- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: W&N (17 Mar. 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0753828413
- ISBN-13: 978-0753828410
- Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.3 x 19.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 82 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 688,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Drowning People Paperback – 17 Mar 2011
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`Assured, well-paced and ambitious ... the writing is a delight. An exceptional achievement. (GUARDIAN (1999))
`Redolent of early Evelyn Waugh... Mason already displays narrative drive, verbal skill and technical mastery. (DAILY EXPRESS (1999))
`One of the most talked about first novels of 1999. If you want to be au courant with modern fiction, you will need to read it...' (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH (1999))
`A very impressive first novel ... the story immediately hooks you until the end' (THE TIMES (1999))
An absolutely fantastic story: a cast of weird and wonderful characters, tangled love, secrets and deceits, deaths, and altogether a hugely inventive plot with a twist to beat all twists at the very 11th hour. (OXFORD TIMES)
A truly thrilling murder mystery set partly in Cornwall, in the tradition of Du Maurier's REBECCA: dark, English and very much a classic.See all Product description
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I absolutely loved the first book of his that I read, The Lighted Rooms, and though it was very different I very much enjoyed his History of a Pleasure Seeker. The Drowning People is his debut novel, and it has it's faults. It's, quite a different kind of book, a Daphne Du Maurier kind of book, revelling in mystery and melodrama with a horrendous secret at its centre. It isn't my favourite book by him, but I like reading novels by people who don't write the same novel over and over again, and he has certainly produced something different every time.
The Drowning People concerns the life and love affairs of a young musician, a gifted violinist, James Farrell, who becomes embroiled with society people and the Harcourt family and their beautiful house in Cornwall. There are two young cousins at the centre of the mystery: Ella, and Sarah. When her mother died Ella was removed from the family's influence and taken to live in America with her father. Now she's back and seemingly poised to inherit the beautiful house. Sarah and Ella hate each other, in the most civilised way, however, and nothing seems to disturb the willed serenity of Sarah, Complicating matters there is Eric, who loves the narrator, though Farrell is firmly heterosexual. The element of melodrama enters when James Farrell, is put through several emotional hoops by Ella, destroying one man and alienating another. Both Ella and Sarah are finely drawn but events and their own twisted natures turns them into cyphers, in different ways, though perhaps Ella is more sinned against than sinning, all of which compels the reader to sympathise with the luckless Farrell.
The novel comes back to the opening words at the end 80 years later, with everything made plain in the most wrenching manner. It's a fantastic story, but it does rather string things out with the final fifty-odd years of their existence covered over a few tautly emotional pages. Another success for this adventurous and wonderful writer.
As a young man James, a violinist, falls desperately in love with Ella a high society free spirit. Despite Ella being engaged to another man they start a relationship. James then meets Eric who becomes his friend and musical accompanist. He seems totally unaware that Eric's feelings for him are not just those of friendship and his subsequent actions encouraged by Ella end in tragedy. James and Ella are parted for a number of years but just as they seem to be about to get together again fate intervenes to part them for ever. The end of the book does have a twist but it wasn't too difficult to guess.
It is a very ambitious book for such a young writer. Undoubtedly he was influenced by Brideshead but it certainly isn't of that quality. On the plus sides the characters themselves (James, Ella, and Eric) are beautifully drawn and the reader really gets to know them. However I could find no sympathy for any of then, as they all seem completely self interested and I didn't really care what happened to them. Richard Mason has talent but for me it was not fulfilled in this book and I found it a disappointing read.
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