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Based on the unsolved real-life disappearance of a Mount Holyoke student in 1897—a haunting novel of intrigue, longing, and terror, perfect for fans of Donna Tartt and Sarah Waters
Massachusetts, 1897: Bertha Mellish, “the most peculiar, quiet, reserved girl” at Mount Holyoke College, is missing.
As a search team dredges the pond where Bertha might have drowned, her panicked father and sister arrive desperate to find some clue to her fate or state of mind. Bertha’s best friend, Agnes, a scholarly loner studying medicine, might know the truth, but she is being unhelpfully tightlipped, inciting the suspicions of Bertha’s family, her classmates, and the private investigator hired by the Mellish family doctor. As secrets from Agnes’s and Bertha’s lives come to light, so do the competing agendas driving each person who is searching for Bertha.
Where did Bertha go? Who would want to hurt her? And could she still be alive?
Edmund White Award–winning author Katharine Beutner takes a real-life unsolved mystery and crafts it into an unforgettable historical portrait of academia, family trauma, and the risks faced by women who dared to pursue unconventional paths at the end of the 19th century.
Katharine Beutner is an assistant professor of English at the College of Wooster in Ohio; previously, she taught at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa. She earned a BA in Classical Studies at Smith College and an MA in English (creative writing) and a PhD in English literature at the University of Texas at Austin. Her first novel, Alcestis, won the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award and was a finalist for other awards, including the Lambda Literary Association’s Lesbian Debut Fiction Award. Her writing has appeared in Tinfish, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Public Books, The Toast, TriQuarterly, Humanities, and other publications. Recently, she received an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award. She is the editor in chief of The Dodge, a magazine of eco-writing and translation.
The Odyssey Bookshop has received permission from the publisher to sell Killingly before the official publication date because of the high interest we expect from Mt Holyoke alumnae and students. No copies will be sold before June 6, except during these two weekends.