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The Town that Drowned

Riel Nason    
Format: Paperback - C format
Pages: 272
AUD $29.99inc. GST
The Town that Drowned


When fourteen-year-old Ruby Carson takes a tumble through the ice she nearly drowns. Coming to, she has a vision of her town under water that she shares with the assembled crowd. Already something of an oddity, the vision solidifies her status as an outcast. But as it turns out, she was right . . . A tender, funny and charming coming-of-age tale that will steal your heart.


Living with a weird brother in a small town can be tough enough. Having a spectacular fall through the ice at a skating party and nearly drowning are grounds for embarrassment. But having a vision and narrating it to the assembled crowd solidifies your status as an outcast.

What Ruby Carson saw during that fateful day was her entire town, buildings and people floating underwater. Then an orange-tipped surveyor stake turns up in a farmer's field. Another is found in the cemetery. A man with surveying equipment is spotted eating lunch near Pokiok Falls. The residents of Haverton soon discover that a massive dam is being constructed and that most of their homes will be swallowed by the rising water.

Suspicions mount, tempers flare, and secrets are revealed. As the town prepares for its own demise, 14-year-old Ruby Carson sees it all from a front-row seat. Set in the 1960s, The Town That Drowned evokes the awkwardness of childhood, the thrill of first love, and the importance of having a place to call home. Award-winning writer Riel Nason's keen insights into human nature and the depth of human attachment to place make this novel ripple in an amber tension of light and shadow.


Winner, Commonwealth Book Prize, 2012
Short-listed, CLA Young Adult Book Award, 2012
Winner, Margaret and John Savage First Book Award, 2012
Winner, Frye Academy Award, 2013
Short-listed, OLA Red Maple Award, 2013

Riel Nason's short fiction has appeared in The Antigonish Review, The Malahat Review, Grain and The Dalhousie Review among others. In 2005, she was awarded the David Adams Richards Prize for a collection of short fiction from the Writers' Federation of New Brunswick, adding to the three other short fiction prizes she's earned from the WFNB. She lives in New Brunswick, Canada.

ISBN: 9781743314609
Australian Pub.: February 2013
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Imprint: Allen & Unwin
Subject: Literary fiction
Edition Number:

Reader reviews

'As the town constructed itself bit by bit in my imagination, the richness of the characters dominated the stage. Ruby's parents exuded love and good sense, I wanted to cry when Ellis Cole chose that particular, if predictable, solution (those oh so carefully folded clothes, socks and pair of shoes found in the tree!) And Miss Stairs and her spending ways left me breathless with shock. As for Ruby herself - there never was a child that was more to be admired, that was more thoughtful and kind. And I knew exactly how she felt about her extraordinarily bright brother, and how much she wanted to protect him from the world. I was a big sister too, not only to my two younger brothers but to my older brother, too, if that makes sense! I would have liked the nasty schoolgirls to receive a short, sharp lesson of some sort, or perhaps be given a terrible disaster of their own to contend with, if Ruby decided not to box their ears, that is. And as the pages to read diminished, and the town's days were numbered, I wanted to prepare my own bottle and cast it out to sea, if only I didn't live inland! A carefully crafted and delightful work that thoroughly deserved to win the Commonwealth Book Prize.' - B. Welsh, VIC

'This is a hauntingly beautiful novel that captured me from its first pages and kept me reading to its end in one sitting.' - B. McCauley, ACT

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