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Dark Water

Elizabeth Lowry

7 Reviews

Rated 0

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945), Historical fiction

Lowry does for the C19th Gothic what Francis Spufford did for the C18th novel, as a doctor looks back on the patient whose dark secret changed his understanding of what makes us human.

'Eloquent, impressive . . . while her touch is witty, her manner almost buoyant, her themes are sinister beyond belief. She touches the frontiers of the human' Hilary Mantel

Boston, 1833

Aboard the USS Orbis as it embarks from Boston and surges south to round Cape Horn, Hiram Carver takes up his first position as ship's doctor. Callow and anxious among the seasoned sailors, he struggles in this brutal floating world until he meets William Borden.

Borden. The Hero of the Providence. A legend among sailors, his presence hypnotizes Carver, even before he hears the man's story. Years before, Borden saved several men from mutiny and led them in a dinghy across the Pacific to safety.

Every ship faces terror from the deep. What happens on the Orbis binds Carver and Borden together forever. When Carver recovers, and takes up a role at Boston's Asylum for the Insane, he will meet Borden again - broken, starving, overwhelmed by the madness that has shadowed him ever since he sailed on the Providence.

Carver devotes himself to Borden's cure, sure it depends on drawing out the truth about that terrible voyage. But though he raises up monsters, they will not rest. So Carver must return once more to the edge of the sea and confront the man - and the myth - that lie in dark water.

Elizabeth Lowry's gothic masterpiece, like Golden Hill and The Essex Serpent, gives the historical novel a new, beating heart. In Carver and Borden, she realizes the dichotomy of savagery and reason, of man and monster, of life and sacrifice, in a tale rich with adventure and glorious imagination.

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Praise for Dark Water

  • It's seldom that a thoughtful, deeply-pondered novel makes you want to turn the pages so fast . . . Her eloquent, impressive sentences often end in a way you don't predict, and while her touch is witty, her manner almost buoyant, her themes are sinister beyond belief. She touches the frontiers of the human, and balances there on the crest of a stylish wave. - Hilary Mantel

  • *Book of the Month* Superb . . . that rare find - a literary novel with a plot that unfolds with pace - The Times, Book of the Month

  • A compelling combination of gothic mystery, psychological thriller and study of the shifting nature of truth, Dark Water proves worth a ten-year wait - The Times

  • This beautifully written, ambitious exploration of human motivation, lies, violence and the will to survive is terrific. Exciting, spiked with high gothic and clever characterisation, it chips away at our notions of insanity - Daily Mail

  • An irresistible peek into the unknown . . . Lowry's elegant and considered prose depicts mid-19th century America as a world in which the rational and the inexplicable uneasily coexist, and where the monstrous might be found within anyone, as well as outside. - Observer

  • Immensely enjoyable . . . a psychologically complex and emotionally engaging story of misdirected love, and of a variety of hungers . . . Dark Water is historical fiction with high literary ambitions . . . It asks big questions - who can claim with certainty to be sane? - and it is lent satisfying substance - Guardian

  • A superbly entertaining historical novel . . . A superior thriller, cleverly conceived and elegantly written - Saturday Paper, Melbourne

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Elizabeth Lowry

Elizabeth Lowry was born in Washington, DC and educated in South Africa and England. She lives and works in Oxford. Her first novel, The Bellini Madonna, was published in 2008 to great acclaim. She is a frequent contributor to the London Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, The Guardian and The Wall Street Journal.

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