The Drowning Girl

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What’s the matter with Sylvie?

Such a pretty girl. Four years old; well-loved by her young mother, Grace. But there’s something… off about the child. Her deathly fear of water; her night terrors; most of all, her fixation with a photo of an Irish fishing village called Coldharbour.

            “Sylvie, tell me about your picture. Why’s it so special, sweetheart?” My heart is racing, but I try to make my voice quite calm.
            “That’s my seaside, Grace.” Very matter-of-fact, as though this should be obvious. “I lived there, Grace. Before.”
            I sit very still for a long slow moment. Cold moves over my skin.
            “I don’t know about it,” I say.
            “Don’t you, Grace?” She seems surprised.

Published  in the UK as The Drowning Girl, in the US as Yes, My Darling Daughter, and in Spain as La Memoria del Agua. French, Dutch, Italian and Chinese rights also sold.

"Yes, My Darling Daughter": Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, April 2009. Paperback: Picador, New York, March 2010

“The Drowning Girl”, Mira, London, 15 May

“La Memoria del Agua”: Random House, Spain. Out now.

“A poignant ghost story about a little girl who remembers another life and tortures her frantic mother by hinting at the dangers it still holds. Ms Leroy is an evocative writer who expertly conjures up the cloud of fear enveloping a mother struggling to reach her child and realizing that she is trying to understand the incomprehensible.” Washington Times

“Heavy with atmosphere and rich in detail, Leroy’s prose lures readers into a disturbing murder mystery. Her characters are as realistic and intriguing as her locales in England and Ireland.” Publishers’ Weekly

“This is a really special book. Sylvie’s vulnerability is so powerfully drawn, so flesh-and-blood real, that you want to reach into the pages and protect her yourself.” Louise Candlish

“Leroy’s mellifluous prose perfectly captures the downhearted struggles of Grace and the deep interiors of Sylvie’s mind, which in turn burn at the heart of this melancholy mystery.” Michael Leonard,

“The most angelically written and chilling novel about murder and reincarnation and haunted little girls.” Jenny Davidson,

“I’m sifting through a few books for a Mother’s Day-themed review round-up… The stunner of the pack so far has been Margaret Leroy’s Yes, My Darling Daughter, a haunting tale the publisher had the audacity to suggest was a modern Rebecca. Well, it is.” Diane Stresing

"A stunning, engaging and enlightening tale of motherly love... Gothic fiction at its best." Katherine Bailey, Minneapolis Star Tribune.

"A sincere and emotive story that will capture you from the very first page. Prepare to fall in love with these characters as you join them on a haunting journey to discover the shocking truth about the past." Alison Kerridge

"I've rarely read such an accurate and touching account of what it's like to be in charge of a child whom you love but cannot really understand. The reason for this lack of understanding is spooky and Leroy does the spookiness brilliantly. This is a really enjoyable book and perfect holiday reading." Adele Geras

"A great read, a well thought-out plot with a good build to the final crisis." A May 2009 Book of the Month.

"Engrossing, almost chilling, and yet a joyous story... For literary readers who like a touch of the other-worldly Rebecca in their reading." Cleveland Plain Dealer.

"Leroy has a lovely way with words and characters... This is fine fiction." kentmom at

"Disturbed child. Extraordinary mystery. Great read."

"Margaret Leroy's eerily lovely novel is one of those rare books that you'll sit with till your bones ache. The mystery of why 4-year-old Sylvie longs to return to a house she has never seen, a family she has never known, takes this peculiar child, her anxious single mother, and a romantically scruffy psychologist onto the windswept beaches of a tiny coastal Irish village - a setting as enchantingly perilous as childhood itself."
Oprah's Book Club: 25 Books You Can't Put Down.

"A gentle spookiness which has you forgetting to breathe... I was entranced from the very first page."

"The combination of mystery, ghost story and the dilemma for poor Grace makes for an utterly compelling read. It's the sort of page-turner that keeps you up all night, or makes you hope for an all-stations train instead of an express." Sarah Minns, Good Reading magazine

"If ever there was a page-turner, The Drowning Girl is it. Chilling yet completely engaging, it holds the attention right to the very end... If the definition of a perfect summer read is a book that will engross you from beginning to end, taking you to a place you've never been before, the Drowning Girl is it. Margaret Leroy has succeeded in creating characters you'll feel deeply for and a plot that will give you shivers up your spine." The Clare People

"Leroy's words entice readers into a nonstop and exciting murder mystery." Feminist Review

"I was drawn in to the story from the start - and the many twists and turns make it a satisfying read. For my UK readers you will understand when I say this would make a perfect ITV drama mini-series!"

"Are there children who remember their past lives when they are born? I think it is an intriguing thought, and I like the way Margaret Leroy approaches this subject, taking a 'mother suspense' and giving it a modern Gothic twist. Once again, Margaret Leroy has written an unusual book which I truly enjoyed." Judi Clark,

"The past life and present have merged in this novel and the supporting characters somehow make it so plausible... A book that holds interest and satisfies that something which every reader wants and wishes for." Gautami Tripathy

"Narrated fluidly by Grace, Yes, My Darling Daughter is a charming page-turner. It is Margaret Leroy's fifth novel, and clearly the work of an accomplished writer - a haunting book and a tantalizing read." website of The Providence Journal

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