Title: Lost Lake
Author: Sarah Addison Allen
No. of Pages: 304
Origins: St. Martin’s Press; She Reads Book Club
Release Date: 21 January 2014
Bottom Line: A charming story
“The first time Eby Pim saw Lost Lake, it was on a picture postcard. Just an old photo and a few words on a small square of heavy stock, but when she saw it, she knew she was seeing her future.
That was half a life ago. Now Lost Lake is about to slip into Eby’s past. Her husband George is long passed. Most of her demanding extended family are gone. All that’s left is a once-charming collection of lakeside cabins succumbing to the Southern Georgia heat and damp, and an assortment of faithful misfits drawn back to Lost Lake year after year by their own unspoken dreams and desires.
It’s a lot, but not enough to keep Eby from relinquishing Lost Lake to a developer with cash in hand, and calling this her final summer at the lake. Until one last chance at family knocks on her door.
Lost Lake is where Kate Pheris spent her last best summer at the age of twelve, before she learned of loneliness, and heartbreak, and loss. Now she’s all too familiar with those things, but she knows about hope too, thanks to her resilient daughter Devin, and her own willingness to start moving forward. Perhaps at Lost Lake her little girl can cling to her own childhood for just a little longer… and maybe Kate herself can rediscover something that slipped through her fingers so long ago.
One after another, people find their way to Lost Lake, looking for something that they weren’t sure they needed in the first place: love, closure, a second chance, peace, a mystery solved, a heart mended. Can they find what they need before it’s too late?”
Thoughts: Lost Lake is the type of novel that soothes the soul. It is neither flashy nor suspenseful, neither sexy nor snarky. It is an old-fashioned story, in which the characters are ordinary, the setting even more so, and the story as simple as it gets, It meanders much as one does while floating on a slow-moving river during a hot summer day. There is a planned trajectory to the plot, but Ms. Allen takes her time getting there. In this world of short attention spans and even shorter patience levels, Lost Lake is refreshing for ignoring the quick attention grab and focusing on telling a good story.
While the story is old-fashioned, Ms. Allen uses hints of magic to add hints of the extraordinary to her story. In fact, the hints are so subtle that one could easily explain them away as perfectly normal situations. It is all in the eye of the reader, and that is one of the more fascinating aspects of the story. The story may be simple but deceptively so depending on a reader’s interpretation.
There are two main themes within the story that are quite attractive given the proliferation of social media and Internet connectivity with the world. The main theme is around loneliness. While smartphones and the Internet are not mentioned at all within the novel, its modern-day setting establishes its usage. This idea of everyone being lonely raises many a question given the popularity of online interaction. Are we hiding our loneliness by connecting via the Internet? Are we using social media to compensate for our loneliness or excuse ourselves from making lasting real-life connections that could assuage our loneliness? Is it something more profound and/or more simple than that? For, the characters within Lost Lake only find happiness when they reach out and connect to each other, something almost impossible to do via an online setting.
The other main idea is the idea of being a misfit. Lost Lake is a respite for misfits, where they can go to relax, be themselves, and be accepted for their eccentricities. As with the idea of loneliness, this theme raises questions about whether anyone ever considers himself normal, or we do all consider ourselves to be misfits just trying to find a place in “normal” society. Is there really a normal anything? The profundity of these questions raised throughout the novel are surprising because the story of Lost Lake is quite basic with its story of grief, love, loss, friendship, and family.
Lost Lake is the type of novel to read when one has a little time to enjoy its slow build and slow finish, the mystical elements, and most importantly, its Southern charm. It deserves a careful read, but one will not mind because it is just so cute and more importantly, so relaxing. Devin and her unconscious lessons of individuality are perfect reminders to celebrate one’s own misfit nature, and the inevitable happy ending proves that normal is boring. Lost Lake is a charming story with adorable characters that befit its small-town setting.