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.