Palace of the Drowned by Christine Mangan | Book Review

For those who can read these days and want to escape into a world of written words for a few moments, I would like to recommend you Palace of the Drowned by Christine Mangan set in Venice of the nostalgic 1960s, before and after the 1966 Venice flood.

It is an atmospheric, gothic, slow-paced, character driven psychological noir exploring issues of professional ambition, failure and social status, mental health, toxic female relationships, dark emotions including obsession, loneliness, grief, and human nature. The city of Venice is a protagonist in the book; there are many captivating and evocative descriptions which capture a sense of the Italian city during dark winter months vividly.

The main protagonist is a 42-year old Frankie, a struggling novelist whose recent work caused her reputation to decline further. We also learn that her two brothers and her parents died during WW2 which made her very much alone in the world. As she grows older, Frankie becomes a living definition of an independent woman. Following a very public mental breakdown, Frankie finds a refuge in a rented Palace of the Drowned in Venice. She is largely committed to a solitary, yet peaceful existence. Shortly after her arrival in a new city, Frankie encounters a young woman called Gilly who claims that they had met before. Frankie feels very unease with a new acquaintance. This rendezvous marks the beginning of a psychological labyrinth that the main protagonist has to wander through. Frankie’s internal turmoil reflects the catastrophic 1966 flooding and its subsequent impact on the city of Venice.

This book is a literary achievement. For those who love writing of Anita Brookner, Patrick Modiano or Virginia Woolf, this book will be very enjoyable.

I am grateful to a lovely team Tandem Collective UK and Little Brown Book UK Publishing House for having me on this readalong and for this beautiful gifted copy of the book.

This read was a small ray of sunshine which was so needed in the last weeks.

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