Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen; published 2014 by St. Martin’s Press
Review in a word: Whimsical
Opening line: “Wake up, Kate!”
Kate “wakes up” a year after her husband’s tragic death, snapping out of the grief-induced stupor she’s been in to find that her domineering mother-in-law has sold their house and is trying to force Kate’s whimsical daughter, Devin, to conform to her more traditional ideas of how children should act. Kate’s not sure at first how to fix the situation, but as they are packing up their house, she comes across an old postcard from her great aunt, Eby, who lives at Lost Lake, an old camp that Eby and her late husband George ran. The one summer she spent there was the best of her life, so, on a whim, Kate decides to take Devin there to experience the place’s enchantments.
The story is told from several characters’ points of view. Eby is trying to say goodbye to Lost Lake, which she can’t afford to keep up anymore. Lisette, the mute French cook and Eby’s best friend, is trying to stop Eby from selling the camp. Jack is a shy bachelor hopelessly in love with Lisette. Bulahdeen is a feisty old woman who has been coming to Lost Lake every summer for thirty years. Her best friend, Selma, is a high-maintenance gold digger with seven ex-husbands, looking for her next and last one. Matt is Kate’s childhood friend, whom she hasn’t seen since that one summer years ago.
As the community gathers to thank Eby and say goodbye to Lost Lake, Kate tries to figure out why she and Matt never saw each other again. He is obviously haunted by the memory of his brother, who died tragically in a fire when they were children. Devin is convinced she sees an alligator, who talks to her and helps her unravel the secrets of Lost Lake.
Frankly, I enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected to. From the description, I wasn’t impressed. I was particularly worried about the fact that there were so many narrators, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that Allen was able to weave together a sweet story, with well developed characters. It is nostalgic without dwelling too much on the past. The story celebrates the imagination and simple goodness that children have, and which can still be unearthed in adults. This book has a very happy ending, with Lost Lake’s salvation coming from the most unexpected source.
Recommend? Yes! I’ve already given it to my mom to read.
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