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The Drowning People

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  1,018 ratings  ·  129 reviews
"My wife of more than forty-five years shot herself yesterday afternoon. At least that is what the police assume, and I am playing the part of grieving widower with enthusiasm and success... It was I who killed her." Thus begins the much-hyped first novel by 20-year-old Oxford undergraduate Richard Mason. Your typical murder mystery The Drowning People is not, for we are g ...more
Paperback, 367 pages
Published January 27th 2000 by Penguin (first published January 1st 1999)
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Yes, everyone said it and I agree, the opening sentences are riveting. Sadly, the novel doesn't live up to their promise. I knew how young the author was before I started the book and from that perspective I'm very impressed with his work, however I found the book to be too predictable and much too long for a predictable novel for my taste. I also felt that the Gothic feel of the book would have benefited from being set in a more appropriate decade, it's a bit distracting to be occasionally remi ...more
I enjoyed this book very much. Richard Mason's first novel was quite impressive. I was hooked from the first page. His characters jumped off the page, they seem so real to me. I also read The History of a Pleasure Seeker, which I also loved. I had the honor of meeting Richard Mason in April at Booktopia 2012 Vermont. I look forward to reading other novels by Mr. Mason.
Told from the point of view of the 70-year-old James Farrell, who has just recently murdered his wife, "Drowning People" tells the tragic, desperate tale of the chain of events which ultimately led him to murder.

In the style of Fyodor Dostoevsky's "A Gentle Creature", the story begins shortly after the wife's death, with James deciding to make sense of the situation by reviewing their history together.

But the comparison ends there, for where "A Gentle Creature" is short and punchy, "Drowning Peo
Wow! I really loved this book, the writing was so "smart". The imagery the author created through detailed descriptions of feelings and thought allowed me to feel almost as a voyeur inside the mind of James Farrell. This story begins in the latter years of one man's life, immediately after killing his wife. This is not a spoiler to the story as it is on the book jacket and basically is the opening line of the whole journey. What the author (Richard Mason) then does is goes back to when James was ...more
"Anime alla Deriva" - Richard Mason(1999)

James Farrell, anziano violinista ormai in pensione uccide sua moglie, e non ne è pentito, perchè? Il perchè ce lo racconta nelle 350 pagine che ripercorrono tutta la sua vita, gli avvenimenti tragici e assurdi, le tristi coincidenze che hanno fatto di una vita innocente, un inganno perpetuo.
Un amore difficile per Ella, ricca rampolla londinese, egoista e insicura che richiederà a James una prova d'amore, e lui ignora nella sua inesperienza di ventenne,
Lazarus P Badpenny Esq
Overhyped overheated overwrought eyewash.
Mindy Conde
This book had me from the very first page. The narrator is James Farrell, who when we begin the book, has just admitted to shooting his wife of over forty years in the head. He doesn't feel a stitch of remorse over it, in fact, he feels as though he has served a just punishment. Wow, ok. Way to draw a reader in. The rest of the novel is his retelling of his life and that of his true love, Ella, his dear friend, Eric, and the intertwining of all their lives with his now deceased wife, Sarah. Jame ...more
Everyone alive today will or has already felt the haunt of growing old. We’ll all tremble at the thought of regrets and maybe even fear the sweeping hand of death. When we approach the end we will all look back on our lives, pose ‘what if’s to ourselves and wonder what would, should, could have been. The aging James Farrell is no different from us. He knows his time is coming; His judgement day is dawning. He also knows that what has happened has happened and no amount of urging will make his yo ...more
Giuseppe D
It might have been seriously better if it hadn't been so very predictable. The author keeps repeating the same things about how remembering gets him digressing on things that are not really important( could have said it just once, twice tops). The storyline is quite good and ghostly enough for it to be a "bad romance". The feelings of the characters are well depicted and I really liked that. In the end though I was waiting for some unexpected twist in the plot that never came. Too bad!

Se non fos
Aug 20, 2012 Liz rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
I picked this book up at the $0.25 library sale. I had to read a bit of the cover just to know if it was a romance (which I avoid at all costs) novel, and this is what I read, 'My wife of 40 years shot herself yesterday afternoon, at last that is what the police assume.' Good enough for me!

I'm going to preface this little critique by stating that I have never written a book, nor do I believe myself to be successfully capable of doing so… however… within two pages, I realized two thing; it was wr
Ubik 2.0
La trama di "Anime alla deriva" può apparire più o meno interessante rispetto ad altri melodrammi simili, ma non è questo il suo punto di debolezza.

Il problema è invece che, per motivi anche imperscrutabili, il romanzo non riesce minimamente ad avvincere il lettore e questo per un melodramma è un guaio serio! I monologhi, i tormenti e le crisi interiori dei personaggi sembrano scritti da una mano furba ma sempre poco ispirata o poco partecipe, con fastidiose ripetizioni e colpi di scena prevedi
Quando sapevamo...

Se non me lo avessero regalato -e se non stimassi i gusti di chi me lo ha regalato- non mi sarei rimessa in discussione con Mason.
Anni fa avevo letto (meglio: iniziato a leggere) Noi e, disgustata -l e t t e r a l m e n t e-, lo avevo addirittura riportato in libreria (che per me è il tentativo massimo d'allontanamento, ma con senso di colpa annesso. Una tortura insomma).

Anime alla deriva, invece, ha tutte le imperfezioni di un'opera prima, ma anche tutto il pudore, l'urgenza e
Ok, I thought I was on a roll, two 5 star books in a row. But this one doesn't quite merit 5 stars. Which is not to say that it isn't a rollicking good yarn, filled to bursting with melodrama, intrigue, young love, madness, egotism, etc. It has a fabulous opening line, where the author confesses to murdering his wife, and the following pages do not dissapoint much. I guess when we take into account that the author was 20 when the book was published, we can forgive him the overblown tone and the ...more
Why would a man kill his wife after 45 years of happy marriage. Sarah had a secret which he unexpectedly discovered, but what she had done all of those years ago had changed his life forever. This is a book about love, family secrets, revenge, betrayal, and identity. Ultimately a sad story for all of the characters involved.
Christine Seifert
I bought this book after hearing the author interviewed by Nancy Pearl, my authority on all things book. I liked the plot and the setting, but the narrator's obsessive ruminations became tiresome. I'm sure that was the point. I felt like I was drowning in his endless thoughts, which, of course, is exactly how he felt. Ultimately, I'm glad I stuck with it, even though I wanted the narrator to periodically say, "Let me just give you the short version." That probably speaks more to my damaged atten ...more
An atmospheric, literate, lyrical mystery which takes on such complex issues as true love, jealousy, madness, and the distance one would go to achieve what one truly believes to belong to oneself. Although some readers might find themselves impatient with its deliberate pacing, yet the beauty of this tale is not the core of its mystery, which is not very intricate and becomes somewhat obvious quite a bit before the end of the book; rather, the charm of this book is almost all in its telling.

Tammy Lee
I loved this was like a good du Maurier, it grabbed me right away and kept me enthralled, turning pages, thinking what next. From the first line of a blunt confession of murder, James goes back 50 years and begins the retelling of events in his life that led up to this point.

The book was full from cover to cover of intrigue, melodrama, madness, family secrets, betrayal and revenge. And the ultimate identity of the characters. It was full of detailed description and imagery that gave m
Another example of a fine book which would have been so much better with fewer pages. Mason has a tendency to want to hold your hand and explain everything to the reader. I'm not spoiling anything my saying that the narrator has killed his wife so the entire book is spent explaining what led up to that event. However there is a big twist near the end that I did not see coming at all and I did enjoy the story.
I enjoyed this book quite a bit. The characters were solidly drawn and the plot was quite interesting, if not altogether unpredictable. The structure of the novel was interesting, but left some loose ends since the audience of the narrator was never revealed. Still, it was entertaining and all the more impressive considering the youth of the author.
Nikki Golden
I started reading this book, only to discover I had already read it. It was just as bad the second time around. The plot is intriguing, but the writing is so over the top melodramatic, and the two main characters are so droll that you don't care about them very much.
Carolyn F.

I listened to the book so there was no way to go back and figure out if he really had met Ella in the 1990s. So was this futuristic?

I figured out who did what pretty quickly but that didn't diminish the book at all. The beginning totally grabbed me and I loved the ending. I couldn't have forgiven (view spoiler) but then again
Title: The Drowning People:A fatal web these people weave.

The Setup (Overview):

James Farrell sits in the house that he shared with his wife for the last forty years. In the next room his wife lies dead, the gun she put to her head still in her hand. To anyone walking in it looks like a obvious case of suicide. In the coming days there will be questions of why. James will play the grieving husband tell the police and his family that he has no idea why his loving wife would take her life and that
H. Rose
Truly fascinating novel. Opening is brilliant, then it becomes a somewhat cumbersome dance between the past and present. Flashbacks are awkward and powerful at best and entirely interfere with the story and its flow at worst. Still, this an astonishing first novel with certain passages that presage a rare type of literary genius. Awkward bits aside, this is a book to read and re-read (at least once more). Think emotional, decadent, despairing and an utter lack of redemption. Not for those who mu ...more
Der Roman beginnt mit dem Geständnis des gescheiterten Musikers James Ferall das er nach 45 Jahren Ehe seine Frau umgebracht hat. Um sich selbst und seine Motive zu erklären beginnt er mit der Schilderung seiner Jugend und den Ereignissen die zu dieser Tat geführt haben.
Um ehrlich zu sein habe ich mich die ersten 300 Seiten wirklich gelangweilt, was beträchtlich ist, wenn man bedenkt das das Buch etwas über 400 besitzt. Das lag zum einen an den Sätzen, die so verschachtelt waren, das es schwer w
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
One of my favorites -- literally has all the elements of what a good book should be (betrayal, jealousy, love triangle, coming of age, mystery, glamour) and he was only 21 when he wrote it!

It is narrated by James, a man in his 70s who has just killed his wife, Sarah. James then looks back on his life and the events leading as to why he just killed his wife of 45 years. In his youth, James fell in love with Ella Harcourt, a beautiful, glamorous girl with a dark family history. Ella's family, wit
Alright so just finished this lengthy verbose tale of a silly twenty something year old man, his life, his love and his foolishness and honestly dont know what to say about it..I have dubbed this a "smart girl" read as it involved frequent trips to my trusty thesaurus and grammar refresher, took way too many adjectives and supercilious prose to say what it really means and meandered aimlessly in all sorts of silly subplots, location and artistic descriptions, characterizations and run on sentenc ...more
It is very hard to write a review for this book; mostly because, in hindsight, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped. This might have something to do with the hype that has been built up around it (and a review on the cover likening it to Rebecca, which set the bar quite high, as it is one of my favourites).

Initially, I found myself struggling through what I felt was quite forced dialogue and rather a contrived setting, resulting in segments of the book being somewhat unconvincing for me. Bu
Lori Anderson
Aug 27, 2009 Lori Anderson rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of "Atonement" and darker fiction
I don't know how I missed this on my book shelf, but if you SAW my book shelves, floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall beauties, you'd understand.

This book is the offering of a young author (very young -- he started this book when he was seventeen)and it's written about love found and lost, betrayal, murder, intrigue, secrets, and obsession.

The very first page of the book opens with an elderly man saying that he has just killed his wife, and that she deserved it, and then he goes on to tell his story
I enjoyed this book; it was easy to read and was written from a unique perspective. For the most part of the novel, it was easy to tell that the story was being told in a certain way for a reason, which became incredibly obvious after a while. Unfortunately that was a let-down for me as the main twist in the plot was one which I was expecting. As well as this, it tended to draw out thoughts too much, dwelling on one little thing for a few lines too long. On the whole, it's a good novel, and dese ...more
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“My wife of more than forty-years shot herself yesterday afternoon.

At least that is what the police assume, and I am playing the part of grieving widower with enthusiasm and success. Life with Sarah has schooled me in self-deception, which I find--as she did--to be an excellent training in the deceiving of others. Of course I know that she did nothing of the kind. My wife was far too sane, far too rooted in the present to think of harming herself. In my opinion she never gave a thought to what she had done. She was incapable of guilt.

It was I who killed her.”
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