NetGalley Surprise: Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

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3 of 5 stars

Imagine my shock when I received an email on Thursday saying that I was approved for Lost Lake on NetGalley.. and 3 months after I originally requested it (better late than never!!). I immediately sat there in shock, texted my husband to commemorate my first approval by a large publisher, then downloaded and began voraciously reading thinking I would be done reading it that night and post my super raving review. But it didn’t work out that way because… well, you’ll see…

Lantern lights are basically my favorite thing in the entire world.. they really do create a magical atmosphere, so I was a sucker for the cover of Lost Lake and had to read it from the moment I saw it. Plus, I’m a big fan of Sarah Addison Allen. And I loooove lakes. Like heat from a fire, the closer to water you are, the stronger you feel it.

What could go wrong?

Lost Lake is set in Suley, Georgia, a middle-of-nowhere town where Eby and George decide to settle and run a summer cabin getaway. Kate, Eby’s great-neice, recently widowed, wakes up one day after being “asleep” for a year after her husband’s death and realizes that she no longer recognizes herself. She has let her mother-in-law take over her life and almost stamp out her daughter, Devin’s, creative and wild spirit. Devin finds a post card sent long ago from Eby with Lost Lake on the front, and they take off almost immediately to revisit the “last best summer” that Kate had – lost Lake was where she left her heart and her childhood. Little does she know that Eby has almost lost hope for saving Lost Lake… what follows is a story about grieving and hoping that is full of friends and magic in a serene setting. Sounds great.. right?

But… Lost Lake just didn’t do it for me. I mean, it was a good story but it just didn’t suck me in like Allen’s other stories. A couple of reasons could be:

1. Garden Spells. It’s my favorite and pretty hard to live up to.
2. The galley version was not formatted extremely well (no paragraph breaks where there should have been, misplaced words, etc.) to the point where it was kind of distracting.
3. The characters were not nearly as deep as in Allen’s other work. I think there were just too many main characters that she was trying to develop.
4. There was not one explicit element of magic that the story centered on, so I spent the entire story trying to figure out what the magic actually was.
5. I was having a lot of book feels and getting sad while reading this because everyone’s husband is dead (not a spoiler, don’t worry… that’s what the story is based on from the very beginning.)
6. All the events just seemed so surface level.. there really is so much going on – on the side of the main plot is Wes and his grieving over his brother that he lost in a fire when he was younger, Lizette who has no voice box and burns all of the notes she writes out of fear that she will break someone’s heart again, Bulahdeen and Selma (the old ladies who are complete opposites of each other) both seeking a cure for their lonliness, the “alligator” that keeps popping up and talking to Devin, Lazlo who is pressuring Eby and Wes to sell, etc. – The separate storylines just didn’t come together so seamlessly, either.

All that being said, of course, I still really liked the story. Devin is spunky, strong, and carefree. She is the character that eventually drew me in and gave me the depth that I was looking for. She’s a dreamer. Most people never get what they want because they change what they want, change it to something more practical and reachable.

And George (Eby’s late husband that you learn about through her memories) is the kind of man that is truly and purely good. The kind that everyone wishes they knew and some are lucky enough to know. I wish there had been more about him. People couldn’t help but like George. His laugh was like a barrel of whiskey… Just looking at him, you could see that his capacity to love was as wide as the world.

The theme of moving forward is also very strong..
If we measured life in the things that happened, we wouldn’t get anywhere.

Overall, I think this book is worth a re-read – of a final version to see if my opinion changes.

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