To escape her domineering mother-in-law, Kate does something impulsive. She drives south with her daughter and all their possessions toward Lost Lake, a resort she’d visited as a young girl. Lost Lake is fading now, and though still owned by her Aunt Eby, it’s looking like won’t be for long. Once there, Kate finds the boy she’d almost-kissed is a successful man in the community, and the place she’d really longed for is with a family she didn’t expect.
Like most of Allen’s other books, there are several supporting plots and an extended accompanying cast filled with her trademark magical realism: Kate’s daughter, Devin, the spritely-girl character whose prescience works wonders, a mute woman Aunt Eby once rescued who’s haunted (literally) by a lost lover, an elderly woman obsessed with her vampish charm bracelet, two charming gentlemen too befuddled by their own brokenness to see the romantic opportunities in front of them, and a sweetly possessed alligator-boy.
And yes, all the strands weave together again in surprising ways near the end of the story.
But for some reason, the story didn’t work for me. I wanted it to, desperately. I got the book as a part of GoodReads’s FIRST READS program–my first-ever ARC. I tweeted a picture of it when it arrived, snuggled down under the covers and started reading right away.
I was glad I did–don’t get me wrong. I LIKED the book. But I just didn’t LOVE it the way I loved GARDEN SPELLS or THE GIRL WHO CHASED THE MOON, not with that kind of love that has me reading all night and buying copies of the book to spread around like a book-bearing Johnny Appleseed.
An earlier reviewer mentioned that there was an cast of melancholy over this book that had been missing in her earlier work, and I think that’s true. It may be a case of mis-matched expectations. I had shelved it as a “charmer” and “light reading” and “romance,” but those were unmet expectations.
There is charm of a sort, and a touch of romance, but this book is something new, something slightly more literary, slightly more historical, slightly more foreign for me as a reader (and re-reader) of Allen’s canon.