Print Edition: June 18, 2014
Sarah Addison Allen has always been able to create a world readers long to throw themselves into, and her newest novel Lost Lake is no exception.
Allen has continuously provided readers with stories about realistic characters dealing with relatable problems. She also always subtly includes an extra element that makes her novels impossible to put down: magic. Things that can’t be possible are, instead, matters of fact. There are no outlandish spells or talk of witches and wizards, just a light layer of wonder that gives readers hope that there is more mystery in our world than they originally thought.
Before getting to Lost Lake, I should mention Allen’s short story prequel, Waking Kate. This short story allows for readers to make a connection with the main character, Kate. It draws on the heartstrings of anyone who has known the pain and frustration of settling.
Kate has a daughter she adores and a husband she is comfortable with, yet struggles with the life she allowed herself to fall into. Although the short story leads you to believe the following novel will show Kate navigating through the repercussions of leaving her husband, Allen never writes a story readers will expect.
Lost Lake opens with a grieving Kate who has lost the husband she was considering leaving, and with him the life she regretted settling for. Even though she grieves, she is also faced with the newfound knowledge that she can no longer live her life to make other people happy.
Kate feels like she has finally woken up from the long sleep she entered after her husband’s tragic accident, and with this renewed awareness she is guilt-stricken for leaving her daughter in someone else’s care while she was in a year-long daze. This knowledge leads her to escape the hovering care of her mother-in-law, take her daughter, and escape to an unknown destination: Lost Lake.
The scene of Kate’s last family vacation and her last happy childhood memories, Lost Lake was owned and run by her aunt Eby. Years later, Kate can still feel the magical power in this run-down place that surprisingly still feels like a home.
“They looked in the sitting room first, which was filled with dusty chintz furniture and a wall of built-in shelves, sagging with the weight of hundreds of books.” Then, as a welcome, “the scent of something savory curled over and tapped her on the shoulder … several small ham-and-cheese puff pastries and two large slices of plum cake.” Allen is so capable of setting the scene as one of refuge, renewal, and acceptance that, as a reader, I long to go there myself.
Through the perfect scene, Allen introduces readers to a cast of captivating characters whose pasts and intentions for the future are revealed as the story unfolds. Along the storyline, these individuals merge together as a group of misfits who find what they were missing from their own lives in each other and in the comfort of Lost Lake.
Allen has successfully created a story readers will connect with, re-read, and love. This is the perfect end-of-semester book you will want to throw yourself into after months of textbooks and lectures. If you’re ready for an escape from your own life and you’re open to learning some lessons from the lives of others, Lost Lake is the place for you.