Interrupted: Carol Goodman, The Lake of Dead Languages (2002)

I’m sure that ten years ago, I would have been right in the target readership of this book: the setting in a secluded all-girl boarding school in Upstate New York, with Gothic tones and plenty of ominous foreboding. It is Gothic chick-lit, centered on the Latin teacher, a divorced mother of a preschooler, who returns to teach at her alma mater. She had left school under dark circumstances, after two of her roommates had committed suicide (or so it seems). I can’t imagine a man being drawn to this kind of plot. My younger self certainly was.

Yet, more than hundred pages into the story, my interest slightly waned. There were too much foreboding, too much back and forth between the present and the past, and the symbols were quite heavy-handed (a frozen lake! midnight skinny dipping! brooding teenagers! self-mutilation and drugs! disappearing journals full of secrets!). I knew that  this book wasn’t going to be the kind I’d be proud of finishing. Some things are just bad for you, like too much ice cream.

Guess what? Perhaps I’m a grown-up now, even for books. Or perhaps it’s the effect of good resolutions. I skimmed the rest, just out of FOMO. Misplaced FOMO, as it turned out. The amount of coincidences necessary to tie all loose ends was just beyond all plausibility.

But now, after this mild disappointment, I would love to immerse into a good atmospheric Gothic novel, something truly excellent. I have always been a big fan of Bram Stocker’s Dracula, it might be time for a re-read? Or do you have any other suggestion?


3 thoughts on “Interrupted: Carol Goodman, The Lake of Dead Languages (2002)

  1. Oh, oh, oh, so many to choose from, including Dracula! Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier springs to mind, as do, of course, Jane Eyre and Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in Black. And then there’s Uncle Silas by Le Fanu. Or Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle. I also love Anya Seton’s Dragonwyck. If you’re looking for more recent books, I loved Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale and Sarah Blake’s Grange House.

    If none of these strikes your fancy, ask for more. I’ve got plenty more I could list.

    • Dear Emily, thanks for the outpouring list, I see you’re a fan! I have read and enjoyed Rebecca, Jane Eyre, Wilkie Collins, Uncle Silas. Shirley Jackson makes me too anxious. I’ve never heard of the others, so I’ll check whatever is available at the library or Bookmooch

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