Drowning Rose by Marika Cobbold

Drowning Rose, Marika Cobbold

Bloomsbury, 352 pages

ISBN 978-1408821947

Eliza Cummings has chosen an unusual career path.  With refined sensibilities and artistic talents, Eliza works as a ceramics restorer for the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, returning broken masterpieces to their full splendour.  Eliza gives herself completely to her work, but holds herself at arms length from the rest of her life.  She lives in a dank, cramped apartment, has strained relationships with difficult relatives, and finds herself divorced from a kind-hearted and intelligent man.

Twenty-five years ago, when Eliza and her friends were sixteen and dreaming of the future, this is far from what they had envisioned.  In a quiet dorm at the prestigious Lakeland School for Girls, they decided that Eliza was to write and illustrate fairy tales, own a beautiful apartment and travel to Italy once a year, Portia was either to be an ambassador or to live in a crumbling house in the country with horses, dogs and children, and Rose was to be an Oscar-winning actress with a husband and family.  Sandra, a grudgingly tolerated new arrival from a working-class background, kept her real dreams to herself. When Rose set her sights on Portia’s confident and attractive brother, Eliza was only too happy to help, setting in motion a series of events that ended in tragedy.

Eliza has held herself responsible for Rose’s untimely death for twenty-five years, repairing damaged porcelain but allowing guilt to ruin the fabric of her own life.  One day, she receives a telephone call from Rose’s father that challenges her assumptions about the past and its implications on the present, and begins to learn how to live again.   Drowning Rose is a sharply insightful tale of social class, misperception, and the misfortune of wasted lives, resonant in theme and tone with the writing of Gail Godwin and Elinor Lipman.

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10 Responses to Drowning Rose by Marika Cobbold

  1. Sounds intriguing. Another book for my reading list. Thanks, Naomi.

  2. Alex says:

    It sounds much more promising than the cover suggests. WHo does choose the are work for these books?

    • Naomi says:

      Personally, I loved this cover, but I can see that it’s a bit Lady-of-Shallottish for some. It does work with the drowning scene in the book, but I can’t say more without providing too much of a spoiler. There’s an alternate cover, featuring a repaired porcelain teacup, that’s understated but also quite nice.

      As for who chooses the covers, I have no idea. Does anybody reading this blog work in publishing?

      • Alex says:

        The porcelain teacup sounds much more my thing. When asked by someone why I have so many teapots I pointed out that it is impossible to have too many teapots. Teaware is rather my thing.

      • Naomi says:

        Mine, too! I have a collection of teapots in the kitchen, and the teapot and cup on my header are actually the tea things I drink from when reading. My parents bought me that teapot and two cups on a trip to Wales. Something about the pattern reminds me of the tastes of my Welsh grandmother, to whom I was quite close.

        As for the novel, the cover I chose works with the drowning scene, and the teacup cover works with the metaphor of porcelain repair/life repair. The Shallottish cover didn’t last long – there was a second printing with the teacup cover, so many other people must be of your way of thinking about it.

  3. I’ve been on the look out for a book about gardens and gardening as I am about to start working for a charity that runs allotments in my area. This might be just the thing to get me into the gardening spirit! Thanks!

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