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Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

It took me a while until I found another book to read.  I actually finished Lost Lake back in April and am only now getting around to the posting the review.  Then it took a while until I found another book.  Lately it seems like it's difficult to find a book that sticks.  I started one by Susanna Kearsley and got half way through it and then I abandoned it for the book I'm currently reading.  I knew this was not the first book by Sarah Addison Allen that I'd read, but apparently I didn't review any of them on the blog.  I just did a search and nothing came up and then I went back through the archive to read the titles for all the posts.  The Girl Who Chased The Moon and The Peach Keeper were the other two Allen novels I've read, and I do recommend them.  If they're here on the blog, I can't find them.  Allen's stories usually have a touch of fantastical magic about them, and this novel is no different.  And the mother-in-law's a real piece of work so I was glad when she disappeared for the most part from the story until she popped back in again just long enough for Kate to tell her what's what (not to spoil anything, but it had to happen).

Kate comes back again after a year of going through the motions in the wake of her young husband's sudden death.  She realizes that the decisions she's made in that year--essentially handing over the reins of control of both her life and her beloved, eccentric, daughter Devin's life to her domineering, controlling, and wealthy mother-in-law.  A woman who's remained mostly distant and estranged from Kate's husband and their family during Kate's marriage, Cricket, the mother-in-law (what kind of a name is that anyway for a woman of her generation?) is suffocating, overly concerned with appearances and a very influential power broker in Atlanta.  Cricket's sold her son's business and Kate's house at tidy profits, enrolled Devin in a private school that is a very ill fitted for the little girl, and taken over moving mother and daughter into her own large mansion.  But Kate has belatedly realized she has to stay present and take back control of her life and live it to make herself and her daughter happy.

At the behest of a newly discovered 15 year old postcard  from her beloved great-aunt Eby, Kate packs up herself and her daughter and makes an impromptu sojourn to Lost Lake.  Site of the last best summer of Kate's childhood, Lost Lake is the once thriving summer cabin retreat business Eby operates and having just decided to sell, this is also the last summer for Lost Lake.  Kate decides to stay on indefinitely during the summer to help her aunt inventory and pack up the many treasures scattered throughout the rundown resort.

While staying at Lost Lake, Kate reconnects with the boy with whom she spent that summer roaming the surrounding woods and swimming in the lake. Wes is a man who has made the adjacent town his home, both reluctant and unable to move on in the wake of the tragedy that claimed the life of his beloved brother so many years ago.  Also staying on at the lake for one final summer is a tiny assortment of equally eccentric, outcast characters who have spent myriad past summers at the lake with Eby, and have built long lasting and deep bonds of friendship with each other.

Many of the characters have been scarred by past tragedies and challenging circumstances that in various ways they've allowed to shape and circumscribe their lives.  This is a summer of reluctant change for them all as they prepare to say goodbye to the one place in which they have all felt at home, unconditionally accepted and at respite from a world that looks unfavorably upon their differences, and fails to understand their eccentricities.  Each one searches for a path forward into the future.  In these characters Kate and Devin will find a second family, but can they find a way to talk Eby out of selling out or is too late to salvage Lost Lake?

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie


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