Excerpt from The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Lake of Dead Languages

by Carol Goodman

The Lake of Dead Languages
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2002, 390 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2003, 413 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"Oh no, I only read the parts they want me to--they circle the parts I'm not supposed to read and mark them private."

Meryl North makes a sound between a laugh and a choke and Gwendoline's pale skin reddens. I try to catch Gwen's eye to give her a nod of encouragement--she is the closest thing to a friend I have here at Heart Lake--but she is resolutely staring down at a worn volume of Emily Dickinson.

"They do seem to be under a lot of stress," I say, more to cover Gwen's embarrassment than because I want to open this particular line of conversation. There were two suicide attempts last year. In response, the administration has instituted weekly faculty seminars on adolescent depression and "How to detect the ten warning signs of suicidal behavior."

"Anyone in particular?" The question comes from Dr. Candace Lockhart. Unlike the rest of us at the table she has no stacks of papers to grade or texts to study for next period. Her fingers are never stained with ink, her exquisitely tailored dove gray suits never tainted with the ugly yellow chalk dust that the rest of us wear like a wasting disease. She's the school psychologist, an office that did not exist in my day. There is an aura of secrecy surrounding her appointment here. I've heard some of the faculty complain that Dean Buehl hired her without going through the proper channels. In other words, without giving the resident faculty a chance to gossip about her credentials. There's a whiff of jealousy about the complaints, to which I am not immune. The rumor is that she is conducting research for a groundbreaking study on the psychology of adolescent girls. We all suspect that once her research is done she will leave us for private practice, a glamorous lecture circuit with appearances on "Oprah," or perhaps a tenure-track post at an Ivy League college--some existence more appropriate to her wardrobe. In the meantime, she resides among us with her pale, almost white, hair, blue eyes and thin, ascetic figure, like a lilac point Siamese slumming with drab tabbies.

Poor Gwen, in her faded Indian print jumper and fussily old-fashioned high-necked white blouse, looks especially dowdy in comparison. Although Candace Lockhart and Gwen Marsh are both in their early thirties, the effects of teaching five classes a day, not to mention sponsoring half a dozen clubs, have left their mark on Gwen. Her complexion is muddy, her hair limp and going gray at the roots, her blue eyes washed out and bloodshot. Candace, on the other hand, clearly has time to get her hair done (that platinum blond can't be entirely natural) and her blue eyes are as clear and cold as lake water.

I am sufficiently unnerved by those blue eyes to make a mistake. Of course, I should say, "No. No one in particular." But instead I name a name. "Athena . . . I mean Ellen . . . Craven. I noticed today that she has an awful scar on her arm."

"Well, yes, I know about that of course. That's old news and not surprising given Ellen's history."

I should be glad for her dismissal, but something in the way Dr. Lockhart's blue eyes glaze over, already looking past me toward whatever illustrious future fate has in store for her, irks me. I am forever thinking I am past such vanities and finding that I am not.

"Some of the pictures she draws on the back of her homework assignments are . . . well . . . somewhat disturbing."

"You let your girls turn in homework with pictures on the back?" Myra Todd looks up from her stack of papers, appalled, only to meet Dr. Lockhart's cool look of disdain. Gratified to have someone else silenced by those eyes, I go on. It has occurred to me that this is exactly what I should be doing. My responsibility as Athena's teacher, as an especially trusted teacher in whom the girl confided, demands that I seek help for her emotional problems. To whom else should I refer those problems than the school psychologist?

Excerpted from The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman Copyright 2002 by Carol Goodman. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Romanovs
    The Romanovs
    by Simon Sebag Montefiore
    The Romanovs chronicles the reigns of the 20 individuals who were considered members of that dynasty...
  • Book Jacket: Barkskins
    Barkskins
    by Annie Proulx
    Barkskins, by Annie Proulx, is not a book to read quickly. After a month of slow reading, I ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Marriage of Opposites
    by Alice Hoffman
    Alice Hoffman's latest work, The Marriage of Opposites, is a historical fiction novel focusing on ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    All Is Not Forgotten
    by Wendy Walker

    This is fast-paced psychological suspense/thriller at it's very best.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Miss Jane
    by Brad Watson

    "Starred Review. Sensitive, beautifully precise prose. Highly recommended." - PW

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Girl Waits with Gun
by Amy Stewart

An enthralling novel based on the forgotten true adventures of one of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Summer Stunner
Summer Giveaway

Win 5 books, each week in July!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

W M T N, W C F All

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

BookBrowse Summer Giveaway

We're giving away
5 books every
week in July!