Jim's Reviews > The Lake of Dreams

The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards
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's review
May 27, 11

bookshelves: fiction, mysteries
Read in May, 2011

When I sit down with a new book and think for a moment of the characters and settings and plots that I hope to soon encounter, I wonder how close the book will be to some unquantifiable ideal that I have. And after two DNFs in a row, I was beginning to worry. And then I cracked open this one, and this is the sort of book that I wish every book could be. The characters are terrific and have just enough in the way of flaws, but the novel is not entirely character-driven; there is actually a decent story to follow, as well. On the settings front, the scenes are painted well and the book reminds me once again of how much I want to visit the Finger Lakes region of the country someday. And not just because of nearby Cooperstown. As for the narrative, the story lines are excellent, but the book is not entirely plot-driven, either; the characters are multidimensional and nicely developed, as well.

As for the plot threads themselves, there's the story of the protagonist (and the voice of the novel) and her personal and professional restlessness as she nears 30. (This was a weak point for me, as I consider 30 to be too young for a mid-life crisis of sorts, but Edwards is more or less able to get away with it here.) Then there's the question of what really led to her father's death on a still lake in the early morning hours over a decade earlier. And there's the question of how her various findings will affect her mother and her brother and those around them and those with ties to them in the small town. And there's a fair amount of Wolfe's you-can't-go-home-again theme here, as well. Lastly, there's the story of her relatives from generations past, both before and after they arrived on these shores. In retrospect, I had issues with some of the dumb things that the protagonist did along the way, but the only major negative on the plotting front was when the story almost went off the rails near the end. Not only off the rails, but it had me worrying that it was going to crash and burn in flames, in both a figurative and a literal sense. Fortunately, things were righted in short order and the subsequent resolution was as good as the rest of the book. But if Edwards was talked *off* of that path by someone, then she owes that person a nice dinner; and if she was talked *onto* it, then she needs to kick that person in the shins really, really hard.

Beyond that, I skipped Edwards's debut outing in spite of a lot of praise for her writing, as the topic simply didn't appeal to me and, admittedly, I steer clear of what I perceive to be "chick lit" with as much fervor as many women have for their avoidance of some of the admittedly brainless, testosterone-driven thrillers that I enjoy. The topic of this one, on the other hand, appealed to me quite a bit on a number of levels, and I was glad to see that the praise for her writing is legitimate--and then some.
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Carolyn Sounds terrific! I just requested it (and the chick lit one too) from the library.


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