Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

Lost LakeLost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen
Published by St. Martin’s Press
Review copy provided by She Reads

Kate has spent a year grieving her husband’s death in a dream-like state, leaving the household chores and the raising of her eight-year-old daughter, Devin, to her mother-in-law. When she finally realizes she needs to awake from her grief coma, she takes Devin to Lost Lake, a place where she spent one memorable summer as a child and where her great-aunt Eby owns a set of vacation cottages. Upon arriving in Lost Lake, Kate and Devin are greeted by Eby, who has secrets and demons of her own she’s dealing with, and a cast of regular visitors to Lost Lake who have faithfully come back every summer and created a little family of their own. When they learn of Eby’s plans to sell Lost Lake, they realize this is their last summer together, and decide to make the most of it while at the same time Kate dreams of a way to make Lost Lake her very own.

This is my third experience with Sarah Addison Allen (previously I read The Peach Keeper and The Sugar Queen) and what I’m realizing that I like about her books is she’s very consistent. She always delivers a likable female heroine, some measure of sadness or adversity, Southern charm, and a touch of magical realism. I have found that I’ve liked her books but never fallen in love, and that’s okay, because I think a lot of other folks love her, but for me this book fell into that same place the other two books did – like but not love.

Let’s talk about what I did enjoy about Lost Lake. The way the author created this sense of place, I felt that I was right there with these characters. From the descriptions of the foods they were eating, to their time together outdoors on summer evenings in this beautiful, charming cottage resort, to the swamp out back, all of it made me truly understand where these people were and exactly how being at Lost Lake made them feel.

While overall I felt only okay about the characters, there was one shining exception: Lissette, Eby’s best friend and sidekick for fifty plus years. Lissette was such a sad soul, a person who wouldn’t let go of the wounds from her past, and the way Allen concluded her story brought tears to my eyes. It was by far my favorite thing in the entire book.

When I say I felt only okay about the characters, I did like them. They were each unique and interesting, every one of them contributing something to this hodge-podge of friends who gathered at Lost Lake every year. But there was just something missing for me which caused me to not feel as deeply connected to them as I’d have liked to be. The way things ended certainly helped, as a few of them really surprised me, but overall I just didn’t fall in love with any of them, save for Lissette.

I think this book was just a bit light for my tastes, especially when I compare it to Southern fiction I’ve fallen madly in love with in the past. That being said, I did enjoy Lost Lake and can recommend it for fans of Southern fiction, women’s fiction, and those who like their novels with a touch of magic sprinkled in.

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10 thoughts on “Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

  1. I’m glad to read your review. I haven’t read Allen yet but my expectations have been sky high since so many people rave about her work. You’ve helped me lower my expectation.

  2. I always hate to say this, because I know this author is likable and has survived cancer, BUT I’m not a huge fan of her books. Garden Spells really annoyed me…could have been the audio, or not, I’m not sure. The Peach Keeper was better, but a like not love situation. The magical realism really doesn’t bother me, it is more of an issue with the characters.

    • I agree for the most part, although none of her books have outright annoyed me. I think I just haven’t ever connected with the characters how I’d want to.

    • Yes well she’s the She Reads book club pick this month so that’s probably why you’re seeing her everywhere. I think I might have liked The Peach Keeper better than this one …

  3. I felt the same way about the Addison Allen book I read – liked but not loved. Sometimes that’s good enough and knowing that you’re going to get what you expect certainly has it’s merit.

  4. I am a SAA fan and have read all of her books and I guess what I appreciate is that they are light. I start reading and before I know it I’ve spent a few hours with a smile on my face. I read Garden Spells first and it was my favorite and I’ve listened to 2 on audio and those are my least favorites so I think some of the whimsy gets lost in translation.
    That being said, I really liked this one too, but felt like it needed another 50-100 pages. There were so many characters that their stories needed to be longer.

  5. From those who I’ve shown ‘The Representative’ to so far – and that isn’t many – the cliché’s somewhat been about making an audio out of it……this being a result of my saying how it’s real power lies in it’s being heard.

    What would you say is the most ‘against industry standards’ book you’ve ever reviewed….. which was still ultimately accepted by that industry?

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