Canadian writer Mary Lawson's debut novel is a beautifully crafted and shimmering tale of love, death, and redemption. The story, narrated by 26-year-old Kate Morrison, is set in the eponymous Crow Lake, an isolated rural community where time has stood still. The reader dives in and out of a year's worth of Kate's childhood memories--when she was 7 and her parents were killed in an automobile accident that left Kate, her younger sister Bo, and two older brothers, Matt and Luke, orphaned. When Kate, the successful zoologist and professor who is accustomed to dissecting everything through a microscope, receives an invitation to Matt's son's 18th birthday party, she must suddenly analyze her own relationship and come to terms with her past before she forsakes a future with the man she loves. Kate is still in turmoil over the events of that fateful summer and winter 20 years ago when the tragedy of another local family, the Pyes, spilled over into their lives with earth-shattering consequences. But does the tragedy really lie in the past or the present? Lawson's narrative flows effortlessly in ever-increasing circles, swirling impressions in the reader's mind until form takes shape and the reader is left to reflect on the whole. Crow Lake
is a wonderful achievement that will ripple in and out of the reader's consciousness long after the last page is turned. --Nicola Perry, Amazon.co.uk
From Publishers Weekly
Four children living in northern Ontario struggle to stay together after their parents die in an auto accident in Lawson's fascinating debut, a compelling and lovely study of sibling rivalry and family dynamics in which the land literally becomes a character. Kate Morrison narrates the tale in flashback mode, starting with the fatal car accident that leaves seven-year-old Kate; her toddler sister, Bo; 19-year-old Luke; and 17-year-old Matt to fend for themselves. At first they are divided up among relatives, but the plan changes when Luke gives up his teaching college scholarship to get a job and try to keep them together. The fractured family struggles mightily against the grinding rural poverty of Crow Lake, and the brothers conduct a fierce battle of wills to control their fate, until they both finally land jobs and the family gets some assistance from a neighbor. Unfortunately, that assistance can't overcome the deranged rage of a neighboring farmer, Cyrus Pye, and when Matt becomes involved with Pye's daughter, Maria, a tragic incident robs the brilliant young man of a chance to pursue a career as a naturalist. Kate goes on to become a zoologist at a Toronto college and marry a fellow academic, but her frustration with her brother's fate renders her unable to return to Crow Lake to visit him until the pivotal climax. Lawson delivers a potent combination of powerful character writing and gorgeous description of the land. Her sense of pace and timing is impeccable throughout, and she uses dangerous winter weather brilliantly to increase the tension as the family battles to survive. This is a vibrant, resonant novel by a talented writer whose lyrical, evocative writing invites comparisons to Rick Bass and Richard Ford. (Mar.)Forecast: The combination of orphan protagonists and effortless prose makes this an irresistible first effort. Foreign rights have already been sold in nine countries, and similar enthusiasm should be expected in the U.S.
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