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December 16 , 2009

The Knowledge of Water


How can a madman fall in love?

"I will marry you," Perdita Halley said to Alexander von Reisden at eighteen, "but not until I study music." Now, at twenty-one, she has come to Paris, his city – but music still stands between them. She is pursuing her dream of becoming a concert pianist; he is trying for the less likely one of becoming an ordinary, unhaunted man. They are drawn into an all-consuming passion that seems destined for tragedy. Perdita cannot marry and attend the Conservatoire; Alexander, still haunted by his past, fears to marry at all.

As incessant rain dims the City of Lights, an intricate network of plots and counterplots swirls around the couple. And an elegant game of art and life turns deadly, as a madman follows them, threatening to destroy them both in retribution for a murder they know nothing about –

Or do they?

"Stunning," said The New York Times Book Review of Sarah Smith's historical mystery, The Vanished Child. Now, with The Knowledge of Water, Sarah Smith delves even more deeply into the realm of deception and menace that she has made uniquely her own. Set in Paris during the devastating flood of 1910, The Knowledge of Water is a lush, complex, beautifully written novel about the consuming pleasures of passion and the obsessive perils of art.

"A lushly erotic, feminist study of artists and lovers and killers swept up in their obsessive passions. An exquisite stylist, [Smith] observes her characters in the most intimate detail, defining them with witty precision and placing them in a rain-drenched portrait of Edwardian Paris that could hang in the Louvre." - The New York Times (Notable Book of the Year)

"Intellectual stimulation of the highest order...a ripping yarn with provocative and substantial things to say." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Haunting...An accessible mix of historical speculation, literary allusion, and suspense, The Knowledge of Water could become this year's Name of the Rose." - Entertainment Weekly

"As satisfying a mystery as the Mona Lisa's smile." - USA Today

"Brilliant...This splendid book centers on earning the right to see – and to express what one sees, feels, knows." - The San Francisco Chronicle

"Envelops the reader with history, mystery and passion...Dark and engrossing, this production is magnifique." - The Boston Sunday Herald

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