Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Friday, 6 January 2012

The Lake of Dreams - Kim Edwards

Lucy Jarrett has been living overseas for several years, most recently in Japan with her partner Yoshi. She is unsettled, looking for direction in her life. On hearing of her mother’s minor accident, she returns home to The Lake of Dreams, where her thoughts turn back to her father’s mysterious death several years ago. Whilst wondering around the large old family home one night unable to sleep, she discovers items that are actually family heirlooms and papers relating to suffragettes, which all give clues to a whole unknown past that goes back several generations.

This is a multi-layered story, wherein Lucy slowly uncovers so many secrets from the past, and some painful truths are revealed too. As the first-person narrator, it is Lucy’s perspective on events that dominates the novel. She is determined, sometimes perhaps even a little pushy, in following through the story to try and uncover everything she can, once she has started.

The past she discovers opens up a whole range of topics within the novel relating to the early days of women’s suffrage, beautiful stained glass windows in a chapel that is on ancient sacred land now threatened by developers, and most importantly of all for Lucy, the discoveries about the lives of relatives she didn’t know existed. Additionally, Lucy encounters her lost love from her schooldays, Keegan, and has to face up to her feelings and decide where her future lies.

Reading the novel, it’s amazing how few rights women had, and how it’s really not that long ago that this was the situation. Back in 1916, Lucy’s relative Rose, who is the key character for Lucy in finding out how all the different strands of history are tied together, is arrested, because she ‘handed out booklets with facts about the body’ to other women. Lucy is shocked and realises that ‘the rights I took for granted seemed suddenly very new, measured against the centuries.’ Lucy is inspired by the sacrifices Rose made, and by the stand she took back then, and how she stood by what she believed in even when it caused turmoil in her own life.

I think this story is strongest when it deals with the discovery of Rose’s letters, the unearthing of the history regarding her life, and the discoveries as to how Rose came to be the model for the stained glass windows. This strand of the novel is weaved well with the story in the present day, of the unrest between the remaining family members; between Lucy and her brother Blake, and their Uncle Art, and the future of the family lock business. There is a lot of history just between them, with fragile relationships and secrets that emerge. The sense of place is also strong, and the beautiful descriptions really do conjure up the atmosphere. There is a lovely thread running through the novel with regard to the pattern that is identified on one of the heirloom’s, and then on the stained glass windows, and which is reproduced on the heading of each chapter in the novel (I read the UK hardback edition).

A read that requires you to take time to digest it all, with many strands to the story, and a main character who doesn’t give up!


Published in the UK by Viking and available to buy now.


  1. Great review as always Lindsay, but I think I'll be sitting this one out. The story doesn't capture me as The Memory Keeper's Daughter did. Thanks for sharing anyway! :)

  2. Thanks so much Toni. Whilst I liked aspects of this novel, it didn't have the 'page turner' quality of The Memory Keeper's Daughter.

  3. I swear Lindsay, you and I are kindred spirits when it comes to our reading tastes! The Memory Keeper's Daughter is one of my faves and this book has been on my to-be-read list for ages! I loved your review.

    Megan @ Storybook Love Affair


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