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The Drowning Season

by Alice Hoffman
From the author of The Rules of Magic: A novel of a Long Island family matriarch and her namesake granddaughter who discover the power the past holds over their present.

Esther the Black is eighteen years old and ready to leave the Compound, the collection of cottages on the North Shore of Long Island where she has lived all her life. But as July turns to August and her family braces for the height of Drowning Season, she realizes that she may not be able to escape her family’s legacy.

Her father will find a way through the locked sea-wall gate and try to drown himself in the harbor, her mother will be too hung over to leave her cottage for days at a time, and her grandmother will refuse to say a single kind word.

Esther the White left home when she was just a girl, fleeing her abusive parents across a frozen Russian river with a pocketful of stolen jewels. Life has taught her to be cold and unyielding, but in the heat of another fraught summer at the Compound, she feels her resolve melting away. Cohen, the landscaper and chauffeur responsible for keeping her son out of the water, looks at her with a desire she finds harder and harder to resist. Her granddaughter’s name may be an insult to tradition, but does that mean the poor girl should never feel her grandmother’s love or know her story?

Graceful, haunting, and wise, The Drowning Season “casts the spell of all great fairy tales. It takes daily life and transforms it into myth as we watch” (Chicago Sun-Times).

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