May 14, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Drowning People

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Richard Mason
genre
Fiction
We gave it a C-

A gothic tale in the Rebecca mode, this first novel is marked by wealth, passion, murder — and an annoyingly sophomoric tone. The Drowning People is the story of Jamie, an English violinist, his great love, Ella, his best friend, Eric, and Ella’s evil cousin, Sarah. When Ella is implicated in her father’s death and sent to prison, Sarah inherits everything: the family manor house, the money, even Jamie. The whole thing reads like a high school essay — ”write the story as if you were Charlotte Bronte” — but the fact that such a derivative work got published isn’t surprising given the 21-year-old British author Richard Mason’s Heathcliff-handsome looks. He’ll probably look better and write better in five years. C-

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