Over a sweltering Swedish summer, Marina visits her older sister Stella, who has recently married Gabriel, a writer with a particular interest in the Romantics, and especially Rosetti. As the hot days and languorous nights persist, things happen - almost as if in a dream. But these things can never be undone. At times reminiscent of In the Cut or The Piano Teacher in its unflinching embrace of the darker side of sexuality, Drowned is a stunning debut that packs more punch than most books twice its length.
Drowned is Bohman’s debut novel and it is immediately intriguing from the first pages. The story follows the paths of two sisters. Marina, the younger of the two, has been living and studying Art History in Stockholm. Stella, the older sister, has just married Gabriel, a well-known writer with an interest in the Romantic period, who is 15 years her senior.
As the story progresses we see the shifting dynamics in the relationships between the two sisters and Gabriel. As Stella and Gabriel’s relationship fractures, Marina becomes more involved with Gabriel, at first through their shared literary interests and later more intimately. How does this love triangle resolve itself? Is Marina a mere catalyst for change? How will her relationship with her older sister unfold?
There is a dark, brooding atmosphere through the pages of this very satisfying gothic mystery. The author has set Marina up as the narrator and our sympathies lie with her. The most engrossing aspect of this novel is how we get to see the inner workings of the sisters’ relationship when both have secrets they want to share.
Bohman is a great new talent in Swedish literature who has captured the essence of the 18th-century Gothic novel in a thoroughly modern setting.
Michael Awosoga-Samuel is from Readings Carlton
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