Summary and book reviews of The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman

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

Book Summary

An eloquent thriller, an intricate balance of suspense and fine storytelling that proves Carol Goodman is a rare new talent with a brilliant future.

In the evocative tradition of Donna Tartt's first novel, The Secret History, comes this accomplished debut of youthful innocence drowned by dark sins. Twenty years ago, Jane Hudson left the Heart Lake School for Girls in the Adirondacks after a terrible tragedy. Now she has returned to the placid, isolated shores of the lakeside school as a Latin teacher, recently separated and hoping to make a fresh start with her young daughter. But ominous messages from the past dredge up forgotten memories that will become a living nightmare.

Since freshmen year, Jane and her two roommates, Lucy Toller and Deirdre Hall, were inseparable--studying the classics, performing school girl rituals on the lake, and sneaking out after curfew to meet Lucy's charismatic brother Matt. However, the last winter before graduation, everything changed. For in that sheltered, ice-encrusted wonderland, three lives were taken, all victims of senseless suicide. Only Jane was left to carry the burden of a mystery that has stayed hidden for more than two decades in the dark depths of Heart Lake.

Now pages from Jane's missing journal, written during that tragic time, have reappeared, revealing shocking, long-buried secrets. And suddenly, young, troubled girls are beginning to die again . . . as piece by piece the shattering truth slowly floats to the surface.

At once compelling, sensuous, and intelligent, The Lake of Dead Languages is an eloquent thriller, an intricate balance of suspense and fine storytelling that proves Carol Goodman is a rare new talent with a brilliant future.

Excerpt
The Lake Of Dead Languages

I have been told to make the Latin curriculum relevant to the lives of my students. I am finding, though, that my advanced girls at Heart Lake like Latin precisely because it has no relevance to their lives. They like nothing better than a new, difficult declension to memorize. They write the noun endings on their palms in blue ballpoint ink and chant the declensions, "Puella, puellae, puellae, puellam, puella . . ." like novices counting their rosaries.

When it comes time for a test they line up at the washroom to scrub down. I lean against the cool tile wall watching them as the washbasins fill with pale blue foam and the archaic words run down the drains. When they offer to show me the undersides of their wrists for traces of letters I am unsure if I should look. If I look, am I showing that I don't trust them? If I don't look, will they think I am naive? When they put their upturned hands in mine--so light-boned and delicate--it is as if a ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Given the trauma she endured there, why does Jane return to the Heart Lake School for Girls? Do you judge her options to be as limited as she does? Are there other factors at work in her decision?

  2. Jane acknowledges: "I had thought it was all right to marry someone I didn't love, but what I hadn't counted on was how it felt to share someone I loved with someone I didn't." Discuss the nature of Jane and Mitch's marriage and the impact Olivia's birth had on it.

  3. How does motherhood change Jane's life?

  4. Discuss Jane's socioeconomic background and its impact on her. Would you agree or disagree that class mobility in the United States takes a toll that is not always acknowledged or discussed?

  5. How does Jane's image of ...
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!

Reviews

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

Trash, despite the highfalutin Latin and classic references-and not very sexy trash at that.

Publishers Weekly

Goodman debuts strongly with this intricately plotted and captivating tale of buried secrets.

Booklist - Brad Hooper

This ultimately pleasing debut novel suffers from some plot clumsiness, including a reliance on coincidence and a few situational implausibilities. These drawbacks are forgiven and forgotten as the story builds into a thrilling, diverting read.

Library Journal - Karen Traynor

Writing teacher Goodman has crafted a page-turner of a mystery that will keep readers enthralled to the end. Recommended for public libraries with followings for authors like Martha Grimes.

Reader Reviews

New York Times

A Slice Of Wonder
This book was fantastically gripping and suspenseful, with a manner much like Donna Tartt's "Secret History". This book, however, is still truly unique, and it is a puzzlement how it is not more then the next Twilight, it should be the next...   Read More

Angela

I loved everything about htis book. It is just the perfect mix of thriller, mystery, and suspence. It keeps you hooked until the very last word.

Nicole

This book was amazing! i couldn't put it down, i read it in two days. From the first page to last you just can't wait to see what happens next. The intracate plot twists and glimpses into Jane Hundsons tradgic past at Heart Lake will keep you hooked....   Read More

*****

It is an amazing book and i recommend it to anyone.

Write your own review!

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!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Lake of Dead Languages, try these:

  • The Falls jacket

    The Falls

    by Joyce Carol Oates

    Published 2005

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    'This big, enthralling novel recaptures the gift for Dreiserian realism that distinguishes such Oates triumphs as What I Lived For, and We Were the Mulvaneys. It's her best ever, and a masterpiece.' Kirkus Reviews.

  • The Lovely Bones jacket

    The Lovely Bones

    by Alice Sebold

    Published 2004

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    A luminous and astonishing novel that builds out of grief the most hopeful of stories. In the hands of a brilliant new writer, this story of the worst thing a family can face is transformed into a suspenseful and even funny novel about love, memory, joy, heaven, and healing.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
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!

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Here I Am
    Here I Am
    by Jonathan Safran Foer
    With almost all the accoutrements of upper middle-class suburban life, Julia and Jacob Bloch fit the...
  • Book Jacket: Harmony
    Harmony
    by Carolyn Parkhurst
    In previous novels such as The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found, Carolyn Parkhurst has shown herself...
  • Book Jacket: Commonwealth
    Commonwealth
    by Ann Patchett
    Opening Ann Patchett's novel Commonwealth about two semi-functional mid-late 20th Century ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Tea Planter's Wife
    by Dinah Jefferies

    An utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner set in 1920s Ceylon.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Darling Days
    by iO Tillett Wright

    A devastatingly powerful memoir of one young woman's extraordinary coming of age.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
This Must Be the Place
by Maggie O'Farrell

An irresistible love story for fans of Beautiful Ruins and Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D C Y C Before T A H

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

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.