Palace of the Drowned: Book summary and reviews of Palace of the Drowned by Christine Mangan

Palace of the Drowned

by Christine Mangan

Palace of the Drowned by Christine Mangan X
Palace of the Drowned by Christine Mangan
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  • Published Jun 2021
    320 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

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Book Summary

A suspenseful, transporting literary thriller about a British novelist who heads to Venice after a public breakdown, by Christine Mangan, the bestselling author of Tangerine.

It's 1966 and Frankie Croy needs a break. Having achieved success with her debut bestseller, she's been trying desperately to live up to the high expectations of her editor and fans, only to fall short with each new book. When she receives a possible career-ending review and then has a very public breakdown, she retreats to her friend's vacant palazzo in Venice in the hopes the new setting will rejuvenate her creativity and inspire her writing.

But she finds that she's just as stuck. And then she meets a fellow British expat, a precocious young fan named Gilly who is eager to befriend her favorite author at all costs. An aspiring writer, Gilly worms herself into Frankie's Venetian life and the two begin an uneasy companionship. Frankie is skeptical of someone so relentlessly chipper, and Gilly tells stories that seem too good to be true, and in fact some of them are. This complicated web of desperate friendship, half-truths, and white lies―all set against a once-in-a-generation storm that inundates Venice and leaves it flooded―will lead Frankie to make a choice that is impossible to undo.

A gorgeously rendered and twisted tale of art and ambition, Palace of the Drowned is a literary thriller that asks just how far one is willing to go to achieve success.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[A]n elegantly elegiac thriller...though not all the Highsmithian deceptions come off as equally convincing, Mangan, unlike Frankie, more than lives up to the promise of her debut." - Publishers Weekly

"A reference to Patricia Highsmith, like Chekhov's gun, will also play out, because Gilly has much in common with Ripley...[The novel's] tropes wind down in a not entirely unexpected but fitting way. Against the grim backdrop of off-season Venice, literary rivalry can be menacing." - Kirkus Reviews

"In her taut and mesmerizing follow up to Tangerine, the preternaturally gifted Christine Mangan plunges us into another exotic and bewitchingly rendered locale, this time Venice off-season, moody and damp, where well-known novelist Frankie Croy has gone to escape dark memories. Instead, a surprise entanglement with a mysterious young woman sets Frankie on edge, threatening to unravel her already precarious mental state. Voluptuously atmospheric and surefooted at every turn, Palace of the Drowned more than delivers on the promise of Mangan's debut, and firmly establishes her as a writer of consequence." - Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife and When the Stars Go Dark

This information about Palace of the Drowned was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Susan T. (Bahama, NC)

Well written and enjoyable
A slightly unstable author retreats to Venice following a very public scene in London. From there, the sinking city around her, the appearance of a supposed friend, the nonappearance of her actual friend who has chosen being with her husband over her, the mysterious, ghost-like neighbor and even a visit to the opera all foreshadow the inevitable ending. I enjoyed the connections to what was happening around Frankie to what was happening to Frankie. I thought the book was well written and enjoyable and recommend it.

Charlene D. (Saugus, MA)

Palace of the Drowned
A gothic thriller where place and weather are characters in the story. The book caught my interest in the first few pages and I finished it two days after I started it. It had just enough suspense to hold my interest - it wasn't overdone. I wasn't quite sure about the characters and I liked that about the book. It wasn't predictable. There was a familiar theme but then again it was different. There was a twist at the end and it didn't end the way I expected. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes this genre.

M K. (Minneapolis, MN)

Palace of the Drowned
This is a gripping novel that teases with knowing what happened but waiting to see if anyone else knows and what the consequences might be. British author Frankie Croy's first novel is met with unabashed success and her lucrative book contract for subsequent novels is not met with similar praise; and her latest novel has one scathing review left unsigned. This review magnifies what Frankie already feels, and like a sliver underneath a toenail, it is painful but without an easy remedy to extract the lingering after effects of this searing criticism.

She retreats to Venice, attempting to find the fire that catapulted her initial rise in the publishing world. While there, she is accosted by a young woman, Gilly, who says that she knows her, or her mother, who is an editor, knows her. This young woman is also a writer and wants to share her manuscript with Frankie, whom she has idolized since her rise in the literary world. Frankie reads it and finds it very modern without much of a narrative, and not wanting to crush this young woman's aspirations, says that it's not really her kind of book. Gilly says, however, that an editor has seen some of it and is going to publish it. And then, life gets very interesting.

From early on in the novel there is an underlying level of tension only increasing as the book progresses to the point where you can't put the book down until you finish it,

Shirley L. (Norco, LA)

Not a Page Turning Thriller- Better Than That
The back cover of this novel describes it as a fast paced thriller. It is not. Shortly after beginning this story I got impatient. Nothing was happening. I would have rated it only 2 or maybe 3 stars. Thrillers are action packed, fast paced. Rather this book was a beautiful character study of a very damaged protagonist in a incredibly gorgeously described setting. Multiple sentences were meant to be savored not rushed through. As I read more, I grew to love this story and yes the pace did pick up. This is not a quick snack of fast paced junk thrills but rather a delicious experience to be immersed in fully. I highly recommend.

Wendy R. (Pinehurst, NC)

Is this a Friendship or Obsession?
An engrossing dark novel with some intriguing twists. Frankie travels to Venice after a very personal and public break down. She is trying to make sense of past events and pull her life together. Then Gilly appears and starts to involve herself in Frankie's life. The weather also inserts itself as major flooding in the city. All work together to set the tone of the book. Frankie is drowning in her mental well being, Is Gilly the life vest she needs? Will Frankie ever pull herself together or will her life continue to spiral? Is Gilly being truthful and helping or is she lying and manipulating? Can the cost of friendship be deadly? There were many times I would put the book down and say "What would I do?" A very good gothic thriller that twists and turns primarily in waterlogged Venice. I enjoy Christine Mangan's writing. If you liked "Tangerine" you will want to read "Palace of the Drowned".

Carmel B. (The Villages, FL)

Deluge of Delusion
Mangan's depiction of the unraveling of a mind is brilliant. The reader craves to the see the sunshine. but the flood waters keep rising, in Venice, in Rome, in London – and in the protagonist's (or is it the antagonist's) psyche. Readers are forced to remeasure how independence, perseverance, and self-control can be detriments to our well being and that of others. Is it possible to drown in our delusions about ourselves and those who love us? Gilly, Jack and Leonard are Frankie's gondolas of refuge, but she trudges along, ignoring even her own security whistle.

...19 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Christine Mangan

Christine Mangan is the author of the national bestseller, Tangerine. She has her PhD in English from University College Dublin, with a focus on 18th-century Gothic literature, and an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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