Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Iris Standish has always been the responsible older sibling: the one with the steady marriage, loving family, and sensible job. But all of a sudden, as her carefully-constructed life spins out of her control, a cryptic postcard from her estranged sister Leah arrives at the perfect time: Please Come. Iris seizes her chance to escape to her childhood lakeside home, where Leah is planning her summer wedding to a man their New Hampshire clan has never met.
Against a backdrop of dress fittings, floral arrangements, and rehearsal dinners, Leah hides secrets of her own. And while her sister faces a past that has finally caught up to her, Iris prepares to say good-bye to a future that is suddenly far from certain. As new love beckons and Hampstead Lake shimmers in the background, Iris must decide when to wade in cautiously and when to dive—and, ultimately, how to ferry herself to safe harbors in this enticing novel of second chances and the ties that bind. -- Emily Bestler Books
I am embarrassingly behind on reviews! That's an understatement because I have stacks of books that I've read this summer and haven't gotten around to reviewing. As I was looking through the stacks to try to find a book to review, I discovered THE LAKE SEASON by Hannah McKinnon. I read this novel earlier this summer when I was in the Outer Banks, and I remember expecting a light and fluffy beach read about two sisters. Rather, it was a really well written book that tackled some serious issues. I thoroughly enjoyed THE LAKE SEASON.
THE LAKE SEASON tells the Iris Standish, the older of two sisters who has always been the dependable one. She is happily married with kids and holds down a steady job... until recently. Her life is in a bit of out-of-control, so when she receives a postcard from her sister Leah (the wild one!) asking her to come home, Iris rushes to her family's lakeside home in New Hampshire.
When Iris arrives, she finds her mother and sister caught up in Leah's wedding plans. As Iris tries to come to terms with what's happening in her life, she finds a friend from the past who further complicates her life... but also provides some much needed attention. In addition to discovering more about her own life, Iris realizes that her sister Leah has her own set of problems.
I really, really liked THE LAKE SEASON. As I mentioned earlier, I was expecting more of a beach read given the setting and the potential romance aspect of the story; however, I quickly discovered that this was a novel with some substance. This book delves into some complex family dynamics as well as mental illness, and I thought the author handled these subjects very well.
One thing that really stood out to me about this novel were the characters, especially the two sisters Iris and Leah. These two sisters couldn't have been more different on the outside, and they really weren't even very close as adults. However, when Leah asked Iris to "come," she immediately dropped everything and was there for her sister. I think all sisters understand that! And that's probably one of the beautiful things about this novel is that is shows how special (albeit complicated) the relationship between sisters is.
I really enjoyed seeing how much Iris changed throughout the course of the novel. She was seemingly the stable sister with a good husband, family and career; however, her life wasn't as perfect as it appeared. She went back home to help with her sister's wedding, but she also needed to be grounded to figure out her own life. What I loved about this story is that not only did Iris figure out her situation, but she was also able to see (maybe for the first time) Leah's complicated life. It wasn't an easy road for Iris, but when push came to shove, she was there for her sister.
This is the first novel that I've read by Ms. McKinnon -- she has written two books for young readers, and I have to say that I was impressed. I liked how she took a somewhat predictable plot about a middle-aged woman at a crossroads in her life and made it special. Her storytelling abilities are great. She incorporated just enough humor to make the book fun, while also touching upon some very serious issues. And her character development was very, very good. I wouldn't hesitate to read another novel, and I'm actually looking forward to more from this promising author.
I'm sure you can already predict that THE LAKE SEASON would make a good book club selection. I love books with complex (or dysfunctional) families and this book has two sisters with a very interesting relationship. There really is a great deal to discuss from character relationships to the book's themes to symbols. There is a reading guide available with thirteen questions along with some ideas for ways to enhance your book club meeting. Some of the themes you might want to explore include families, loss, second chances, mental illness, forgiveness, self-awareness, truth, sisterhood, and love.
THE LAKE SEASON is a touching and thought-provoking novel about two very different sisters. I enjoyed this well written story and recommend it to fans of women's fiction.
Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.