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Extended Audio Sample The Drowning House: A Novel Audiobook, by Elizabeth Black Click for printable size audiobook cover
2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 2.00 (491 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Elizabeth Black Narrator: Ann Marie Lee Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2013 ISBN: 9780385360210
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Photographer Clare Porterfield’s once-happy marriage is coming apart, unraveling under the strain of a family tragedy. When she receives an invitation to direct an exhibition in her hometown of Galveston, Texas, she jumps at the chance to escape her grief and reconnect with the island she hasn't seen for ten years. There Clare will have the time and space to search for answers about her troubled past and her family’s complicated relationship with the wealthy and influential Carraday family.

Soon she finds herself drawn into a century-old mystery involving Stella Carraday. Local legend has it that Stella drowned in her family's house during the Great Hurricane of 1900, hanged by her long hair from the drawing room chandelier. Could Stella have been saved? What is the true nature of Clare’s family’s involvement? The questions grow like the wildflower vines that climb up the walls and fences of the island. And the closer Clare gets to the answers, the darker and more disturbing the truth becomes.

Steeped in the rich local history of Galveston, The Drowning House portrays two families, inextricably linked by tragedy and time.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[Black] possesses elegant descriptive powers…The honky-tonk allure of Glaveson’s Strand district, in particular, comes alive in all its touched-up splendor.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Black excels at summoning the unique culture of Galveston, its tragic past and scruffy present.”

    Dallas Morning News

  • “A novel that encapsulates the convoluted machinations of a powerful family within the larger context of a society that supports its own, no questions asked.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • “An engrossing story of perception and context, with an appealing heroine and a fascinating setting.”

    Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star

  • “Black mythologizes this landscape, evoking its essence and that of its inhabitants, creating a novel that is far more than the sum of its parts.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “A dark, addictive, and compelling tale of Galveston Island. It builds to a stunning climax that keeps you reading compulsively to the end.”

    Galveston Daily News

  • “Elegant and evocative.”

    Toronto Star

  • “[The Drowning House] offers the ravages of water, fire, and wind, and a portrait of Galveston struggling to disentangle itself from a romanticized past.”

    Texas Observer

  • “Absorbing…A love letter to Galveston, its peculiar barrier island ways, and the shape that its isolated, ingrown history gives to relationships and events.”

    Philadelphia City Paper

  • “A page-turning chronicle of grief and memory…propelled by Black’s lyrical, haunting narration.”


  • “Black’s tempered prose and moody vulnerability creates a rich debut; both sensitive and sensational.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • The Drowning House marks the emergence of an impressive new literary voice. Elizabeth Black’s suspenseful inquiry into dark family secrets is enriched by a remarkable succession of images, often minutely observed, that bring characters, setting, and story sharply into focus.”

    John Berendt, New York Times bestselling author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

  • “Prepare to be lost in Elizabeth Black’s Galveston. Strange, mysterious, and utterly riveting, The Drowning House is a captivating mystery as well as a beautifully realized story about grief that skillfully evokes the heat, humidity, and languid desire that pervade Gulf Coast life.”

    Michelle Richmond, New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Fog

  • “As dark and gleaming as a ruby, Elizabeth Black’s suspenseful debut limns the slippery nature of truth surrounding a shocking tragedy, with language so exquisite you’ll be underlining phrases.”

    Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You

  • Selected for the January 2013 Indie Next List

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Zoe Hare | 1/15/2014

    " This book made me want to go check out Galveston. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Julia | 12/30/2013

    " Sometimes I really scare myself! How do I find these types of books? What types you ask? Dark and strange. Plots that are as crystal clear as mud. Endings that are so ambiguous, I am still scratching my head. But, it was a page turner. Go figure! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Amanda Leigh | 12/29/2013

    " I really couldn't get into the book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Denise | 12/28/2013

    " It took a bit of pushing to get through this, but when I hit the halfway point it definitely improved. I did enjoy it, although it was not suspenseful, really. I would call it interesting. A nice study of an insular society, it's secrets and how they affect it's residents & visitors. I did enjoy it, and will watch for this author's next book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Robyn | 12/15/2013

    " It was hard to put the book down but the story was hard to follow. The author bounces from present to past in no specific order. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Esther Bradley-detally | 11/14/2013

    " A subtle shroud of beginning, deliberately so, like a camera pushing through fog until a clear scene is highlighted. The novel penetrates more deeply as the reader finds more and more layers of mystery. Well told, captivating dark and light and a view of Galveston, an unknown place on my horizon. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Linda Hawley | 9/28/2013

    " disappointing. I really expected a much better book "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Cryan Ryan | 6/16/2013

    " This had such potential. Incredibly disjointed and frenetic. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jackie | 5/26/2013

    " this sounds like a good read and will look forward to reading it even if i have to wait for it to come to the library "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Eiron | 5/1/2013

    " This had the potential to be so much more. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Maegan | 4/25/2013

    " Obscure, oblique and not nearly as clever as the author seems to think it is. It was readable, but not nearly as good as some of the books I have read lately. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Stacey Lechner | 4/4/2013

    " Did not enjoy this book at all. Struggled to get through it, the characters didn't feel fully developed and the story dragged on. "

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About the Author

Elizabeth Black was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island and now lives in Houston, Texas.

About the Narrator

Ann Marie Lee is a seven-time winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award for narration. She is a Los Angeles–based actress with television credits that include ER, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and Nip/Tuck. Her stage performances for Broadway National Tours and regional theater include Peter Pan, As You Like It, Heartbreak House, and The Cherry Orchard.