A Summer of Drowning

John Burnside

A Summer of Drowning

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. 3.8 out of 5 based on 8 reviews
A Summer of Drowning

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Hardcover
Pages 336
RRP £16.99
Date of Publication June 2011
ISBN 978-0224061780
Publisher Jonathan Cape
 

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.

Reviews

The Independent

Christina Patterson

It’s very, very rare for a writer to be equally good at poems and novels. John Burnside is. He’s a brilliant poet, a brilliant memoirist, and a brilliant novelist. His seventh novel, A Summer of Drowning, is hypnotic from the start. It begins with a drowning and ends with something even worse than a drowning, something that’s never fully explained. But in Burnside’s work, quite a lot isn’t ...

10/06/2011

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The Scotsman

Stuart Kelly

Burnside's prose has been frequently praised for its clarity, poetic sonority and fine cadences. It is certainly so here ... At its pinnacles, A Summer Of Drowning marries philosophical meditation with the gooseflesh verve of a thriller ...

07/06/2011

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The Financial Times

Adam O’Riordan

Burnside’s great skill is capturing the texture of life on the remote island in the far north, and the routines and motivations of its inhabitants ... a beautifully sustained novel

18/06/2011

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The Sunday Times

Nick Rennison

Is she [Liv] correct or is she, as she sometimes suspects herself, an unreliable narrator, descending into a nervous breakdown? Burnside allows the ambiguity to remain in a hauntingly memorable book.

19/06/2011

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The Times

Margaret Reynolds

Burnside has said that he has set the booksellers a difficult task: “a modern version of The Turn of the Screw, set in the Arctic Circle”. But they should have no trouble. Burnside is an accomplished and careful writer. And this is a beautiful book, compelling and strange.

25/06/2011

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The Guardian

Joanna Kavenna

... a horror-suspense-mystery with added elements drawn from fairytale, teen-angst novel and bildungsroman, narrated by a teenage girl ... Written with deceptive elegance, riddled with gaps and non sequiturs and a clever travesty of several genres, this is a disturbing, provocative book.

22/07/2011

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The Daily Telegraph

Anthony Cummins

The novel invites you to view storytelling as akin to madness ... Its evasions may discomfit those who like to know exactly where they stand, but those who enjoy being teased as well as spooked should relish an eerie, ethereal novel that alludes to Lewis Carroll and uses the methods of Hitchcock and David Lynch.

17/06/2011

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The Daily Mail

Clare Colvin

Burnside, born in Scotland and winner of a Whitbread prize for poetry, is lyrical in his descriptions of the land of the midnight sun, which he visited annually over the course of ten years. But the plot, as recounted by Liv a decade after the drownings, is awkwardly worked out, and it is hard to care for the characters.

03/06/2011

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