The Lake Of Dreams by Kim Edwards

The Lake Of Dreams by Kim Edwards
Penguin Books/2011
  Reviewer: Sheri de Grom

The Lake of Dreams is Kim Edwards’ second novel. After reading her debut novel, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, a few years ago, I expected a magnificent read and Ms. Edwards delivered.

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.

About Sheri de Grom

Retired Fed/JAG, 5 yrs. on Capitol Hill. Former book buyer for B and N. Concerned citizen of military drawdown. Currently involved in mental healthcare reform, health care strategist and actively pursuing legislative change wherein dual retirees are exempt from enrolling in Medicare at their own discretion without losing tertiary healthcare benefits. Monitor and comment on Federal Register proposed legislation involving Mental Health, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Medicare and rural libraries. Licensed OSHA Inspector to include Super Fund sites. Full time caregive to Vietnam era veteran. Conceptualized, investigated possible alternatives, authored, lobbied for, and successfully implemented Title X, Section 1095 (known as the Third Party Collection Program of Federal Insurance).
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14 Responses to The Lake Of Dreams by Kim Edwards

  1. Patty – I’ll be waiting to hear if the novel meets your expectations. I’ve always believed it takes a special woman to embrace the military lifestyle and to do so with grace and joyful anticipation of the adventure around the next corner.

  2. thoughtsfromanamericanwoman says:

    I loved the book The Memory Keepers Daughter – I will be sure to check this one out. Sounds good – great review.

    • Patty – Thanks for stopping by. The Lake of Dreams is a different read – full of history and a young woman’s search for her own idenitity. Lucy elected to leave her home and travel the world, much like those of us that move with the military and government related work, and when we return home, rather to stay or for a temporary time–we look for what may have changed and may long for what we’d hoped to find.

      • thoughtsfromanamericanwoman says:

        Exactly! You have captured how I have felt for years…longing for what I had hoped to find.
        This book sounds like something I would enjoy. I can’t wait to get it.

  3. Mae Clair says:

    I love the idea of family secrets buried generations in the past and the intriguing tie-in of historical elements. You always provide insightful and compelling reviews, Sheri!

  4. Loved the review, Sheri. You always do them so well with your insights and snippets of the book. I never read her first novel though I’m fully aware of its title. Sounds like a good read and I love books that have that “book club” feel.

    • Patti – Both books are perfect for book club discussions. And, both books are so different. Kim Edwards writes deep and what I like to call purpose. There’s no fluff in her writing–every word counts and isn’t that what we all aspire to achieve. Her novels lean toward the literary side of the perspective for me and I think that’s one of the reasons I love them so much. Thank you for stopping in.

  5. Thank you for that perceptive and in-depth review, Sheri. I also enjoyed The Memory Keepers Daughter and look forward to reading this new book.

  6. Sheri, like you I loved The Memory Keepers Daughter. It was a selection of our small book club. I can see that Kim Edwards has done it again. I love her soft touch, and how she so deftly weaves a tapestry of powerful emotions. Thanks for another stellar review … this will go on the short list for our next season’s club reads 🙂

  7. This does indeed sound like a fine read Sheri! Thank you for sharing another thoughtful review! And congratulations to Kim – it’s on my reading list for sure.

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