Drowning People

Publisher: Seal Books
So begins The Drowning People, an extraordinary debut novel by a twenty-year-old Oxford student.

When he first lays eyes on her sitting by the Thames, James Farrell, an aspiring violinist, falls instantly in love with Ella Harewood, a young and beautiful society girl engaged to a Cambridge don. Defying the strict social standards of upper-class England, the two carry on a passionate affair, believing that the burning power of their love will justify all their actions, guarantee them a life of happiness, and keep them on top of the world.

But the heady rush of first love threatens to ruin their lives forever. In the ultimate test of loyalty, Ella forces James to violently betray his best friend, and, in doing so, sets off a chain of events that will lead to murder and bitter revenge.

Written with wisdom beyond the author's years, The Drowning People is both a trenchant portrayal of the British upper class and a passionate story about the limits of friendship, the legacy of family, and the volatile power of first love.


"I see her fumble absently in her bag for a cigarette, watch her light it, and follow silver-grey smoke circles upwards to a pale blue sky. The park is noticeably warmer now; people are trickling in, and as they pass they cannot help but look at us, an odd pair under the trees. I can smell the faint odour of sweet perfume and soap and stale cigarette smoke which surrounds her; can hear the click of her lighter flint as she makes a flame; can see, as she holds her cigarette, that one of her nails is bitten to the quick.

"Have you been out here all night?" I ask.

She nods, with a little tightening of pale lips. "Oh yes," she says. "This bench and I are old friends. It's heard more of my secrets than it cares to remember, I suspect."

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