A Summer of Drowning

Front Cover
Vintage Books, 2012 - Drowning - 336 pages
A terrifying and dream-like new novel from one of our greatest contemporary writers.
At a critical point in her career, painter Angelika Rossdal suddenly moves to Kvaloya, a small island deep in the Arctic Circle, to dedicate herself to the solitary pursuit of her craft. With her, she brings her young daughter, Liv, who grows up isolated and unable or unwilling to make friends her own age, spending much of her time alone, or with an elderly neighbour, Kyrre Jonsson, who beguiles her with old folk tales and stories about trolls, mermaids and -- crucially for the events that unfold in the summer of her eighteenth year -- about the "huldra," a wild spirit who appears in the form of an irresistibly beautiful girl, to lure young men to their doom.
Now twenty-eight, Liv looks back on her life and particularly to that summer when two boys drowned under mysterious circumstances in the still moonlit waters off the shores of Kvaloya. Were the deaths accidental, or were the boys, as Kyrre believes, lured to their deaths by a malevolent spirit? To begin with, Liv dismisses the old man's stories as fantasy, but as the summer continues and events take an even darker turn, she comes to believe that something supernatural is happening on the island. But is it? Or is Liv, a lonely girl who has spent her entire life in the shadow of her beautiful, gifted mother, slowly beginning to lose touch with reality?
Set in the white nights of an Arctic summer, the novel has the heightened, hallucinogenic atmosphere of a dream, but culminates in a moment of profound horror. Intensely imagined and exquisitely written, A Summer of Drowning""is a play of dark and light, of looking and seeing, that will hold and haunt every reader.

"From the Hardcover edition."

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User Review  - jkdavies - LibraryThing

very difficult to describe this book, it is beautiful and strange, but in a self concious way... the problem with having a central character so isolated is that she doesn't care and so you end up not really caring about her. Enjoyable to read but not 100% satisfying Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - sometimeunderwater - LibraryThing

Quite bad. It's unfortunate, I bought the book after seeing Burnside won the TS Eliot Prize, so he can obviously write poetry. But on the evidence of this, it doesn't seem he can write novels. The ... Read full review

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About the author (2012)

John Burnside is amongst the most acclaimed writers of his generation. His novels, short stories, poetry and memoirs have won numerous awards, including the Geoffrey Faber Memorial prize, the Whitbread Poetry Award, the Encore Award and the Saltire Scottish Book of the Year. In 2011, Black Cat Bone won both the Forward and the T.S. Eliot Prizes for poetry. A judge for the Booker prize in 2015, he is a professor in the School of English at Saint Andrews University.

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