Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Lake People” as Want to Read:
Lake People
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Lake People

2.95  ·  Rating details ·  286 Ratings  ·  82 Reviews
A haunting, luminous debut novel set in a small New Hampshire town: the story of the crisscrossing of lives, within and without family, and of one woman, given up for adoption as a baby, searching for the truth about her life.

As an infant, Alice Thorton was discovered in Kettleborough, New Hampshire, in a boathouse by the lake; adopted by a young, childless couple; raised
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published February 19th 2013 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2013)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Lake People, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Lake People

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Jan 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
My husband and I lived for three glorious years in New Hampshire. We spent our weekends driving throughout the beautiful state and marveling at its splendor. Being outsiders, we sometimes laughed as we passed a beautiful mansion in the woods only to discover that the next residence was a trailer with a micro bus welded to the side for an extra room. Just like New Hampshire is full idiosyncratic features, Lake People by Abi Maxwell is an unusual, delightful and peculiar novel.

Maxwell writes a stu
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It has been a long time since I have read a novel by a new author whose book moved me as much as Abi Maxwell's Lake People. The only reason I read it is because we are reading together in a bookstore next month. (This is troubling because I would have needed to have gone to a well stocked bookstore or library and browsed, and who knows if I would have took it home to read?) It is a very, very good book. It seems every word is weighed, considered, and selected to tell a story of multiple generati ...more
Lolly K Dandeneau
Sep 24, 2012 rated it liked it
This was a strange book through and through. Parts engaged me deeply, other bits and I floated off. I liked it well enough. It is certainly different. It was broken in a way too because of the stories within the story... I am still absorbing this one. I particularly liked the aunt that floated in the lake, which I don't want to write of in detail because it would gave away her story.
Travis Fortney
Jun 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
My review from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography, which you can find here:


Growing up in the Midwest (in Medina, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland), I always held an exaggerated view of life on the East Coast. Which means I considered all of New England to be a a wide-lawned suburb of New York City, full of liberal-mided folks who descended from rich landowners that came over on the Mayflower. I could go on describing this dream New England, but you probably get
Mar 22, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: lit-fic, not-for-me
This book really failed to capture my interest. If it was any longer than its brief 210 pages, I would not have finished it. It was just dull and the chapters were so disconnected from each other that the book never had a smooth flow or rhythm to it. Perhaps if the chapters were richer in detail they could stand on their own as short stories, but as they were, each one felt more like a muted vignette. Though the setting played perhaps the largest role in the “novel” none of the chapters felt ful ...more
Devin Engle
Jul 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Complicated yet interesting! This is a book that will take me some time to process. The storyline requires some patience because it follows multiple generations and skips around a bit, but it does so for good reason. Some parts left me feeling confused, and yet others seemed to have great, even if painful, insight into human behavior. If I were more spiritual and "believing" I think I would have enjoyed the book even more. I think I need to read tis book again to fully grasp the weight of it bec ...more
Feb 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this little surprise of a book. Read the premise and thought it sounded interesting (and won a copy on here, thank you Knopf!) but I didn't realize how much I'd fall in love with this place. There's a rotating cast of characters that, while hard to keep straight at times, are all interconnected in a way only a small town can do. The lake is the main character though, and her influence permeates the entire novel and seeps into every character's story. Maxwell's writing is lyrical and some ...more
Kerstin Ahlgren
Dec 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Lake People captures many aspects of New Hampshire perfectly for me - the undercurrent of class in friendships and interactions, the collective memory of a mourning small town, the magical thinking that comes with spending more time in nature than with other people, and the secrets that divide New England families.

Add to that beautiful writing, intriguing characters, and mysteries that you want resolved, and you have one of my favorite books ever.
Jun 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
I'm calling it. I'm almost 1/2 way through and I just can't bring myself to finish. I kept going back and forth with this book. Was it good/interesting weird, or was it just wtf weird? Well, it's why-the-face weird. The writing itself was good and I would probably read something else by this author.
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book explored characters in a subtle way, shone a light on an environment with beautiful details and was a haunting story. Loved it.
Kimberly Tennyson
May 06, 2017 rated it did not like it
the book was ok. very choppy and scattered.
May 12, 2013 rated it liked it
The Lake People
Abi Maxwell

My "in a nutshell" summary...

Lots of stories, sadness and mystery surround a family and a found baby.

My thoughts after reading this book...

A family has an attachment and lots of mystical feelings about this lake that has provided them with way too much sorrow. There are all of these beliefs that people get drawn to and swallowed up by this lake...sometimes even when they don't want to...even when they take the men who had a canoe and still drowned.
Margo Littell
Mar 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Alice Thornton’s family history is filled with tormented women and a dark, inexplicable connection to the lake around desolate Bear Island in New Hampshire. Alice, abandoned at birth and adopted by a couple with troubles of their own, grows up unaware of her roots. Throughout her life, however, she never loses her sense of loss, and searching; she unwisely chooses one inappropriate lover after another, never quite finding what she hopes to. Only when Alice finally begins to discover the pieces o ...more
Cheryl Lassiter
Jun 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Update: So it finally hits me as to what is disturbing and also fascinating about this book - the author takes no stand, makes no moral judgments, nor does she let any of her characters. This happened; that happened, and no more; almost clinical, with the odd sensation of going under anesthesia.

The Alice-Simon dynamic was too convenient and fanciful for my tastes. Simon was required to bring a happy ending and not much more that I could see. If Simon just lived across the lake in Kettleborough,
Jan 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
The author, Abi Maxwell, was born and raised in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. She is currently working as an assistant librarian at the Gilford Public Library. This is her first book.

Ms. Maxwell's work is most imaginative, a haunting novel expanding decades in a small town along the shore of Lake Winnepesaukee. The protagonist, Alice Thornton, was discovered in a boathouse as a baby and adopted by a childless couple. She was raised with no knowledge of where she came from or the women in he
Jan 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, 2017-library
This is the story of a Swedish family that inhabits Bear Island, an isolated chunk of land in the middle of a huge lake. Of course, during the winters, it's a desolate and desperate place. This family has a strange pull to that lake and for many of them, that pull spelled their deaths. The main storyline is around Alice, a young woman who is a part of the bloodline of the people of Bear Island, but she has no idea because she was adopted as an infant. And no matter where she goes in New Hampshir ...more
Sep 29, 2013 rated it liked it
I forgot to mention I'd started this one. Last time we went to the library Ella wanted to choose a couple of books for me, as I'd done the same for her on our previous visit and she'd really enjoyed them.

Perhaps I was distracted when I read this book, but I found it confusing. The names and dates didn't stick with me so I found myself having to flick back in the early part of the book to understand who I was reading.

I felt that many characters were under developed, which frustrated me because t
Jan 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
There were parts of this book that really captivated me and other sections I found myself a little bored. I literally just finished it, so I may have to come back and edit this later, but I am inclined to say there were too many characters. Then I lament that perhaps some of the characters just showed up at strange intervals and seemed like they were completely new to the story, but then it was revealed that they were intertwined in some way...maybe there was a little too much coincidence for me ...more
Popzara Press
Mar 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Lake People is a decent debut from a writer I hope we see more from, but let’s hope Abi Maxwell is able to exercise restraint in future efforts and find the elemental core in her stories beforehand. As it stands, her debut often feels like a writing exercise in fatalism, with one event trying its best to out-gloom the next. It’s telling that the further we get to the end, the stronger and more precise the events become, as if Maxwell began to realize where the real strengths of the story lay. Th ...more
Apr 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
I am drawn to stories that have an element of magic to them-- legends that are a bit fantastic, or myths that play out in real life. LAKE PEOPLE certainly promised and delivered in this way.

I wasn't sure at first about Abi Maxwell's choice to weave in and out of completely different points of view throughout the story. I wasn't certain who was telling the story much of the time. But I came to accept that this is how legends are passed down, and so this was a fitting way to have the story told to
Feb 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013-reads
At times this book was enchanting and at times I felt a bit weird. The whole lake people and the connection was a bit strange for myself. I would think just because she was placed there, I don't really know if it would be a connection so much as a particular person.

Anyway, that being said I enjoyed each character and I thought everything was splendidly drawn out so that you had a clear picture of what was happening, who was who and where we were going.

I think one of the most imaginative parts f
Aug 12, 2016 rated it did not like it
Odd little book. It's an attempt to be a mythical or allegorical tale, but the shifts in voice and tense are distracting, making for a confusing story. It's meant to hint at a mystery, but is a bit annoying to the reader. This should be read in one sitting, but I'd get tired of the shifts and put it down. There are some strong female characters - Eleonora, Signe and young Sophie - and a sweet boy, Malcolm, but they just were sort of dropped at a point and the second half of the short novel deter ...more
May 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
Kind of hard to follow. Choppy, short, uninteresting sentences. Wish she would have put the story in chronological order instead of jumping all over the place. Author doesn't use enough descriptive words, so the reader doesn't get a very clear picture of the setting. The story jumps around too much. By the time it tried to tie it together, I'd forgotten who the afore mentioned characters were. Interesting story idea and not bad for a first novel, though. I just wish there would have been more de ...more
Mar 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this debut novel a lot. I thought the author did a good job introducing the main characters early on in the story, so therefore, I had no trouble following the chapters. The writing was descriptive and I could easily visualize the lake, the island and many other scenes.

I felt the writing was lyrical in parts, thoughtful and overall, a beautiful story about discovery and self-identity, with a touch of mystical and magical. It you're looking for a very good literary novel with a satisfyi
Apr 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Impressive debut, IMHO. Maxwell manages to use a spare, almost taciturn, style to produce an image-rich world. Its landscapes are grand, and sometimes forbidding. Its characters are sometimes like people we have met, sometimes like people we have only heard about, but always somehow "real." Through them, she leads us to some very elemental psychological places. The only reason I didn't give this one five stars was that at the end I felt like she had stopped too soon.
Bobbie N
Feb 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Alice Thompson, abandoned as a baby and adopted by a young childless couple, was raised with no knowledge of the women who came before her or the lake that they called home, yet she feels called to that lake even as she longs to know who she really is. Haunting and beautiful, deeply moving. (My favorite quote: “…I wonder just how many people know my story, and how it is possible that in all these years, no one has ever thought to tell it to me.”)
Patricia Ledoux
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book probably would not hold my interest except that I am from NH and this is "my lake." I have several NH-based books on my "to-read" list. Maybe I am a little homesick. Summer in Florida is way different from summer in NH! This book is a little slow moving, but it has it's interesting aspects. Kind of a dark story and I was hoping for something a little more light-hearted right now. I will plow through because I am hooked now!
Mar 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Lake People was entertaining and I didn't feel like I wanted to give up on the story at any time. It just somehow missed the mark. It is the type of story where you are meant to read between the lines and I understood the story the author was trying to tell, it just felt like it needed a little something more. At any rate I believe this was the author's first book and were she to write another in the future I would read it.
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Every once in a while, I discover a book that I just can't put down. This was one of them. Most of the story takes place in the lakes region of New Hampshire. I detected shades of Carolyn Chute and Elizabeth Strout in the characters and setting of this book. This is the debut book for this young New Hampshire author. I can't wait for her next book!
Aug 01, 2013 rated it did not like it
I wanted to like this book so much more than I did. I kept reading hoping to find something wonderful hidden on the next page. Unfortunately, I never found myself connected or really caring about the characters.
The only connections I felt were to the places described. But even those weren't enough to make this book the reading experience I wanted it to be.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Red Thread
  • See Now Then
  • Hold Me Tight
  • Traveling Sprinkler
  • Roost
  • Pale Horses (Jade de Jong, #4)
  • The Tender Mercy of Roses
  • The Outer Banks House
  • Every Visible Thing
  • The Doctor's Wife
  • Investigating the Natural World of Chemistry with Kids: Experiments, Writing, and Drawing Activities for Learning Science
  • The Fifty-First State
  • The Roving Tree
  • On Sal Mal Lane
  • Scissors
  • High
  • Moon Over Edisto
  • A Fatal Likeness (Charles Maddox #3)

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“Alice’s chest. But in a moment” 0 likes
More quotes…