Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Lake of Dreams - Kim Edwards

I think I am one of the few people who hasn't read The Memory Keeper's Daughter - Kim Edward's New York Times bestselling first novel. So I jumped at the chance to read her latest book - The Lake of Dreams. Now I know why everyone kept recommending her!

Lucy Jarrett lives in Japan with her boyfriend Yoshi. She is between jobs and somewhat uncertain of what the future holds for her. When an email from her brother arrives, mentioning that her widowed mother has been slightly injured in a fall, Lucy decides to go home for a visit. The visit stirs up memories of her father's death. Nothing is as it was, her mother and her brother Blake are moving on with their lives.

"All these years I'd taken such comfort in my wandering life, but really I'd been as anchored to the night my father died as Blake had been, circling it from afar, still caught within its gravity. Now Blake was moving on, and my mother was, too; the feeling I'd been fighting all day, the feeling of being adrift by myself in a vast dark space, engulfed me for a moment."

In the cupola of the family home, Lucy discovers a cache of items that suggest the family history as she knows it, isn't quite the whole story. As Lucy pursues the story behind the items, history reaches forward to change the course of the present.

The characters were especially well drawn, each entirely believable. The emotions and situations were convincing and rang true - Lucy's exploration of her feelings with an old flame, her mother's burgeoning relationship with a new flame and more. It was the exploration of the past that enthralled me though. I found myself flipping ahead, looking for the italicized type that indicated a letter from the past. These letters were especially poignant - the emotions and circumstances that surround them were both addicting and heart rending. 

The story flows seamlessly, blending the past and present together with vibrant details. The descriptions of glass blowing are vivid and sensual. The use of unsettled weather to mirror Lucy's emotional state is particularly effective. The settings are lushly depicted.

Edwards has crafted an incredibly rich, multi layered story, with threads reaching from one storyline to the next, finally joining them together in a satisfying conclusion.

"Whatever its beginning, the story had unfolded, one event leading to the next, beauty and loss surfacing in every generation, until I sat here, a hundred years away from the comet, woven into the story in ways no one could ever have imagined."

A satisfying read - definitely recommended. Read an excerpt of The Lake of Dreams.


bermudaonion said...

I've been really excited about this book because I loved The Memory Keeper's Daughter. I'm glad to see it's so good.

Anonymous said...

I've been excited about a new book by Kim Edwards too. I enjoyed THE MEMORY KEEPER'S DAUGHTER. Good to know that it worked well for you.