Sonya's Reviews > Crow Lake

Crow Lake by Mary Lawson
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9192013
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Jul 25, 2012

it was ok
Read in July, 2012

This book has been sitting on my shelf, unread, for many years. I wish I'd left it there. While this is Mary Lawson's first book, my sympathy is limited. She offers no depth to her characters. You develop no bonds with anyone in the book. It has a poorly assembled storyline which is supposed to develop into an emotional epiphany for the flat protagonist "Kate"; however, by the end of the book, Kate has learned almost nothing about herself and, what she has "learned", was not picked up by her after years of emotional self-probing, but laid out plainly for her in speeches by other characters in the story. She refuses to accept that they might be right and, thus, nothing has changed for her by the end of the story, which Lawson sloppily wraps up in the last few pages.

While some of the characters in the book are interesting, none display more than one defining feature. You grow to dislike the protagonist almost immediately and her little sister "Bo" is nothing but a ball of anger intended to make the protagonist appear less annoying. While the storyline had hope, originally, the author is clearly unskilled and unfit to develop it into something meaningful. She repeats herself on obvious points about the protagonist's fear of emotional bonding and she makes a passing reference to the Luke's possible homosexuality in a side comment that is never mentioned again. Too bad, since he's one of the characters I actually liked.

I did appreciate the author's description of life for farming families in early northern Ontario. It made me want to re-read some Robertson Davies. However, if a story of hard life for Canadian pioneering families in the early 1900s is what you seek, pick up some Margaret Laurence or Robertson Davies to read it done well. This book is considered "Canadian Lit" because it takes place in northern Ontario and the author was born here and probably still has her Canadian passport tucked away in a shoebox with some other trinkets from her childhood. Mary Lawson has clearly not been to northern Ontario since she was a child and has no real memory of it except for insects and water; she wrote the book in Britain where she has lived since she was a teenager.
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