Read Something New Review

The Secret To Not Drowning

by Colette Snowden


{ Evocative : Empathetic : Empowering }


Is it possible that Marion may be able to find the same sense of freedom in life as she does when Swimming?


This book displays the ‘normalities’ of a completely abnormal, highly dysfunctional relationship. We enter into a tragic hospital trip. The kind of tragedy that can fundamentally change a person and Marion begins to slowly nudge the boundaries set in place by her abusive husband.


Snowden invites you to really care about Marion’s well being. She is gradually revealed to be an intelligent and witty character. Yet, her husband invades every aspect of her life and thought process and instantly becomes someone you just have to hate. To great effect Snowden never names the husband in her novel. Marion thinks and refers to her husband as ‘He’ or ‘Him’, the capital H in her life, God-like and utterly feared, her very own he-who-must-not-be-named. The lack of emotional connection serves to dehumanise the character and quite rightly so. It occurred to me that there is a suggestion that ‘He’ could be someone hidden in our own lives. A chilling thought if you’ve read this one!


The friends Marion makes (a miracle in itself) have a great impact on her life. Asking the question if ‘He’ was the husband of your friend how would you help? How can you help when someone has become so mentally enslaved by another? The Secret To not Drowning shows the cruel, controlling and abusive nature of Narcissistic Syndrome. Yet the novel displays how friendship or everyday acts of kindness can be life saving.


This is an evocative, highly researched and tense read. With characters so thoroughly accurate you have to remind yourself it is a fiction. Throughout the novel the question remains, will the amputated sparks of life and humour Marion once possessed resurface, or will they drown in the pool of her husbands cruelty?

Reviewed by Emily Burgoyne on behalf of Chapter One Books