Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Review: Lost Lake

Summary: The first time Eby Pim saw Lost Lake, it was on a picture postcard. Just an old photo and a few words on a small square of heavy stock, but when she saw it, she knew she was seeing her future.

That was half a life ago. Now Lost Lake is about to slip into Eby’s past. Her husband George is long passed. Most of her demanding extended family are gone. All that’s left is a once-charming collection of lakeside cabins succumbing to the Southern Georgia heat and damp, and an assortment of faithful misfits drawn back to Lost Lake year after year by their own unspoken dreams and desires.

It’s a lot, but not enough to keep Eby from relinquishing Lost Lake to a developer with cash in hand, and calling this her final summer at the lake. Until one last chance at family knocks on her door.

Lost Lake is where Kate Pheris spent her last best summer at the age of twelve, before she learned of loneliness, and heartbreak, and loss. Now she’s all too familiar with those things, but she knows about hope too, thanks to her resilient daughter Devin, and her own willingness to start moving forward. Perhaps at Lost Lake her little girl can cling to her own childhood for just a little longer… and maybe Kate herself can rediscover something that slipped through her fingers so long ago.

One after another, people find their way to Lost Lake, looking for something that they weren’t sure they needed in the first place: love, closure, a second chance, peace, a mystery solved, a heart mended. Can they find what they need before it’s too late?

At once atmospheric and enchanting, Lost Lake shows Sarah Addison Allen at her finest, illuminating the secret longings and the everyday magic that wait to be discovered in the unlikeliest of places. -- St. Martin's Press

It's been awhile since I've read a novel by Sarah Addison Allen; however, when I read the description for her latest book titled LOST LAKE, I thought it sounded like a book I might enjoy. I'm the first to admit that I'm not usually drawn to stories with elements of magic, but I do remember thinking Ms. Allen did a great job of incorporating this into her books and making it "believable." I also happened to read a few very positive reviews for LOST LAKE, and truth be told, they did persuade me to give this one a try.

At it's heart, LOST LAKE was really a lovely story about a widow named Kate who has been "sleeping" for the past year ever since her husband died. Fortunately (or unfortunately as the case may be), Kate's domineering mother-in-law has been "helping" Kate and her eight year old daughter Devin.; and she recently sold Kate's house and wants to move them in with her. On moving day, Kate discovers an old postcard from her aunt Eby who owns some cabins at Lost Lake; and Kate decides to take Devin to visit. Lost Lake holds a special place in Kate's heart and she remembers her stay there as the last summer she was truly happy.

When Kate arrives at Lost Lake, she learns that Eby can no longer maintain the cabins and is selling them to a developer. Kate and Devin feel an immediate connection to Lost Lake and the people who are staying there for one last summer, and they are both saddened that Eby and the cabins will no longer be there.

Meanwhile, Devin discovers a magical alligator who leads her to a missing box from past. (It wouldn't be a Sarah Addison Allen book if there wasn't some magic!) As Kate learns more about Lost Lake and the secrets in the box, she rediscover her true self and is finally able to move forward and make a new life for herself and her daughter.

I really enjoyed LOST LAKE! I mentioned that I'm not a huge fan of books with mythical elements; however, it didn't really bother me that there was a talking alligator in this story. Having said that, I will admit that the story between the alligator and Devin wasn't my favorite part of this novel. It definitely worked for me and it was an interesting way to uncover secrets from the characters' pasts, but I much preferred some other things about this story -- namely the cast of characters and the atmospheric writing.

I thought the characters in LOST LAKE were so much fun. I loved Kate and Eby, and it was interesting to see how both of them changed throughout the novel. I truly loved how Kate "got her groove back." In addition, I found Eby's best friend Lisette, who was unable to speak and communicated with a ghost from her past, to be intriguing; and I appreciated how the book explored her character's development and eventual romance. However, I think it was the oddball cast of misfits that visited LOST LAKE that really captured my heart. These characters were very funny, yet all of them had big hearts; and I loved how they pulled together to help Eby!

Another thing I really liked about LOST LAKE was Ms. Allen's writing. She has proved time and time again that she has a way with words, and she truly does a great job of incorporating magical realism into her stories. In the case of this novel, I thought she did a great job with bringing the setting of Lost Lake to life for the reader. I loved her gorgeous descriptions of the property as well as her details about how run down the cabins were; and I liked that I was able to picture everything so vividly.

LOST LAKE would make for a very interesting book club selection. I wasn't able to find a formal reading guide, but don't let that deter you from picking this book for your next meeting. The story is sweet and definitely a feel-good story (at least the ending is!), and there are many topics to discuss including loss, grief, family, guilt, love, friendship, second chances, and redemption. 

LOST LAKE is sure to be a hit with fans of Sarah Addison Allen. It's a beautiful story that is guaranteed to warm your heart. Highly recommended.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.


bermudaonion said...

I don't seek out books with magical elements but don't mind them if they're done well. I went to a lunch for Allen and discovered other people love those elements and her books. She has some serious fans! I need to read one of her books soon!

Beth F said...

Books with magical elements are hit or miss with me. But this one sounds like it hits on good themes.