Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Lake of Dreams - Kim Edwards


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















23 comments:

Melody said...

I enjoyed The Memory Keeper's Daughter! I hope you'll add that onto your to-read list, Sandy.

I'll check out Lake of Dreams though it won't be on my to-read list soon... too many books to tackle, lol.

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

I never got around to reading her debut so I might start with that. I read the jacket of this one and something about it didn't compel me to pick it up. The storyline seemed to go in too many directions.

farmlanebooks said...

I'm another person who never got around to reading her first. I own a copy and hope to get to it at some point. It sounds as though it is much better than this...

bermudaonion said...

How in the heck did I miss Kim Edwards at SIBA? I loved The Memory Keeper's Daughter, so I really want to read this one. I will keep in mind that it starts out slow.

Julie P. said...

I'm having similar reading issues right now. I dread writing my reviews for the past few books because I might be having a bad reading phase.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Seems to be a big theme lately, finding letters from the past and having the two stories going on.

Zibilee said...

I did not really like The Memory Keeper's Daughter that much, and have been sort of skeptical of picking this one up based on that reaction. It does sound as though this book might fit me a bit better than her first, but I am not sure I would read this one.

I also know what you mean about having other things pull you away from reading, and not being able to focus. That has been happening to me an awful lot in the past few weeks, and I am so behind!

Avid Reader said...

I'm with Zibilee, I wasn't a huge fan of The Memory Keeper's Daughter, so I'm skeptical of this one. I do love the old letters premise though.

Ti said...

Unfortunately, I didn't care for The Memory Keeper's Daughter so I am waiting a bit longer before picking this one up.

Kay said...

I liked MEMORY KEEPER'S DAUGHTER. I didn't love it. I was frustrated with parts. Reading your experience with LAKE OF DREAMS, I think I will wait a bit to try this one. I am struggling with reading focus horribly right now and I know that I would like the whole hidden letters scenario. I don't want to spoil that. Thanks for sharing!

The Bumbles said...

I suppose they will know of us through our blog posts! The world survived on oral story telling for a long time before written letters and diaries existed. It will survive modern story telling as well. But a person's voice or handwriting personalizes things so much more. That's why I have boxes and boxes of letters from my youth. The only part of my former pack rat days that I can't give up. Glad you were rewarded in the second half of this book - I love it when perseverance pays off.

marthalama said...

I never did read The Memory Keeper's Daughter. I think I have a copy somewhere. I love a good story told with letters. There's something a little voyeuristic about it.

heidenkind said...

I never read The Memory Keeper's Daughter, either. Oh well! So many books, so little time.

Melissa M said...

I'm on the fence if I want to read this one or not. I read Memory Keepers Daugher years ago, and it fell flat for me. It seemed very devoid of emotion, and that was why didn't speak to me. I may go back and re-read it, though, just to see if my feelings on it change because of Claire.

Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I haven't read The Memory Keeper's Daughter so I count myself in good company if you haven't read this one, either! I'd like to pick this one up at some point simply because of the fact that it is very appealing to me to solve mysterious family matters through letters. I love that idea.

Kathleen said...

I did read The Memory Keeper's Daughter. I liked it but didn't love it. This book kind of sounds the same to me...it's a like not a love!

Trisha said...

I remember enjoying The Memory Keeper's Daughter, but danged if I remember much else about it...

Jenners said...

I wasn't a huge fan of The Memory Keeper's Daughter. For me, it was a book that seemed like it should be better than it was.

I do agree with you about letters ... but every time I try to write one, my hand cramps up.

Jenny said...

I was one of those that did not like The Memory Keeper's Daughter... so I'm not sure that I'd like this one either. =/

I hate when I'm distracted and can't get into a book!

Darlene said...

I've heard such mixed reviews on this novel of hers. I loved her first one so I'm sure I'll eventually read this one too. I'm just not in a huge hurry.

Alice Teh said...

I have read The Memory Keeper's Daughter and liked it. I'm not sure I'd be reading this, though.

Iliana said...

Well, this one does have some of the elements that I really like - the family feuds, old letters, mystery, that sort of thing. I enjoyed her debut novel and hope to pick this one up one of these days!

Beth F said...

I plan on reading this one regardless. And I, too, missed Memory Keeper's Daughter (I own it! Does that count for something?). Hope I have an easier time with this than you did.