Michael Pye The Drowning Room

ISBN 13: 9780670865987

The Drowning Room

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9780670865987: The Drowning Room
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A blend of history, love story, and memoir, a novel set in the seventeenth century tells the story of Gretje Reyniers, a moneylender, pelt dealer, and town prostitute in New Amsterdam who rises to fame and fortune. 15,000 first printing.

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About the Author:

Michael Pye writes for a living—as a novelist, journalist, historian, and sometimes broadcaster. He is English by birth, but civilized by study in Italy and a newspaper apprenticeship in Scotland. For 20 years he commuted between New York and Europe as a political and cultural columnist for British newspapers. He now lives with his partner John Holm in a tiny village in the forests of rural Portugal. He has published ten books, and is proud of some of them: The Movie Brats, written with Lynda Myles, which was the first serious study of what the Scorsese generation did to Hollywood; King Over The Water, which exposed the machinations of the Duke of Windsor in the wartime Bahamas; Maximum City, the biography of New York which set out to find the roots and history of the city's magic; The Drowning Room, a novel on the first whore of New York in its wild Dutch days; and, of course, Taking Lives.

From Publishers Weekly:

From a sketchy but provocative set of facts, Pye has constructed a chilling, unforgettably haunting story set in Manhattan in the 1600s. The facts, which the author found in 17th-century New Amsterdam legal ledgers when researching his Maximum City: The Biography of New York, concern a woman named Gretje Reyniers: that she arrived from Amsterdam on a ship called the Soutberg; that she was married to a sailor named Anthony "the Turk" Janssen; that she publicly declared herself tired of being the nobility's whore; that on the waterfront she measured on a broomstick the genitalia of three sailors; that she owned various tracts of land and did some moneylending; that, five years after being banished from the settlement, she was again living there. The novel opens during a severe winter that has closed the harbor and made Gretje a widow?a tooth infection has led to the Turk's death. The frozen ground makes burial impossible, and so the Turk lies in a coffin in Gretje's backyard, amplifying her loneliness. When the elusive Pieter, an apparently orphaned adolescent, intrudes upon her grief, Gretje suspects him of being either an angel or a demon ("more tart than angel" she thinks). Through subtle proddings, Pieter prompts Gretje to revisit her life?a grim and nearly loveless catalogue of legal wrangles, prostitution, abandoned infants and flight from the plague. The sole bright spot is her strained, but lifelong, relationship with the Turk. In prose so terse it's almost rude, Pye endows his 17th century with a brutal physicality and casual violence. (The title refers to a method of execution the Turk particularly fears, in which the victim is put in a cell and water poured in.) The author's paramount accomplishment, though, is taking a woman whose character reflects this barbarity and making her life a fascinating tale of grim beauty.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780140141498: The Drowning Room

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ISBN 10:  0140141499 ISBN 13:  9780140141498
Publisher: Penguin Books, 1997
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9780140141207: The Drowning Room

Pengui..., 1995
Hardcover

9780140141221: Drowning Room

Pengui..., 1996
Softcover

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