Review: ‘Lost Lake’ by Sarah Addison Allen

Blurb from GoodReads: 

The first time Eby Pim saw Lost Lake, it was on a picture postcard. Just an old photo and a few words on a small square of heavy stock, but when she saw it, she knew she was seeing her future.

That was half a life ago. Now Lost Lake is about to slip into Eby’s past. Her husband George is long passed. Most of her demanding extended family are gone. All that’s left is a once-charming collection of lakeside cabins succumbing to the Southern Georgia heat and damp, and an assortment of faithful misfits drawn back to Lost Lake year after year by their own unspoken dreams and desires.

It’s a lot, but not enough to keep Eby from relinquishing Lost Lake to a developer with cash in hand, and calling this her final summer at the lake. Until one last chance at family knocks on her door.

Lost Lake is where Kate Pheris spent her last best summer at the age of twelve, before she learned of loneliness, and heartbreak, and loss. Now she’s all too familiar with those things, but she knows about hope too, thanks to her resilient daughter Devin, and her own willingness to start moving forward. Perhaps at Lost Lake her little girl can cling to her own childhood for just a little longer… and maybe Kate herself can rediscover something that slipped through her fingers so long ago.

One after another, people find their way to Lost Lake, looking for something that they weren’t sure they needed in the first place: love, closure, a second chance, peace, a mystery solved, a heart mended. Can they find what they need before it’s too late?


I was hoping that this novel would have the same sprinkling of magic and wonder that ‘The Girl Who Chased the Moon‘ did- that it would be touching, whimsical and romantic without being too cloying. Unfortunately, I have to confess myself disappointed by this- although there were elements of this I liked (for instance, I found the first chapter, describing Eby on honeymoon in Paris, sultry and beguiling and escapist) a lot of it felt predictable and formulaic, once the main characters were introduced, because it was clear that (SPOILER) they were probably going to all be paired off with other characters, like Noah’s Ark. After reading ‘The Girl Who Chased the Moon’ earlier this same month, I could see similar themes (no bad thing, in itself,) but I could also see similar patterns, and that bothered me.

-Young unfeasibly-attractive woman (Kate) who finds herself single and yearning (like Julia in TGWCTM?) Check.

-Small town setting where strange things occur? Check.

-Evil stepmother type? (In ‘Lost Lake’, the Evil Stepmother type is Kate’s mother-in-law, a harrassing, controlling, probably-repressed woman with the odd name of Cricket. (Eh? What?) In TGWCTM, it’s undoubtedly-evil Get-the-Hell-Away-from-My-Poor-Julia-How-Dare-You Beverly. Check.

-Everyone  suddenly getting suitable love interests in a surprisingly short time? Check.

-‘Blast from the past’ characters who suddenly turn up out of the blue? Check.

-Emphasis on a character who can cook/bake really well? (Julia/Lisette?) Check.

-Random references to ghosts? Check.

After a while of reading this, this felt repetitive and, dare I say it, not magical enough. I also didn’t feel the characters resonated with me as much- Kate felt a bit bland, although I admired her devotion to her cute daughter, Devin, and Eby’s desire to sell the Lost Lake cabins- even when it was clearly her home, and part of her history, not to mention a move that would no doubt tear her best friend, Lisette, apart- grated on me, much like Vianne Rocher‘s desire to be ‘normal’- even though she is so wonderfully different- occasionally grated on me in ‘The Lollipop Shoes’ by Joanne Harris. (One of my favourite books, which ironically has similar themes. Read my full review of it here.)

Other parts felt a bit ill-thought out to me: e.g. (SPOILER) Lisette’s muteness, the way she had to write everything down on a notepad hanging around her neck on a bit of twine- felt a bit too ‘thrown in’ for me. A bit like, ‘oh, I’ll just put this in because it’s unusual, and everyone loves an unusual character’ kind of thing. I also got a little annoyed by the apparent lack of diversity within the novel- most of the characters were straight, white, married/in relationships/about to be in relationships. In fact, potential relationships kept on sprouting like weeds (the Noah’s Ark thing again.) Come to think of it, relationships seemed like the ultimate goal for all of them. It would have been nice to see some more happily-single-independent-resilient type characters.

As always though, some of the descriptions were absolutely on-point, and I loved the description of the gently-decaying Lost Lake cabins, Lisette’s cooking, and the hilarious relationship between elderly visitors Bulhadeen (full of life,) and Selma (an ever crotchety wannabe femme-fatale,) but this was far too slow-paced for me, and there was not enough action/drama. (Seriously though, what is with these NAMES? Bulhadeen? Eby? CRICKET?) All in all, a bit disappointing, and even though I did have serious issues with TGWCTM (read my review here,) this was not as memorable for me. However, I appreciate what the author is trying to do, and I would like to give Addison Allen’s  ‘Garden Spells‘ or ‘The Sugar Queen‘ a go next time.

Overall rating: 4 out of 10

Read if you enjoyed: ‘The Wedding Bees: A Novel of Honey, Love and Manners’ by Sarah-Kate Lynch

This Book in Four Words: Slow. Descriptive. Romantic. Predictable.

Image via kathymyst on Tumblr


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