The Lake of Dead Languages
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The Lake of Dead Languages

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3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  6,568 ratings  ·  637 reviews
In the evocative tradition of Donna Tartt’s first novel, The Secret History, comes this accomplished debut of youthful innocence drowned by dark sins. Twenty years ago, Jane Hudson left the Heart Lake School for Girls in the Adirondacks after a terrible tragedy. Now she has returned to the placid, isolated shores of the lakeside school as a Latin teacher, recently separate...more
Paperback, 390 pages
Published 2002 by William Heinemann (first published January 1st 1978)
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Kate
Hmm. One of those books you want to be done with but have to finish to see how it ends. Kind of a thriller, kind of a mystery. The narrator is a former student of all-girls' school Heart Lake who comes back to teach Latin as an adult. In her time there as a student, both of her roommates committed suicide, and now someone seems to be recreating this past aggressively and accusatorily (I may have made this word up; if not, I spelled it wrong). This novel was like an overstuffed sandwich with too...more
Molly
I am always drawn to any aisle with books, and I've often scanned the titles at Target, remembering bits of titles for the library or for the independent bookstore in town.

And it began fine, with that ghostly tone, but quickly took a predictable turn, and even worse--certain instances within the book seemed to be explained to the reader, as if the reader weren't smart enough to catch symbol, metaphor, theme. This became less about language (so early) and easily about faulty twists. I agree with...more
Oroboros72
This is the first Carol Goodman book that I read, and despite myself I read two of her others even after being so irritated with this one. And I felt the exact same way about all of them. They all have great symbolism, exciting twists, interesting layers of metaphor and intertwined stories. And they are all utterly ruined by Goodman not giving her reader any credit whatsoever. When you almost have that satisfied 'Ah, I have figured something out' or 'ah, that symbol has reappeared here' She slam...more
Renee
I really enjoyed Goodman's writing, but I had to remove stars because I figured out all of the plot twists before they happened, which made for a bit of an anticlimactic ending. I spent the second half of the book wanting to shake Jane and say "REALLY?! This is painfully obvious!!!" I really can't say if this predictability is due to Goodman's inadequacies or my teenage tendency to read V.C. Andrews books. Things that Goodman seems to consider shocking were really pretty tame compared to what An...more
Darren L.
I'm only about 20% into this novel, but I'm already impressed by the seemingly effortless but genuinely elegant prose. This lady can write. Several of the characters (in both the past and in the present) reach their hands up from the page and become spooky real. I'm crossing my fingers that it doesn't fall apart as I go farther.

***Okay, finished it. Interestingly enough, there were so many people who compared this to The Secret History that I read it too. Oddly enough, I liked Carol Goodman's Th...more
Amy
Oh, wow...where to begin. There were elements of this book that I wanted to give 5 stars. The story, the plot, the intertwining of characters and their histories. A nice reveal at the end (although it was very predictable). The problem was the pacing. I felt like I was reading the book f...o...r...e...v...e...r. At one point I actually stared at the page number, 287, and could not believe there were STILL 100 more pages to go. Too much detail and description when it was way beyond the need for s...more
Barbara
I don’t know why I picked up this book, but it must have been based on a bookseller’s recommendations. I had no idea what to expect, but the book quickly drew me in. The protagonist, Jane Hudson, has taken refuge from her failed marriage by returning to her former boarding school in upstate New York. Pieces of the journal she kept during her senior year start appearing, reminding her of the tragedies 20 years ago – her roommate’s suicide, and then the other roommate and her brother drowning in t...more
Blake
This was the first of this author's that I had read- and I loved it. It had all the elements of what makes a good eerie mystery novel- for women. I can't really see myself recommending this to a man. That's not being sexist but it's easy to explain. Lead female character flees with 4 year old child to former boarding school set in brooding frozen upper New York isolated country to teach LATIN (of all things) in hot house atmosphere of teenage girls performing fake Goddess rituals that involve cu...more
Blair
A '9 out of 10' book - it won't be added to my list of ultimate favourites, but it was the best thing I've read for a long time. I love stories of this ilk, and The Lake of Dead Languages has everything; flashbacks to the narrator's intriguing past, buried (or rather drowned) secrets refusing to stay that way, a boarding school housed in an old mansion, parallels with classical mythology, pagan rites and ice storms. I found Jane likeable from the start, and it was easy to sympathise with her as...more
Madeline
A modern Gothic mystery - reminds me of The Secret History.
(well, technically, I read this one first, so I should say The Secret History reminded me of this book. But same difference.) Bottom line: both are incredibly creepy and really good reads.
Dardenitaaa
An all girls’ school. A Latin Class. A troubled magistra with a shady alumna past. Students writing Latin phrases on their arms and razor-slicing their wrists open. Stolen Diaries. Secret Pregnancies. Taboo Love. Suicide on ice, water and dorm rooms. Academic Pressures. Friendships gone wrong. Ghost lakes and tragic folklore. History Repeating itself.

Relax, I’m not spoiling the entire book yet. If you’re a fan of mysteries with gothic touches, and thought the themes I just listed above sounded e...more
Suzanna Tempesta
A book that starts off really good, and ends up...just bad.
Voice and Overall
I really liked the hook of the Latin classes, and I thought the beginning was good also. But after the introduction of all the characters, there was a big, and I mean big, downturn in the quality of the book.
At some point I felt like I was reading a chick-flick; with all that nonsense about hiding her diary and being worried about what Myra Todd (I think that's what her name was) would say. Another big thing I didn't li...more
Lori
This is a suspenseful, easy to read, novel that will keep you turning pages. Carol Goodman is an excellent writer that uses visual imagery paticularly well. The reader is easily able to conjure up the Adirondack setting of Heart Lake Academy for Girls with bone chilling detail especially the descriptions of the lake freezing and the sounds the ice makes. Kudo's to Goodman who explains in the back of my edition her studies and inquiries into the process a lake goes through in the freezing process...more
Doreen
Really, this book deserves 3.5 stars, and if I weren't such a hardcore mystery aficionado, it would have earned 4. Carol Goodman writes with elegance, working in her plot twists with exquisite timing, lacing her narrative with just enough misdirection to make you second-guess your assumptions. Her plotting is Gothic and literate, and were I newer to mysteries or crime, I am sure I would have loved this book as opposed to merely liking it. Alas, and as is always detrimental to my appreciation of...more
Lauren
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kristen
I really enjoyed this gothic page-turner. Goodman is a fantastic, atmospheric writer, even if she does over-rely on a few techniques: characters are constantly paling or blushing; shadows are constantly splitting off from rocks.

In the last few chapters, my attention attenuated a bit, since I'd solved all the mystery elements (thanks to her skilled deployment of dramatic irony) much, much sooner than the narrator, who's, shall we say, not the sharpest tool in the shed.

The ending was a little pat...more
Alisea
Il lago delle lingue morte

Nel nord-est degli Stati Uniti, fra i monti dell’Adirondack, vicino alla cittadina di Corinth, c’è un lago: Heart Lake. D'inverno la sua superficie si cristallizza completamente, tra gemiti e stridori delle molecole dell’acqua che diventano ghiaccio. Su una delle sue sponde sorge una villa. Un tempo era abitata dalla famiglia dei “signori” del luogo, i Cravecoeur, ma poi la loro figlia minore era morta in seguito ad una brutta influenza causata da una caduta in acqua, e...more
Cate
I read this over my spring break senior year of Kenyon, so perhaps I have fond memories of that time, all alone on campus except for a few other people who couldn't pull their comps together. When I'd made especially good progress researching and writing, I'd go to the bookstore (alas--best bookstore in the world done to death by new corportate college president who removed the kiddie tower, the used books, and the fairy tale character banners!) and read The Lake of Dead Languages.
Basically, I...more
Jake Rideout
The Night Villa, Carol Goodman's most recent thriller, is one of my favorite books to recommend. I was expecting this one to be similar--and it was, in that I couldn't put it down. Otherwise, though Goodman's style is completely different (and just as good): this is a novel about a woman, Jane, who leaves her husband and takes a position at her old boarding school to teach Latin. A few weeks into the semester, she opens her homework folder and finds a page torn from the journal she kept during h...more
Zoe
This book made me think of what they say about only being able to read a limited number of books in your lifetime: I was fully aware that I was squandering time I could have spent reading a better written book, and yet I couldn't put it down. The need to find out the truth behind the events of Jane Hudson's past was so compelling that I had to race to the end of the book -- despite all the glaring holes in the plot, the thoroughly predictable identity of the villain (which I figured out about a...more
Eliza Loomis
A book that at times, seems like Carol Goodman just took a class called "Writing descriptively about lakes and winter storms" and then decided to use every example she could think of and construct a complex plot to connect them all. But that plot evolves into a dark thriller of a book that, even as I rolled my eyes at sentences that just seemed to yell "Look! Symobolism!", I found myself increasingly unable to put down. It's a weighty 400 pages, but I read it in 3 days, which, if nothing else sh...more
Kathleen
When her marriage falls apart, Jane Hudson finds herself back at Heart Lake, the upstate New York boarding school she attended as a teenager. With her own child in tow, Jane confronts the ghosts of three suicides from her days at the school. And history repeats.

If this book were a hundred pages shorter, it could have been much better. By about page 300 it was evident to me--to any reader, really--who the killer was and the implications of this were clear as well. The ending was a little too nea...more
Sara Foster
I read this one for book club, but never would have chosen it on my own. It was suspenseful so though I was not thrilled to begin it did keep me turning the pages to find out the whole story of the former private school student turned Latin teacher at the same school.

One feature that bothered me about the author's writing was that the main character would recount an event in the present tense and then later in a flashback we would learn about the event as it happened in her student years. The w...more
Tina
A lot of reviewers of The Seduction of Water said this was their favorite Carol Goodman book. I plan to read this one day.

The day came and went and it was a big disappointment. I had trouble with all the Greek names/references in a book based on a Latin teacher. It bothered me enough that I sent the author an email asking why the star pupils of the main character's advanced Latin class were named Athena, Vesta, and Aphrodite (all Greek names, no response yet). I may not have noticed so much exce...more
Sabine
I'd give this 2.5 stars if I could...

This is the third book I've read my Carol Goodman. After reading two of her more recent novels, I could tell this was an early outing for her.

The story didn't seem to hit its stride until about 1/2 to 2/3rds of the way though the book, where the author's familiar style started to shine though. All in all, though, the plot devices seemed a bit trite, and without giving anything away - the twists were too contrived and storyline predictable.

Still, a so-so bad G...more
Ratforce
Give Carol Goodman a try. Her books, such as Lake of Dead Languages , The Seduction of Water , or The Sonnet Lover all have a bit of romance, plenty of suspense, some adventure and a touch of historical fiction. Her characters tend to be independent, intellectually-minded women (the author is a former Latin teacher) who find themselves at a crossroads in their personal lives and/or careers. Goodman’s particular strength is entwining art or literary history into her narrative, making her books se...more
Nicky
Utterly predictable mystery novel. What to say about it? It's about a woman teaching Latin at the school she attended oh so many years ago. There's a suicide; but is it a suicide? There's a brother and sister; but are they brother and sister? There's having sex with some dude in a mask; but is it the same dude in the mask who you think is in the mask and on and on until you want the book to end.

Another one that drew me in with promises of The Secret History and left me utterly disappointed. Whe...more
Lori
A book where every plot "twist" can be spotted a mile away by the reader, but always takes the heroine by surprise (trust me, we shouldn't have an advantage - the story is told from her point of view). Nice added touch - she has frequent flashbacks to her childhood, thus establishing that she has always been the type of person who could go the zoo and be surprised to find a lot of animals there. Added bonus: the author apparently has studied latin, which means we all get to read a lot about peop...more
Words for Nerds
This book is what was given to me when I asked my math teacher (yes you read correctly, math teacher,) for a book recommendation. I read the back cover, and desperate for something to devour, I began it immediately. Right from the get-go I knew that I was going to really like this book. A welcome change from the drivel of the young adult fiction I normally read, this book follows Jane, a Latin teacher at the boarding school she attended as teenager, and she looks both to the past and the present...more
Heather
I picked this book up at the library after trying to get Gone Girl. It was recommended as something similar. It's a nice little murder mystery with a glaringly obvious villain and a neat ending where everything is tied up in nice little bows. Still, despite its predictability, it's nice to have that, "Oh man, I totally called that!" moment, and it's a tightly written book that flows nicely with some interesting underlying themes. My only real complaint is that the action happens all around a lak...more
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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
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“There’s always that first step in skating, from dry ground to slick ice, when it just seems impossible. Impossible that two thin blades of metal will support you, impossible that because its molecules have begun to dance a little slower water will hold you up.” 6 likes
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