The Marsh Queen
By: Virginia Hartman
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: 05/10/2021
My Rating: TBR (ARC)
For fans of Where the Crawdads Sing, this powerful debut novel, set amid the lush landscape of the Florida wetlands, delves into past crimes, old memories, and the eloquent, limitless expanse of parental love.
Loni Mae Murrow’s life as a bird artist at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, is tidy, if a trifle constrained—until she’s abruptly summoned back home to the wetlands of northern Florida, where she grew up. Her mother, critical and difficult, has grown frail and been resentfully consigned to assisted living, and her younger brother, Phil, juggling a job, a wife, and two young children, needs her help. Loni may not be her mother’s only child, but there are some things only a daughter can do.
Going through her mother’s things when she returns, Loni finds a cryptic note from a woman whose name she doesn’t recognize: “There are some things I have to tell you about Boyd’s death,” it reads. Boyd is her father, a man who drowned in a boating accident out on the marsh when Loni was twelve and Phil just a baby. The circumstances of his death, long presumed a suicide, turn out to be murkier than anyone thought.
Against her better judgment, she finds herself drawn into a dangerous quest to discover the truth about how he died, struggling all the while to reconnect with her mother through the remnants of their past and to reconcile with her brother and his pushy, provincial wife. At last moved to avenge the wrongs done to her family, Loni has to decide whether to join the violence or end it.
About the Author
Photo Credit: Danielle Price
Virginia Hartman’s debut novel The Marsh Queen will be published by Gallery/Simon & Schuster in May 2022. Her fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in the Hudson Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, the Washingtonian, Redux, Potomac Review, Delmarva Review, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Sligo Journal, and Bluebird City, among others, and her work has been anthologized in Gravity Dancers: Even More Fiction by Washington Area Women (Paycock Press). She is also the co-editor, with Barbara Esstman, of A More Perfect Union: Poems and Stories about the Modern Wedding.
Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her writing has been supported by the Sewanee Writer’s Conference and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her stories have been shortlisted for the New Letters prize, the Tennessee Williams Festival Prize, and the Dana Awards. She holds an MFA from American University and teaches creative writing at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
In her fiction, readers might notice a preoccupation with the workings of the natural world, the intertwining of the intellect and the human heart, and the ways her characters must navigate between the sometimes overlapping forces of good and evil.
Find out more at VirginiaHartman.com.