The Heroine: Lucy Jarrett, an American hydrologist living in Japan with her boyfriend, Yoshi. When her mother is injured in a car accident, Lucy returns home to the Lake of Dreams, a small lakeside town in New York state. Though it has been ten years since her father's death, Lucy can't seem to move past that moment, including her feelings for her first love, Keegan. Lucy's obsession with the past deepens when she discovers papers hidden away that hint to a unknown female relative that was left out of her family history. Stubborn, determined and relentless, Lucy searches through the history of her family, as well as her own personal past, to ultimately find peace with herself and move forward into the future.
The Highs: I loved the element of mystery in The Lake of Dreams. Lucy's quest to discover more about her ancestor Rose was suspenseful and as an amateur history buff, I really loved learning about the woman's suffrage movement in the Great Lakes region. I also liked the way the clues about Rose and her daughter Iris were revealed through stained glass windows, art sketches, written letters and personal accounts, as a variety of sources added interest.
I also enjoyed the family drama in the story. The Jarrett family, both past and present, is filled with estranged siblings, old arguments and ancient family secrets. I was really shocked by the way the family had twisted their history to focus exclusively on their male ancestors, leaving out the females except in passing. Lucy helps remedy this by exposing the history of her female ancestors.
Kim Edward's writing was very enjoyable. I liked her simple style and I also liked her use of imagery, as in the earthquakes in Japan reflecting Lucy's inner state. I especially enjoyed her beautiful descriptions of the lakeside scenery.
The Lows: I personally found Lucy, the protagonist, really irritating. Her refusal to move on with her life, her insistence on sticking her nose into her mother and brother's lives and her possessive attitude to her discoveries about Rose were all very annoying to me. In other words, if she was a real person, I wouldn't like her very much. Therefore, I felt a little distant when reading about her personal journey.
I also felt dissatisfied with the end results of her family's deep, dark secrets. I was disappointed that after all the dramatic build-up about Rose being cut out of the family tree, her actual crime wasn't very exciting and (though I do take into account the time period) I really don't think it warranted being basically abandoned by her family. I don't know whether that emphasizes how cruel her family was, or just makes the whole thing seem very unrealistic.
I also wish they had moved the family tree included in the book to the front of the novel instead of the back because I often got all the names, dates and events confused and tangled in my head.
Final Thoughts: The Lake of Dreams is well-written and interesting, but there were a couple big sticking points that I found quite irritating.
Rating: The Lake of Dreams earns six stained glass windows out of ten.
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