I am probably one of the few people on earth who didn't read The Memory Keeper's Daughter, which was really what put Kim Edwards on the map. She's back again, with the very recently released Lake of Dreams. I briefly met Kim Edwards at SIBA, and received a signed copy of her book, which I intended to donate to our Adult Literacy League auction (after I gently read it!). Unfortunately I realized that the book is an uncorrected proof so I can't donate it, which is too bad because I think this book would have been very well-received!
Synopsis: Lucy Jarrett is a twenty-something who has traveled around the world with success in her career, but is currently in between jobs and at a crossroads with her boyfriend. When her mother is injured in an automobile accident, Lucy returns back to her home to confront and resolve some loose ends...the tragic drowning death of her father when she was a teenager, and an old romance.
In a hidden and locked compartment in her family home, Lucy discovers some old letters and pamphlets from the early 1900's that seem to belong to a woman named Rose, who seems to be a long-lost relative. Who was she, and what happened to her and her daughter Iris? Why has no one in the family heard of them? Lucy embarks on a search for this missing link in her heritage, and find that it leads to beautiful and mysterious stained glass windows, stories of the suffragette movement, and a tragic story of a young mother.
Lucy also comes face-to-face with the realities of her father's death and her buried feelings for her high school sweetheart that will allow her to move on with her life.
My thoughts: I would be lying if I told her I didn't struggle through the first half of this novel. I'm pretty sure it was my fault. I was distracted, I had thirty projects going on all at once, and I found very little time to spend reading. However, shouldn't a really good read convince me to blow off my responsibilities? Maybe. But I trudged on, because when you think about the bullet points of this story...mysterious family history, old letters, turn-of-the-century women's movement, secrets hidden within the stained glass windows of a local artist...it's got all the right ingredients. And I'm glad I persevered.
There is something very appealing to me about solving a mystery through old letters. Letters are windows of first-person narrative into the past. (It makes me sad that nobody writes handwritten letters anymore. Will our great-grandchildren be able to learn about us through our blog posts?) And Edwards expertly captures that mystique that I find so charming.
She also understands the complications of family dynamics, the old feuds, the bickering over land and money, sibling rivalry, and both the conflicting pain and comfort of going home to all of this. Even if you've been away for a long time, it is so hard not to immediately be drawn into the fray. All of Lucy's emotions and turmoil upon entering her hometown were very familiar and realistic.
Perhaps the one fault of this book is that is too gentle for readers with their brains stretched over the surrounding three counties. The story is compelling and picks up speed as it goes, and about halfway through I was able to get some traction and blast through the last half. For those of you that prefer plots being tied up neatly, this is a book that will meet your expectations. While I like a little chaos and havoc at the end of my books, this particular conclusion fit the mood of the story and I was pleased. Overall, this is a book I would recommend to anyone who is able to focus and enjoy a good story.
3.5 out of 5 stars