The Drowning Woman
By: Robyn Harding
Narrators: Brittany Wilkerson,
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: 06/13/2023
My Rating: 5 Stars + (ARC)
The bestselling author of The Party returns with a deliciously twisted story of friendship, retribution, and betrayal about a homeless woman fleeing a dangerous past—and the wealthy society wife she saves from drowning, who pulls her into a dark web of secrets and lies.
Lee Gulliver never thought she’d find herself living on the streets—no one ever does—but when her restaurant fails, and she falls deeper into debt, she leaves her old life behind with nothing but her clothes and her Toyota Corolla. In Seattle, she parks in a secluded spot by the beach to lay low and plan her next move—until early one morning, she sees a sobbing woman throw herself into the ocean. Lee hauls the woman back to the surface, but instead of appreciation, she is met with fury. The drowning woman, Hazel, tells her that she wanted to die, that she’s trapped in a toxic, abusive marriage, that she’s a prisoner in her own home. Lee has thwarted her one chance to escape her life.
Out of options, Hazel retreats to her gilded cage, and Lee thinks she’s seen the last of her, until her unexpected return the next morning. Bonded by disparate but difficult circumstances, the women soon strike up a close and unlikely friendship. And then one day, Hazel makes a shocking request: she wants Lee to help her disappear. It’ll be easy, Hazel assures her, but Lee soon learns that nothing is as it seems, and that Hazel may not be the friend Lee thought she was.
About the Author
Robyn Harding is the bestselling author of several novels including The Drowning Woman, The Perfect Family, The Arrangement, Her Pretty Face, and The Party, which was a finalist for the Arthur Ellis Award for best crime novel. Her novel The Swap debuted at #1 on the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star Canadian bestsellers lists. She is also the screenwriter and executive producer of the independent film The Steps. She lives in Vancouver, BC, with her family and two cute but deadly rescue chihuahuas.
Exceptional Authors. Standout Books. Elevator Talk.
INTRIGUING QUESTIONS. INQUIRING READERS WANT TO KNOW
Behind the Book and the Author
Behind the Book
Welcome to June 2023 #AuthorElevatorSeries —where we go behind the scenes of the book and the author. We are super excited to have joining us again, a favorite — the bestselling author Robyn Harding with her thirteenth novel, the highly anticipated —THE DROWNING WOMAN. Her best yet! Top Thrillers of 2023.
Let’s Dive In.
Q. INSPIRATION: The spark that ignited the novel? Where were you when the idea came to you?
RH: One warm night, I was lying in bed with the windows open, and I heard a woman on the sidewalk having a phone conversation. It was nothing juicy, but unbeknownst to her, I could hear every word. My thriller-writer-brain started wondering: what would you do if you overheard a complete stranger plotting a crime? A murder or a suicide? Then I thought, well, you’d pick up the phone and call the police… unless you couldn’t for some reason. And that’s when I began to explore the idea of a protagonist who is homeless.
Q. TOPICS: Name 1-3 topics or themes addressed in the novel?
RH: This novel addresses themes of homelessness, domestic abuse, and lack of agency, specifically as it pertains to women.
Q. FAVORITE THING: What is your favorite thing about your new book?
RH: I love the unique structure of this book, where we see a scene from one point of view, and then we see it again from a different perspective. Some of my favorite films and TV shows have used this device, where the viewer thinks they know what’s going on and then a different perspective lets the viewer know what’s happening beneath the surface.
Q. GENRE: What continues to draw you to this genre?
RH: One of the best analogies I’ve heard to explain my fascination with the dark side is a child peeping under a rock. Some kids want to inspect the creepy crawlies that hide underneath, and some prefer to look at the pleasant veneer. I love digging into the psychological muck of characters, especially when they hide it under a façade of perfection and normalcy. I love watching, reading, and writing stories about the darkness that lies under the surface.
Q. UPCOMING: Can you share what you are currently working on or what is next in ten words or less (or more)?
RH: My next novel is called THE HATERS. It’s about a high school counselor who publishes her first novel to great acclaim. She’s over the moon until she receives an anonymous email accusing her of stealing stories from the teens she counsels. She brushes it off, but the accusation snowballs, and soon she’s being ripped apart online. When the author digs into the abuse, it only escalates, seeping into her real life. Suddenly, she’s suspecting everyone in her orbit. She must find out who is behind these attacks before they destroy her career, her relationships, and even her life.
WOW, THE HATERS sounds very intriguing!
Now for more up close and personal from Robyn below.
Behind The Author
A very specific shade of pinky/purple that is only found in nature.
FAVORITE KITCHEN/COOKING/HOME/GARDEN PRODUCT OR TIP
Pesto from Costco. I buy five jars at a time and freeze it.
FAVORITE MAKEUP/HAIR TIP
I have a blow dryer/brush in one. It’s so much easier!
Kombucha (strawberry lemonade flavor)
FAVORITE TV SERIES? (Or Movie/Video) binge-watch, series, etc.?
I will forever love THE SOPRANOS for TV and GOODFELLAS for a movie. (Yes, I love mafia stories.)
IF YOU WERE GRANTED 3 MONTHS OF UNINTERRUPTED WRITING TIME—WHERE WOULD IT BE?
A Coastal Seaside Cottage
IF YOU COULD ELIMINATE ONE THING FROM YOUR DAILY LIFE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
When I’m on deadline, I get a lot of aches and pains from staying in one place so long. I’d love to get rid of those.
DESCRIBE ONE THING ON YOUR DESK, CURRENTLY?
Essential oil diffuser.
WHICH DO YOU ENJOY WRITING MORE: DIALOGUE OR INTERNAL THOUGHTS?
I love writing dialogue! I’ve done quite a bit of screenwriting which is mostly dialogue. It’s so quick and fun.
YOUR FAVORITE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM? (Or would you prefer none of them)?
HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU WRITTEN?
THE DROWNING WOMAN is lucky 13!
WHAT WOULD YOUR DAUGHTER (OR SON) SAY ABOUT YOU BEING AN AUTHOR, IF ASKED?
“It’s not a stable career.” That’s a direct quote from my son when he was about sixteen. He’s very pragmatic. He works in tech now.
INTROVERT OR EXTROVERT?
YOUR MOST PRODUCTIVE TIME OF THE DAY?
THE ONE THING YOU’VE LEARNED YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT IN A QUARANTINE?
A dog! My fifteen-year-old dog passed away at the start of the pandemic. A year later, I got two rescue chihuahuas.
THE BEST PART OF YOUR DAY?
After dinner, when I snuggle on the couch with my chihuahuas and watch TV with my husband.
COULD YOU RECOMMEND ANY BOOKS THAT YOU HAVE READ RECENTLY AND LOVED?
I recently read and loved STRANGE SALLY DIAMOND by Liz Nugent and THE WHISPERS by Ashely Audrain.
YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO AS A CHILD?
FAVORITE CHILDHOOD BOOK?
JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH
WHAT SOUND DO YOU LOVE?
Rain on the roof at night.
THANK YOU, Robyn, for spending time with us today!
Readers, be sure and pick up a copy of THE DROWNING WOMAN! You are going to LOVE it.
"Quick moving with a plot intricate enough to keep the reader hooked."―Kirkus Reviews
"As twisty and pacey as it gets, The Drowning Woman is a dark and wild ride of redemption, betrayal, and friendship between two complex women caught in a tangle of secrets—a total page-turner."
―Ashley Audrain, New York Times bestselling author of The Push
"With deceitful characters who are not what they seem, a myriad of unexpected twists and turns, and a story that moves along at high speed, The Drowning Woman is everything I love in a thriller. Robyn Harding keeps readers hooked until the end.”
―Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of Local Woman Missing
"This edge-of-your-seat thriller combines wildly intricate plot twists and turns with complex, carefully developed characters—and reading it made me wonder if there’s anything Robyn Harding can’t pull off! I had no idea where I was headed, but knew I definitely wanted to be on this propulsive, suspenseful, often shocking ride that explores the ways in which we betray ourselves and others—and just how far we’ll go for redemption."
―Marissa Stapley, New York Times bestselling author of Lucky
“Every time I thought I knew where this story was going, it swerved in a wholly unexpected direction. A thought-provoking depiction of two seemingly opposite women who learn, in the face of danger, that they are more alike than they could have ever imagined, The Drowning Woman is masterpiece of misdirection, double meaning, and carefully placed clues. Robyn Harding made me believe that I had found my footing multiple times before pulling the rug straight out from beneath me. Brava.”
―Stacy Willingham, New York Times bestselling author of A Flicker in the Dark
"I'm in absolute awe of Robyn Harding's talent and skill. The Drowning Woman is an astonishing, expertly crafted story of two damaged women desperate for love and a fresh start whose paths collide then epically crash and burn. With one killer twist after another and a masterful plot, I gasped out loud and flipped through the brilliant pages so quickly that my fingers caught fire. It's one of the most gripping books I've read this year.”
―Samantha M. Bailey, #1 bestselling author of Woman on the Edge and Watch Out for Her
"A compelling, intriguing, masterfully crafted thriller that will sweep you up like a runaway train, I absolutely devoured The Drowning Woman. With twist after ingenious twist, this one is stylish and utterly riveting.”
―Christina McDonald, USA Today Bestselling Author of Do No Harm
“Robyn Harding is one of the most daring thriller writers out there, and The Drowning Woman is no exception. This is a wild ride with twists I never saw coming. A perfect summer read!”
―Samantha Downing, international bestselling author of My Lovely Wife
"A story of an unlikely friendship takes the darkest of turns in Robyn Harding’s latest excellent thriller. She is one of the very best storytellers and with each book, she exceeds my expectations. The Drowning Woman is no exception."
―Liz Nugent, international bestselling author of Lying in Wait
“Pulse-pounding and deliciously unpredictable, The Drowning Woman is destined to be every thriller lover’s summer obsession. Ratcheting tension and jaw-dropping reveals will leave readers questioning who they can trust—and relishing every moment of the guessing game. Robyn Harding can twist a plot like a corkscrew.”
―Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, bestselling author of The Girls Are All So Nice Here
"The Drowning Woman is brilliant. Propelled by two richly drawn women, both victims and perpetrators, who hold the possibility of saving or damning each other, its world is messy and violent in a way that feels frighteningly real and impossible to look away from. The magnetism of Harding’s writing and her jaw-dropping twists make The Drowning Woman one of those rare stories that’s both compulsively readable and full of gravitas. Harding's power as a storyteller is enormous; this book will stick with you long after reading."
―Ashley Winstead, author of The Last Housewife
The master of misdirection and twists, bestselling author Robyn Harding returns following The Perfect Family with her latest captivating thriller and thirteenth novel, THE DROWNING WOMAN—two complex women form an unlikely friendship caught up in a dangerous web of deceit, secrets, and lies.
A homeless woman living in her car saves a wealthy, troubled housewife from drowning—changing the course of both their lives.
Top 5 thrillers of 2023: Harding pulls out all the stops and checks all the boxes—her best yet!
Lee Gulliver, age 34, growing up in the Catskills, she led a comfortable life. Once a young successful restaurant owner (the Aviary) in New York City is now homeless in Seattle, living out of her older model Toyota sedan, trying to survive.
Due to the pandemic and taking a loan from a man who wanted his money back no matter what, she was forced to run. She had to admit her business; her dream, had failed.
She never dreamed of being in this dire situation. She now works at a shady diner, Uncle Jacks diner making barely enough to get by. She parks her car under bridges, during the night, fearing for her life, with a knife by her side.
Then one night her window was broken into and stole her purse with her inside the car trying to sleep. SCARY! She is mortified trying to sneak into places for free showers with other vagrants now like herself. She has nowhere to turn, and her family hates her with no friends. Plus, there is Damon, the bad guy who will kill her.
She finally decides to drive to an upscale beach neighborhood for a safer spot to park at night while sleeping, even though further to drive to work.
Then one early April morning, she spots a woman crying on the beach at dawn. She is walking into the frigid Pacific with her expensive running gear. She goes under.
Lee runs out to save her before she drowns. She gets a blanket out of her car and sits with her. How could this woman living in this neighborhood with these expensive clothes have a life worse than hers?
Soon she learns the woman's name is Hazel Laval, and she is in an abusive toxic marriage. She pretty much lives in a prison and only allowed out for a run or quick grocery shopping.
Her husband, Benjamin, is a wealthy, powerful, sadist criminal defense lawyer. Their BDSM relationship turned abusive (master and slave), and she begs Lee to help her escape. She cannot go to the police since her husband is well-connected and powerful.
The two women form a friendship. Lee knows this man must be a monster for Hazel to give up this life of privilege and luxury. However, there is something off.
Lee, desperate for connection, the two develop a bond and a plan to help Hazel escape her life. Hazel's biggest worry is her mother, that is in a care facility paid for by her husband. She has threatened if she tries to escape, her mother is as good as dead.
In the meantime, here is Jesse Thomas, a man Lee meets with a killer body and works as a trainer at a gym. However, can she trust him? Nothing is as it appears.
Told from two POVs: Lee and Hazel.
The two devise a plan. However, can Hazel be trusted?
What comes next is fast-paced twists and action, high adrenaline, misdirection, and INTENSE suspense when someone winds up DEAD. You have no clue where the author is taking you, but you are enjoying the ride.
A huge fan of the author, having read six of her latest thrillers, she is a pro at intricate plots, twists, and well-developed characters. In THE DROWNING WOMAN, I enjoyed how she brilliantly crafts a scene from one point of view, and then we see it again from a different perspective.
I LOVED THIS BOOK! I enjoyed both women, especially Lee. An edge-of-your-seat thriller, what a ride! From redemption, friendship, and betrayal, caught up in a tangle of secrets.
Addictive, highly creative, absorbing, binge-worthy, and prime for the big small, or big screen!
Wildly entertaining! And that wickedly satisfying Epilogue! The Nest— priceless!
Harding fans will devour it! For fans of intelligent domestic thrillers—if you have not read Robyn's books, I highly recommend them. THE DROWNING WOMAN is a favorite.
Check out my #AuthorElevatorSeries Q&A Interviews with Robyn where we go behind the scenes of the book & the author:
Blog Review posted @
@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks
Pub Date: June 13, 2023
My Rating: 5 🌟STARS ++
Click on the above graphics for previous #AuthorElevatorSeries Interviews with the fabulous bestselling author, Robyn Harding where we go behind the scenes of the book and the author!