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Crow Lake (Today Show Book Club #7) Paperback – January 13, 2003

4.3 out of 5 stars 235 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Today's Book Club
  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback; Today Show Book Club edition (January 13, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385337639
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385337632
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (235 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,329 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
CROW LAKE is one of those wonderful novels you pick up and are immediately engrossed in the lives of the characters. Kate Morrison is the narrator and takes us back twenty years to the eventful year when she was seven years old. That's the year that an accident killed both her parents and left her and her one-year-old sister Bo and two older brothers, Matt and Luke, an orphaned family. Rather than allow the children to be split up among relatives, nineteen-year-old Luke makes the decision that he will forego college and care for his siblings. Life is hard but always interesting as the four survive by their wits and help from family and friends.
Mainly, this is the story of Kate and her love for her brother Matt. Matt has always been her role model, her idol and inspiration. It is he who first plants the idea of studying zoology in her head with his always entertaining trips to the nearby ponds on their land. Matt is the over-achieving academic of the family who hatches a secret plot with Kate. He will get his college degree and with the wonderful job he will land he can pay for her to attend college. When she graduates, the two of them will help send Bo and Luke.
Alas, the plan goes awry when a terrible tragedy at a neighbor's house spills over to the Morrisons and changes the course of all their lives. How Kate deals with this tragedy and its far-reaching effects on her will certainly give the reader a lot to consider about families and the place each child has in his or hers. This is a story of great love and great loss and the healing that takes many years to accomplish. It is a tale of resentment and jealousy played against the power of loyalty. It is an uplifting tale of succeeding against terrible odds and almost losing what is most important.
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Format: Hardcover
Mary Lawson's Crow Lake is a wonderful novel, a work that will blow away all expectations of what it really is all about. The novel, which is narrated by Kate, a scientist in her late twenties, begins with the death of both of Kate's parents in a car accident, an accident which leaves Kate and her three siblings orphans. I know what you are thinking--sounds like Oprah, sounds predictable, we see where this is going. Well, it's none of those things and it will take you some place else. Lawson delves into the depths of family relationships, of familial expectations and love. One of the things that makes this book different is Kate's narrative style. We follow the story of what happened after her parents were killed, as that story somehow collides with her present story. She has been invited back to Crow Lake, doesn't know if she can handle it, doesn't know if she should take her current boyfriend. Her current predicaments are all caused by what happened to her family so many years ago and it's fascinating and thought-provoking. Mary Lawson has given us a terrific novel, an engaging read. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
Crow Lake is an interesting novel on many levels. It has beautiful descriptions of the land in northern Ontario, a tragedy that occurs in the beginning of the novel, obstacles to overcome by family members and a dire mystery that is alluded to from early on. What is it then that disappoints me? I guess for me, I never became involved with the central character Kate. She is unemotional, detached and academic. She resists facing her past, by refusing to become involved in her current relationships both with her students as well as her boyfriend. Her story is told in a series of flashbacks beginning with her parents death when she was age seven. It describes her relationships with her siblings especially her brother Matt whom she looks up to and loves devotedly. The story continually refers to a deeper, darker, oppressive mystery that is yet to come and involves the neighboring Pye family. The problem is, when everything is said and done, it is all anti-climatic. So what!! Mary Lawson, has a talent for writing. Her words and imagery are beautifully depicted. Her descriptions of seven year old Kate struggling to process her parents death is right on. Why resort to using the big "mystery" technique for the story. I felt this story was rich enough to sustain itself simply by the feelings, actions and environment that Lawson created for the Morrison family. Good story, wonderful descriptions but lacking in the final chapters.
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Format: Paperback
Crow Lake is reminiscent of books like "A Northern Light" and "Atonement". We follow the story of the books narrator, Kate Morrison, from age 7 to age 29. The untimely accidental death of her parents finds Kate and her siblings, Matt and Luke (the two older brothers) and Bo (her 1 ½ year old sister) facing choices and challenging decisions that alters each of their lives forever.

Lawson utilizes her writing talent to capture not only the plight of Morrison family but to surround them with an assortment of friends, family and neighbors equiped with noble hearts and curious idiosyncrasies.

I did have a problem with the "adult Kate" who came across as self-absorbed and unforgiving. It seems that for all her knowledge and formal education she has never been able to grow out of her adolescent mental image of Matt and as a result is left with unresolved feelings of guilt and a self imposed emotional isolation.

Crow Lake serves as a warning to us all of the potentially destructive nature of hero-worship and challenges us to examine our definition of success and how we measure it. 3 1/2 STARS
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