two-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
51-Mar-Apr-2011
By: 
Kim Edwards
user_rating: 
0

A-The Lake of DreamsKim Edwards, who teaches writing at the University of Kentucky, is the author of the bestselling novel The Memory Keeper's Daughter (2005), which seemed to be everywhere we looked a few years ago, and the short story collection The Secrets of a Fire King (1997).

The Story: Thirty-year-old Lucy Jarrett is living in Tokyo with her boyfriend Yoshi when she learns that her mother has been injured in an accident. She returns to her hometown in upstate New York, a once affluent community known as the Lake of Dreams. But much has changed since Lucy left town ten years ago after her father's tragic death. Her mother wants to sell their home, and Lucy's feelings for an old boyfriend raise questions about her future with Yoshi. When Lucy stumbles upon a collection of papers revealing the existence of Rose Jarrett, an ancestor and suffragette who was stricken from the family records, she learns some startling truths about her family's history.
Viking. 400 pages. $26.95. ISBN: 9780670022175

Minneapolis Star Tribune 4 of 5 Stars
"Edwards' prose is precise and vivid throughout and at times her descriptions positively soar. Does The Lake of Dreams measure up to The Memory Keeper's Daughter? No. But judged on its own merits, it is an excellent novel." Katherine Bailey

New Zealand Herald 4 of 5 Stars
"[A] slightly whimsical, captivating tale with a satisfying ending."

New York Jrnl of Books 3 of 5 Stars
"Lucy's world shifts and changes a great deal, but the Jarrett family tree going back four generations helps the reader keep the many characters straight. An enjoyable read." JoAn Watson Martin

Chicago Sun-Times 2 of 5 Stars
"Lucy is a well-drawn character, but her motives are not always convincing. ... The more serious problem here is that Edwards crams too much material into a narrative that creaks from the strain." Wendy Smith

Newsday 1.5 of 5 Stars
"Edwards' new novel has none of the intense dramatic tension of the first--there are secrets, but we hardly care about them. Even the people in the book don't care." name="anchor-105-anchor" /> Marion Winik

Oregonian 1.5 of 5 Stars
"The characters are bogged down by their unoriginality: the shady uncle; the rude, spoiled cousin; the testy brother; the doting romantic partners. Even Lucy is hard to like." Peggy McMullen

Critical Summary

Critics had conflicting opinions about Edwards's highly anticipated second novel. Several found Lake of Dreams to be an enjoyable read, though even they acknowledged a preference for The Memory Keeper's Daughter. Others found the book overwhelmed with flaws, describing it as implausible, overblown, contrived, and filled "convenient coincidences" (Chicago Sun-Times). Unlikable stock characters were also a sore point. The Minneapolis Star Tribune called Lake of Dreams an "excellent novel" when judged on its own terms, but fans of Edwards's first book may find themselves disappointed by this latest offering.