By Sarah Addison Allen
Published: January 21, 2014
Kate Pheris has spent the past year drowning in grief in the wake of her husband's death. In the meantime her controlling and elitist mother-in-law Cricket has taken charge of Kate and her young daughter Devin's lives. On the day that she is supposed to move in with Cricket, Kate "wakes up" and realizes that she has given Cricket control for too long. When Devin finds a postcard from Kate's great aunt Eby, Kate remembers her childhood summer at Lost Lake and on a whim she and Devin decide to visit. Eby in the meantime has made the difficult decision to sell Lost Lake as there are only a few remaining loyal vacationers. Now Kate, Devin, Eby, and her guests converge for one last magical summer at Lost Lake.
Like Sarah Addison Allen's other novels, Lost Lake combines the charm of the South with some elements of magic, quirky characters, and a strong sense of place and Lost Lake itself becomes a character. She manages to keep the formula fresh with engaging characters, particularly Eby, Kate, and Devin. The magical elements include an alligator that only Devin seems to see, a ghost in the kitchen and love charms that one of the secondary characters uses to catch her husbands. The novel mostly stays grounded in reality with a focus on the friendships and family relationships of the characters.
Lost Lake delves into grief and loss and how people handle it as well as learning to move on. The women in Kate's family have a history of falling into grief and letting it consume them while Lisette, Eby's mute friend and employee continues to see the ghost of a past love and it keeps her from pursuing a chance at new love. Wes, a childhood friend of Kate's, deals with the grief of losing his father and brother and not having family in his life.
In spite of some darker themes, the novel maintains a light touch and warm tone that invites the reader into the lives of the characters. It may not tread new ground but it is a pleasant book to read in an afternoon. Readers who enjoy Southern fiction and stories of women's friendships with a little romance will find Lost Lake and its characters appealing.
Note: I received an e-ARC for review purposes courtesy of Edelweiss and the publisher