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- Narrated by: Maggie Pettet
- Length: 9 hrs and 24 mins
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After Drowning is set in a small fishing town on the shores of Lake Erie and concerns the volatile fortunes of a fishing family.
At one time, Lake Erie was the home of a thriving fishing industry, but the sad fortunes of the lake have limited the industry, forcing those who live near it to adapt. A drowning, a tragedy witnessed by Penelope Beau and her four-year-old daughter, Maddy, brings back memories of Pen’s childhood: the death of her father, Rod, in a boating accident, which may or may not have been an accident, and the subsequent disappearance of her brother, Keaton, who fled town after an act of arson.
Also on the beach on the day of the drowning is Tom Valentine, a member of the Bandido biker gang, who is inexorably involved with a club-sanctioned bloody showdown. Now, abandoned and betrayed, a solitary Tom must contemplate the true nature of his relationships.
Pen and Tom’s lives intersect, both outliers who must find a way to reconcile the various threads of their lives.
What the critics say
“To skim Valerie Mills-Milde’s debut novel After Drowning would be much like trying to run through a body of water. Her writing is velvety and verdant; but rather than heavy, padded descriptions, the author is painting in oils for the mind’s eye.” (Scene Magazine)
“After Drowning is a beautifully written and powerfully moving novel about a young mother’s journey of finding an anchor for her heart in the permanence of change. Valerie Mills-Milde vividly paints microscopic but telling details of complex emotions, thoughts, and descriptions with a deft use of imagery and metaphor. This book nimbly travels through relationships, grief, abandonment, trust, and hope all against the backdrop of a lake that has seeped into the souls of the main characters. This is a book to be felt, savoured, and loved.” (Sky Curtis, author of Doctored, A Gut Reaction, and the forthcoming Flush)
“In her debut novel, After Drowning, Valerie Mills-Milde has mined new territory in a Canadian setting we know little about with a cast of characters that will stay with the reader long after finishing the book, not the least of which is Lake Erie - a beautiful lake that used to provide bounty in the form of fish but can turn on a dime into a menacing adversary with a capacity to kill. Pen and her daughter, Maddie, have returned to Port to stay with her mother and stepfather while Pen sorts out the problems with her marriage. While playing on the beach with her daughter, Pen witnesses a drowning, which triggers memories that set her on a course of self-examination and, ultimately, of release from the constraints and insecurity she has felt all her life. What we learn about the past from Pen's memories and her internal life is inexorably linked with events that roll out to a surprising and satisfying climax. Love and relationships may fail us in life, but without them we are set adrift, as this author so beautifully demonstrates.” (Renate Krakauer, author of Only by Blood)