A tale of identity and tense personal relationships, one that as a film property would have appealed to Hitchcock or de Palma.
In the first part of the story Marina, the narrator, is drowning in all kinds of ways, for her life is marred by inconsequence. Her relationship with her boyfriend is desultory, and she’s supposedly working on an art history paper on Dante Gabriel Rossetti but has little commitment to the task. At this point in her life she visits her sister Stella and Stella’s husband Gabriel, a volatile novelist. Immediately, an edgy attraction develops between Marina and her brother-in-law. Stella works her job as a landscapist in the small Swedish town near which they live, so she’s away from home much of the time, leaving Gabriel to work on his latest novel and Marina to feel the magnetic pull of his personality. On the surface, Gabriel seems kind and attentive, but Marina senses a deeper friction—hints of physical abuse, for example, and anger out of proportion to the events that gave rise to it. Ultimately, however, Marina willingly gives in to the passion she feels for him, a passion fed by the languorous and oppressive heat of the Swedish summer. The second part of the story skips ahead several months, for the weather, the cold rain of November, is now oppressive in a different way. Marina has returned to the house after Stella’s death by drowning. She had slipped on a rock by a lake and supposedly hit her head, but Marina eventually finds herself open to the possibility that Gabriel had something to do with the “accident”—and she fears that Gabriel’s novel based on Ophelia might have adumbrated his wife’s death.
A slim novel with a taut narrative line and a sense of impending disaster.