This week I read Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen. It's her first book since her battle with breast cancer, and I have been anxiously awaiting its release.
Although this book contains the typical magical realism of Allen's books, this one is a bit more literary and deep with an overall theme of grief and the adverse effects of holding onto it. Because I've been grieving over the loss of our Westie baby Bonnie Blue, it was a tough read for me. The book is also about working through grief which leads to closure and hope.
Eby and her wealthy husband George Pim return from their year-long European honeymoon and give-up their wealth for life at Lost Lake in rural Georgia. Fast-forward fifty years later: George has passed away, and fewer folks are vacationing at Lost Lake. Eby still has her faithful helper Lisette whom Eby and George saved from the freezing Seine River on their honeymoon. Lisette has lived with a manifestation of grief since she was sixteen: careless words over dinner caused her teenage lover to kill himself, and Lisette hasn't eaten dinner since. Lisette doesn't want Eby to sell Lost Lake as it's her home, and neither do a handful of faithful guests. As they prepare a going away party for Eby, the entire nearby town of Suley catches wind of the fête and contribute everything from entertainment to food in the hopes of discouraging Eby from selling. But Eby wants to travel and visit the European cities she visited during her honeymoon.
When Kate Pherris awakens from a year of grieving over her husband's death, she decides on a whim to take her daughter Devin to visit her Aunt Eby at Lost Lake. Kate spent a magical summer at Lost Lake when she was twelve, and she yearns for Devin to experience a magical and carefree summer. Her quick thinking spared Kate and her daughter from an imminent move to her overbearing (and Congressional hopeful) mother-in-law's Atlanta home, not to mention a reality TV crew. Kate reunites with her friend from that long-ago summer, Wes. Wes has suffered a devastating loss of his own and is in desperate need of healing, too.
Please don't be put-off because of the book's theme. The characterizations are so rich and well-developed: from a character whose "charms" land her any married man she wants; an alligator who communicates telepathically; a retired literature teacher who believes in rewriting endings; and a character who recognizes true love and waits patiently for years all contribute to the depth of Allen's prose. Plus, there is plenty of humor readers expect in her books. Lost Lake the place might be shallow, but definitely not the book. This is Allen's best so far…..what a comeback!
I was lucky to receive a set of postcards from Macmillan. Each depicts places mentioned in the book.