Iris Greenfeder has a lot of almost's in her life, she's almost in an amazing relationship, almost (well, ok not almost) done with her dissertation and almost has all the knowledge she ever wants to know about her mother. While teaching English for new immigrants, indifferent art students and convicts she comes up with an assignment about Fairytales of peoples childhood. Her assignment inspires her to start writing about her mother, a famous novelist herself and sets her in motion to go back to the hotel she grew up in and find out everything there is to know about her mother and the unpublished third book of the trilogy she was writing. Along the way she falls for one of her ex students, meets up with old acquaintance and learns that there may be more interesting secrets in her mothers life than where she hid the manuscript.
Carol Goodman does an excellent job of depicting a Hotel rich in history and personality in the Hotel Equinox, where the majority of the story takes place. Her characters are rich with excellent and often quirky personalities. Iris herself often toes the line from so single minded she could end up annoying, but she always snaps back into a driven girl. Among other characters are Aidan, an ex-con with a great story and a huge heart, Aunt Sophie, who is strict but caring and Harry Kron who's Hotel chain and arts patronage saves Iris's childhood home.
The most compelling part of this story is the mixture between fairytale and real life. The Seduction of the Water starts with a short piece Iris wrote about a Selkie story her mother used to tell her. It sets the tone for all the other often overlooked tales that are incorporated in the book, such as the Tam-Lin and the Swan Wife. Most chapters are started with and excerpt for Tirra Glynn books her mother wrote that also incorporate old world fairy tales, a new and interesting fantasy work and snip-its of her own life.
While the story does have a mystery element it doesn't play as big of a part as the romantic themes and life searching moments that can be found throughout the novel. All in all it was a quick, compelling read. Definitely worth checking out at the library or buying as a paperback.
As always, past reviews can be found at here