I loved Goodman’s novel last year, The Sea of Lost Girls, and I love this one even more. It’s very of the moment, as it involves a powerful newspaper magnate who has been sexually harassing his female employees. Like last year’s novel, Goodman’s concern is the shame the women feel for something that is not their fault. She expands these horizons, making the book specific (an element in every successful novel, to my mind, is specificity) by tying the shame element to her two main characters as well.
Carol Goodman’s luscious prose doesn’t mask her storytelling drive, and it’s a haunting and unforgettable combination. The Sea of Lost Girls is set at a girl’s boarding school in Maine, centering on the family of Tess, Harmon and Rudy. Tess and Harmon both work at the school; Rudy is Tess’s son and Harmon’s stepson, as well as a student at the school. The book kicks off with him texting his mother in the middle of the night, and she rushes off to find out what’s wrong.
As a reader, I was instantly drawn into the dynamic between Tess and her son, who has had some troubles but whom she loves fiercely. Her greatest goal is that of any mother’s: to protect him. And, as it turns out, he needs it. His girlfriend, Lila, whom he had been fighting with, turns up dead the next morning and suspicion falls on both Rudy and Harmon in turn.