunion. Christine had just delivered a lecture at the Penrose College Library, shocking the crowd with little known details about the founding Penrose family. The next day, Christine disappears.

I find
Mar 13, 2012 Laura rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mystery lovers, mythology lovers, imaginative people
This is by far my favorite Carol Goodman book. I love the characters in it, the elements of mythology, the art, the settings, all of it. It's also one of the saddest books I've read. When I read this book the first time, in high school, it was probably the saddest book I had ever read, and it took me about a week to get the story, and especially the ending, out of my head.

This book has a lot of elements in common with other Carol Goodman books, such as the protagonist being divorced, having a ch
Why haven't I heard about this boook before? Astoundingly good.

Layers upon layers of symbolism and metaphor, from pre-Raphaelite art to Greek mythology. The layers show up not only in the characters' activities, but in the language the author chooses. The book is so lovely and carefully wrought, it makes my head spin (in a good way).

In addition, there is a mystery to be solved. Those of you who hate mysteries, I am one of you. Never read them. Nope. But I was sucked into this one by not knowing
I listened to the audio version of this novel for a suspense genre study for work. It's a contemporary Gothic set in upstate New York, where an art scholar drowns (murder? suicide?) while investigating the mysterious lives of a Victorian artist and his mentally ill sister-in-law. The book has a few creepy, atmospheric moments, but ultimately is undone by ridiculous plot twists and clunky, repetitive writing (for some reason every person or thing in the book looks like a 'medieval painting').
When I finished "The Lake of Dead Languages" about a month ago, I couldn't wait to read more by Carol Goodman. I liked everything about it: the setting, the characters, the references to art, literature and classical mythology, and the mystery (although it wasn't very hard to solve). Those same elements make "The Drowning Tree" worth reading too, but the similarities go so far that I sometimes wondered whether I wasn't still reading the same book. Single mother with daughter faces mysterious dev ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Margo Brooks
Carol Goodman is one of my favorite authors, but when you read her novels, you know you are going to have a female main character who is a writer, artist, art historian or some closely related field, a closed community of some sort and a mystery that links past and present. But her writing is so lyrical and her plots so interesting, that it doesn't matter. You fall into the mood and stay there till the end.

In this novel, best friends from college are, 15 years later, both working on their alma
Marika Gillis
Jan 21, 2010 Marika Gillis rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Erin, Shannon, Andie
Shelves: fiction, mysteries
Juno's best friend, Christine, mysteriously disappears after giving a controversial speech about the influential founding family of the college they both attended. As Juno searches for answers about her friend's disappearance, her own dramatic past- the unplanned pregnancy that kept her from graduating, her former husband's attempt to drown Juno and her daughter, and his subsequent admittance to a nearby mental hospital- begins to emerge in uncomfortable and haunting ways.

Dark, mysterious, and f
Jul 25, 2007 Eilene rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like myths
Shelves: fondmemories
Once again, Goodman delivers with a fabulous setting seemingly drawn from her own imagination. I would wager that Goodman has spent time in upstate New York, because she writes of the place as if she knows it, as if she has thought it was beautiful for a long time. And it sounds amazing, her descriptions make me want to visit so much more than any of those "Discover (insert state here)" commercials I see on television.
The Drowning Tree also has that element of myth woven into the story. The bac
Feb 16, 2008 Kirsten rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kirsten by: Jen Tait
After fifteen years, Juno McKay returns to Penrose College, her alma mater, to hear her friend Christine Webb give a lecture on a famous stained-glass window that graces the college library. Juno is reluctant to return, given that she dropped out of college shortly before graduation to give birth to her daughter, Bea, and to marry her boyfriend, Neil, who was institutionalized a year later. Loyalty to Christine wins out, however, and Juno is gratified but also concerned when Christine reveals so ...more
I tried to wade through all the pretentious quotes in Latin, the lessons in Greek mythology, the prestigious school name-dropping, among other things, but after 70 pages I still couldn't find a story in this book. If you're really interested in the art of stain-glass making or the rowing sport--crew, then you'll enjoy the tedious, mind-numbing descriptions that go on ad nauseam. Unfortunately, I don't find either subject very appealing, especially not in the dosages the author is handing out. Wh ...more
Ms. Goodman gives me a solid read for the second time around. I enjoyed “The Ghost Orchid” sometime back. I came across “The Drowning Tree” and was happy to curl up with it. She held my attention. I sped through the book. I love the way she sets the pace of the story. She gives you action and then backs off a bit to build tension. It is the perfect atmospheric thriller.

I also enjoy the way she paints a picture and develops the atmosphere as you read. I didn’t feel as tightly drawn to this set o
I always learn something from Carol Goodman's novels. She has a magical way of blending the classics into her storyline, so that while I'm rooting for various characters, I'm also getting bits of Greek and Roman mythology, history, and a bit of Latin, to boot.

This was another such novel (many of hers seem to involve classics, art, water, and female schoolmates) that brought in the many angles of love and loyalty. I really was intrigued by all the information on stained glassworks, and wish I co
This book had some good moments, but mostly it was just a hot mess. There was way too much going on in the story and much of it was impossible to believe. (view spoiler) Too many blind alleys and crisscrossing plot lines, to the point that I'm still not sure what exactly happened or what it all meant. I've read other Carol Goodman titles and have really enjoyed ...more
Carol Goodman continues with her theme of secrets-from-the-past in her third book. Once again, she's created a world that I became completely absorbed in and a mystery that I couldn't figure out. Each time I thought "ah ha, THIS is what happened" the main character thought of it herself and sent the story in another direction by disproving it.

It happens too often that I love someone's debut novel and then end up disappointed in everything that follows, so I'm really glad Goodman isn't falling vi
Stained glass restoration expert Juno McKay, despite dreading questions about the pregnancy that prevented her from graduating and her institutionalized ex-husband, reluctantly returns to her alma mater for what would have been her fifteenth reunion weekend. Christine, Juno's best friend, is the keynote speaker who will be lecturing on the renowned stained glass window which the class will be sponsoring the restoration of. However, following a controversial lecture chock-full of shocking details ...more
There's a possible murder at a snooty women's college, and the only way the heroine can save the day is with her vast knowledge of Greek/Roman mythology and 19th Century stained glass techniques. It's a book that lets you feel good about your liberal arts education.
DIdn't like it - If you want to read a fine book about time travel and romance - try Possession by A. S. Byatt
Natalie Carey
This was really good. The lavish descriptions and imagery of water, glass, trees, and statues morphing into water and tress that were prominent throughout were so captivating. They really put the reader into the atmosphere of upstate New York, as well as into the madness state of mind that also predominated and was a strong theme throughout the story.

I was, however, disappointed in the reveal of Christine's murderer. (view spoiler)
This was the prototypical "nice read" for me. The book built up enough suspense to follow through, some passages were gripping and made the book a real page-turner. Other passages, however, were quite slow and seemed to hinder the natural flow of the story without adding suspense or atmosphere. It were these passages which made me struggle to finish the book. Part of the problem was the narrative perspective - a first person present tense narrative voice - which I was not particularly fond of.

Usually, once you’ve read a few books by an author, you start to pick up on some recurring motifs and character types. When this works well, you get a distinct sense of that author’s style, of the themes and concepts and places that are significant to the writer, but each book is still a new experience. With The Drowning Tree, however, I was barely able to keep the plot separate from The Lake of Dead Languages and the other Goodman books I’d already read. There were so many recycled elements – e ...more
Alayne Bushey
I’m not joking when I say Carol Goodman could be my idol. Granted, I’ve only read two of her books, but she’s exactly the kind of writer I hope to be some day. Her novels are full of artistic and literary themes, with beautifully dynamic settings. Who wouldn’t want to write such intriguingly mysterious books?

The Drowning Tree centers around Juno McKay as she’s forced to confront her past during a reunion at Penrose College. When her best friend, Christine Webb, is chosen to give a speech on a fa
"It’s been thirteen years since I last saw Neil – and fourteen years since we both nearly drowned in the river – and I still dream about him every night, and because he told me once that he believed that we could visit each other in our dreams, I always have the feeling that that is what he’s doing – coming to me in my dreams each night." – The Drowning Tree

Carol Goodman’s interest in Latin and Art and Literature is obvious. The first novel I read by her, The Lake of Dead Languages concerned a L
Jen K.
Upon reading the second Carol Goodman book that has been sitting on my bookshelf for too many years, and after having recently read Girl With the Dragon Tattoo after putting both off for fear they'd be nightmare-producing (I don't like scary books) I have learned three things:

1. The thriller/suspense genre is nothing like the horror genre. It doesn't produce nightmares.

2. After reading the three thriller/suspense genre books I've read recently, while realizing that thriller/suspense novels are c
Nancy Oakes
A FINE story, one which I can easily recommend. The book is paced very nicely, with enough suspense to keep you reading and wanting more. The first part of the story went a little slow but as the story continues to build, you can see why, since you really need to have a handle on each one of the characters to understand what's going on in the novel.

brief outline:

The story is narrated through Juno McKay, whose mother named her after the Roman goddess. Juno also has taken over her father's small g
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is my first Carol Goodman novel and I think I'll go back and read her earlier work. This was a really good novel. This is such a well written book - the imagery created by the author is just wonderful! I enjoyed the intermix of the modern mystery and the ancient with the use of mythology throughout the book. Really effective way to tell this particular story!

This wasn't an 'easy' read yet it wasn't what I'd characterize as difficult either. It felt a bit academic but perhaps that was more
This is, perhaps, the fourth time that I've read The Drowning Tree. Carol Goodman is a beloved author, and I return to her whenever I want an escape book, one that is both engaging and intelligent. As I've commented before on Goodman's novels, she has the amazing talent of creating these fantasical landscapes and buildings that the reader will long to visit for themselves. She manages to interweave fairy tale and mythology into her stories and, like Kate Morton's work, often has a double-mystery ...more
My sister gave me this to read in hospital after one of my surgeries years ago. It was ok. Setting was well-drawn, but characters were pretty one-dimensional and the denouement was fairly predictable. It was a good book for the purpose, which was escaping into something else for awhile and not needing to think while I did it.

The book would definitely have been better if I hadn't read it right after one of Goodman's others, The Lake of Dead Languages. Of the two, I liked the other better, but I'
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the book 2 2 20 Nov 30, 2011 01:25PM  
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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 The Seduction of Water Arcadia Falls The Ghost Orchid The Night Villa

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“You told me trees could speak
and the only reason one heard
silence in the forest
was that they had all been born knowing different languages.

That night I went into the forest
to bury dictionaries under roots,
so many books in so many tongues
as to insure speech.

and now this very moment,
the forest seems alive
with whispers and murmurs and rumblings of sound
wind-rushed into my ears.

I do not speak any language
that crosses the silence around me
but how soothing to know
that the yearning and grasping embodied
in trees’ convoluted and startling shapes
is finally being fulfilled
in their wind shouts to each other.

Yet we who both speak English
and have since we were born
are moving ever farther apart
even as branch tips touch.”
More quotes…