Therese Bohman's Drowned begins like a lazy summer day, but soon the air grows stagnant, unmoved with a hint of a storm on the horizon with two sisters and a physically abusive spouse. Marina escapes from her boyfriend to visit her sister, Stella, and Stella's husband, Gabriel, in Skane, Sweden. Marina spends time wandering around the landscape while avoiding the art history paper she is to write. Her sister leaves every day to work for the parks and garden department in town. Gabriel stays home to work on his novel. The story is uneventful yet I kept turning the pages since there was an underlying tension that soon came to light: Marina and Gabriel started to have an affair. Gabriel, though, frightens Marina to some degree, due to his violent outburst and physical abuse that she tries to hide.
Even though Stella doesn't acknowledge what she knows, it seems she keeps pushing it away by only wanting to discuss the flowers and gardens she is responsible to care for with Marina. Marina also avoids asking Stella about the possibility of Gabriel being physically abusive with her, even though Stella does admit that her husband is sometimes “difficult to live with.” These sisters obviously do not communicate and soon Marina leaves to go back to school.
Fast forward several months later: Marina returns to Skane, but for a much sadder time. She is helping Gabriel clean out the house after the death of her sister who ostensibly drowned. The reader cannot help but wonder if Gabriel is responsible, especially with the clues Marina is given via her sister's diary she finds and neighbors who report on what they witnessed; still, that doesn't stop Marina from moving in with him who seems to woo her the same way he wooed her sister.
The ending leaves more questions and answers, but one wonders if the novel Gabriel was working on provides some clues on some sort of "Hitchcockian" fashion.
Best part of story, including ending:
It is a work of literary fiction, beautifully written where there's little action but yet internal tension that is reminiscent of a psychological thriller.
Best scene in story:
The scene when Stella brings Marina to the house for the first time. Gabriel is preparing dinner. He seems kind and thoughtful, but the author does a great job in the scene leading the reader to know that there is something subversive about this author.
Opinion about the main character:
Marina is naïve and selfish. I was amazed that she'd be willing to live with her deceased sister's husband, especially when she wonders if he is responsible for Stella's death.