When I heard last year that Sarah Addison Allen had a new book coming out, I immediately added it to my to-read list on Goodreads. It’s been three years since her last book, The Peach Keeper (which honestly, I didn’t love, compared to her other books), and the explanation for the longer than usual time between books is revealed in the Author’s Note — Allen was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011.
Thanks to Netgalley, I received a copy of Lost Lake and immediately jumped in. The wait was more than worth it, and this novel is clearly a nod to Allen’s journey from diagnosis to clear scans.
Newly widowed Kate has just woken up from a year of sleep. Since her husband’s death, she’s let her mother-in-law Cricket take over every aspect of her life – where her daughter Devin goes to school and how she can dress, where Kate and Devin will live. But the thought of moving into overbearing Cricket’s house is just what it takes to rouse Kate out of her numbness, and after finding a decades-old postcard from her great-aunt Eby, heads to Lost Lake.
Eby purchased Lost Lake — a vacation escape in the woods of Georgia — with her now deceased husband George, and has finally decided to sell after a winter without guests and only a handful of bookings for the summer. The upkeep has become too much and Eby just wants to travel. Fighting Eby’s decision to sell is Lisette, a mute French woman who followed Eby and George home from their honeymoon in Paris after they saved her from committing suicide, and three regulars who come for one last summer at Lost Lake.
Kate and Devin are looking for an escape, and they find that and more at Lost Lake. Kate spent two weeks at Lost Lake the summer she was 15, spending all of her time with Wes, a local boy who obviously had a crush on her. Seeing Wes again brings back all of those old feelings and confusion for Kate. Devin, an eccentric child with an affinity for fairy wings and cowboy boots, after seeing an alligator that everyone tells her can’t be there, becomes obsessed with finding something the alligator wants her to find.
I simply loved Lost Lake. The magical realism that Allen is known for is there, but it’s not overt, and at times it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s just in the imaginations of the characters. The imagery and language often made me catch my breath for the beauty and simplicity conveyed in few words. The story is mainly Kate’s, but each of the supporting characters is provided some background that adds to the events as they occur.
Note: While searching for this book at Amazon for the image and links, I found an e-book by Allen called Waking Kate, which I quickly downloaded. While Kate awaits her husband’s return from work, she has a conversation with an elderly neighbor, which leads her to a realization about her marriage. The e-book also has a preview of Lost Lake, so I suggest downloading Waking Kate, and as a bonus, it’s free.
Nancy loves when she can get lost in a good book. She writes about her boys, books and life in Colorado at Life With My Boys and Books.