Books: Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

I've read and enjoyed almost all of Sarah Addison Allen's novels (Sugar Queen being the exception; I just couldn't get into it and didn't get very far in reading it). Lost Lake certainly has the usual touches—the magic—but they're not as prominent, and the story itself is somewhat thin. Oh, there are a lot of characters and a lot of backstories, but this Lake is somewhat shallow in terms of exploring any of them. While I enjoyed the book, I missed the depth of character I usually get from Allen.

The story is about Kate and her eight-year-old daughter Devin trying to deal with the death of husband/father (respectively) Matt. It's been a year, and Kate's mother-in-law is running the show, but not to Kate's or Devin's liking. So when they find an old postcard for Lost Lake, owned by Kate's great-aunt Eby, they jump in the car and go.

Eby, her cook Lisette, the summer regulars of Lost Lake (which is a little cabin rental spot on a tucked-away lake) . . . The characters are colorful, but in some way perfunctory, too, or at least their stories are treated as such. And it's very clear where the story will go and how it will end, so that by the time it happens—and the ending is somewhat rushed, too—there are no surprises, and one could almost skim the last few pages because you know you're unlikely to miss anything.

Allen usually deals in familial magic, the curses and blessings of generations, but here she only touches on these things and how Kate and Eby and Devin all possess various abilities, how the women in their family have been cursed with a kind of madness whenever their husbands die.

So it was a good book, but didn't meet my personal standards for Allen's work. I think, though, that this is also the first one since her battle with cancer, so one has to allow for that. Things like that change a writer. Well, things like that change anyone, but in a writer it's like the rings in a tree: You see the before, and you see the ring where the terrible thing happened, and everything after that is a little bit different. It shows in how they write and the kinds of stories they tell. It seeps in.

I liked Lost Lake. I was a little disappointed in it, but it is a good story, and I look forward to more of Allen's work.

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