The Lake Of Dreams by Kim Edwards
Reviewer: Sheri de Grom
The novel is powerful. It’s more than just a story, more than a narrative of events arranged in time-sequence with the emphasis falling on causality. It’s a story with a mystery at its core, but it’s not a mystery.
Lucy Jarrett lives in Japan with her boyfriend, Yoshi. Her mother has been hurt in an auto accident and although it’s not serious, Lucy thinks about returning home to the Lake of Dreams in upstate New York.
Lucy’s presently unemployed and, with Yoshi’s encouragement, decides to go home where he’ll join her later. She’s not sure how she feels about Yoshi and still has unresolved emotional issues about her father’s tragic drowning a decade ago.
Lucy’s brother, Blake, picks her up at the airport. He warns her much has changed since she was last home: her teen romance, Keegan, is back in town with a successful glass studio. Keegan employs several people in his studio both as artists and staff in his sales room. He’s become well-known for both his blown glass and his skill in restoration and preservation of stained glass. Additionally, the weapons depot, the largest employer in town, has closed and has crushed the economy. Everyone is conniving for ways to use the environmentally sensitive land for their own personal gain.
Lucy isn’t ready to learn her mother has entered into a romantic relationship when she’s still dealing with the grief, anger, and even guilt of her father’s death. She’s never told anyone about the last time she saw her dad before he left to go fishing, primarily because she thinks she could have saved his life had she behaved differently.
Lucy notes the differences Blake told her about. Especially concerning her mother. . . .Pg51[She was only in her early fifties, attractive, vibrant; there was no reason she shouldn’t move on with her life. Maybe, while I was gone, she already had. This was a good thing, at least in theory. So why did it leave me feeling so unsettled? First Blake with a baby on the way, then my mother with a budding romance—it makes me feel left behind, as if, despite my constant travels, I’d really been standing in place.]. . .
Lucy and Yoshi talk frequently but their telephone calls are often unsatisfactory and Lucy’s uneasiness about them as a couple grows. Keegan, her teen romance, slips into the gap, using all his charms to entice Lucy back.
. . .Pg71[I hadn’t expected to be so moved by seeing Keegan again. Maybe it was simply that things had ended so abruptly between us, with no sense of closure or any kindness on my part, but all old stirrings from those last wild days of spring were present again, forceful and unsettling.]. . .
Lucy becomes obsessed with unlocking the mystery of her family’s patriarch, her great-grandfather Joseph Jarrett and the sister no one knew about. The history of the hidden ancestor teaches Lucy of courage, heartache, and love. Why don’t the other members of her family want her to contact the surviving relatives of the ancestor?
Lucy is tireless in her search for her ancestor’s identity and why history happened as it did. Her search leads her to question what might have happened if she hadn’t left the Lake of Dreams. . . .Pg205[I had to see if it might have happened this way—though I couldn’t tell if it was really desire in the present or left over from the unfinished past. Not just the past with Keegan, and a desire to know what might have happened between us if I stayed, but the more uncomfortable past where I kept on leaving—countries, jobs, and people I loved. I kicked at the gravel and walked to the back of Dream Master instead.]. . .
Kim Edwards masterfully allows family secrets to drive The Lake Of Dreams, a puzzle that goes back generations and traces its roots to a collection of intertwined circumstances. Among them are the 1910 appearance of Halley’s comet, the suffragette movement in upstate New York, with glassworks taking the lead, both workaday glass and stained glass in the tradition of Tiffany and John La Farge.
The Lake Of Dreams is masterfully written and Kim Edwards’ lyrical descriptions place the reader at the heart of every scene. This novel aches to be discussed or treasured as a weekend read.
I recommend this book without reservation to both book clubs and individuals alike.