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The Seduction of Water
Carol Goodman
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The Seduction of Water

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  4,017 Ratings  ·  356 Reviews
A New York Times Bestselling AuthorHaving recently turned forty, Iris Greeneder feels the "buts" taking over her life. She is all but published, all but a professor and all but married. A shot at literary success comes with a sudden impulse to write about her mother, Katherine Morrissey, who had written two fantasy novels of a planned trilogy. There was never a third book. ...more
Hardcover, Large Print, 560 pages
Published April 28th 2003 by Wheeler (first published 2003)
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Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 12, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, mystery
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
Mar 25, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, library
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
Jan 19, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ahhhhhhh....take me away! excellent!
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
Mar 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance, mystery
"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
Nov 27, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  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
Maia B.
Jun 06, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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
Aug 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Carol Goodman writes atmospheric, lyrical mystery novels thick with classical studies as illustration of internal conflict, and though this book represents one of her less-successful fusions, I enjoyed it. This time around, the main character is a woman stuck between - an unfulfilling job made of part-time assignments, an unfulfilling relationship with a noncommittal jerk, and a partially-complete graduate degree in English. She begins to remember her dead mother as a woman who may have been run ...more
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
Aug 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
This was a new author for me and I did quite enjoy this story. Iris lost her mother in a fire when she was a young girl. Now an adult and unhappy with her life, Iris decides to make some changes and in doing so discovers there may be more to the story of her mother's death than originally came to light. My favorite part was how the Irish fairy tale slowly unfolds in the novel and how it interweaves with Iris slowly uncovering the missing pieces to the puzzle. I also enjoyed how this story took p ...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
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)
Sep 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nicole Sackin
Nov 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book. The author really examines how different cultures' fairy tales can appear and transform normal people's lives. Though this is obviously a work of fiction it really transcends the page and takes you to a sad mystical world.
Jun 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I hated the Audiobook, hated. I find the idea of the book fascinating hence the 5 stars. I have never read a book similar and that is saying a lot. I loved the mythical aspect.
Aug 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-books
The plot is convoluted and perhaps not terribly plausible, but it worked for me. I like the way Goodman writes, and I enjoyed the romance of this story.
Melissa Embry
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Carol Goodman’s The Seduction of Water contains all the elements that would become characteristic of her adult fiction. There’s a 30-something woman academic, a beautiful building haunted by its history, a mysterious manuscript, and violent death. Oh, and a love triangle and a gripping climax, lapped in Goodman’s seductively lovely prose. And of course, there are bodies of water. Lots of water, whose seductive and dangerous powers the 2003 novel’s title refers to. I haven’t read her entire oeuvr ...more
Jun 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked some parts of The Seduction of Water. In some parts of the novel, however, I practiced my speed reading skills. What I liked included: the fairy tale writing assignment Iris gave to her students and its aftermath, her attachment to the summer resort, and the mystery of her mother. That mystery is what drove me to finish the story. Otherwise, I might have given up. What I didn't find interesting, were Iris' entanglement with the artist Jack and her own dithering personality.

In the
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this because my three older kids read a book by her and looked on our library web site for more by this author, only to find that she's only written one chapter book for youth, but many for adults. They really wanted me to read one because they loved her writing so much. I agreed, and was so pleasantly surprised by the building mystery, the fairy tale background, and the relationships explored. I love that I am getting book recommendations from my kids!
D'Arcy White
I chose this book because I love books about writers, and I also love selkie stories. But I guessed at the three major reveals in the book. And I felt the protagonist made unbelievable choices only in order to increase tension in certain scenes, making them drag out, and the narrator come across as stupid. I have heard the author's other books are better so I won't let this dissuade me.
Sep 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
2.5 stars. I didn't like this as much as I thought I would, for several reasons: It felt bloated, unfocused, and a little bit pretentious; the heroine drove me crazy; and it strangely lacked atmosphere. This is my first Carol Goodman book, and I hear it wasn't the best one to start with, so I'm still planning to read more of her novels.
Laura Lander
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book captured my attention from start to finish! Intricate plot, interesting characters. A well-crafted story. I want to read more of Carol Goodman now!
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed the authors writing style. The story had a few slow spots but it was a good read, strong characters and plot.

Looking forward to reading more of her writing.
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Great beginning and middle, lagged a bit at the end, but overall a nice, magical read. I would recommend it.
Jul 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
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
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Carol Goodman is the author of The Lake of Dead Languages, The Seduction of Water, the Watchtower Trilogy(with husband Lee Slonimsky), and the young adult Blythewood series. Her work has appeared in such journals as The Greensboro Review, Literal Latte, The Midwest Quarterly, and Other Voices. After graduation from Vassar College, where she majored in Latin, she taught Latin for several years in A ...more
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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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