A journey to The Lake of Dreams

Kim Edwards - Chapters IndigoMy journey began on February 7 when Kim Edwards, author of “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter“, came to Chapters-Indigo at the Manulife Centre in Toronto to discuss her latest book, “The Lake of Dreams” with the Globe & Mail’s Sarah Hampson. Since her first book was such a memorable read, I couldn’t pass up the chance to attend. Looking back at notes I took from that night, the discussion was focused a lot on Edwards’ usage of time in the two novels. Here are a few of the points where the two parallel:

  • Edwards spoke of the main characters being drawn to the past. Nora from Memory Keeper clung to the daughter she believed died at birth, and often wondered what would have been, always feeling that longing; Lucy clings to the past through notes she finds, and hopes to find a history of her family that gives women a voice.
  • The era’s the characters were in came with a lot of social change. Nora’s story began in the 60s where women were fighting for social changes and Lucy was looking back on a time where Rose, her long-lost ancestor was a suffragette working to get women the vote.
  • There is also a large time span seen in both novels. In Memory Keeper it begins in the 60s but eventually ends in the latter part of the 20th century and spans many changing values in society. The same can be said for Lake of Dreams which spans nearly an entire century from the early 1910s until present time.

My review

“The Lake of Dreams” was another example of Edwards’ excellent writing skill, and while the story itself wasn’t the most exciting for me, this made up for it, when I could have easily gotten quite bored.

The story is mostly set in modern day upstate New York where the protagonist, Lucy, finds herself feeling lost at sea, having never gotten over the death of her father years prior, and more recently having trouble adjusting to her new life with her boyfriend Yoshi in Japan. While visiting her mother in the small town she grew up in, Lucy finds a link to a bit of family history that was long-forgotten. Looking for meaning in her life, this was a chance for Lucy to connect with her past in a way that pretty much pre-occupied most of her time.

I enjoyed reading about Lucy’s (and Rose’s) journey, and her finding some meaning in her life, along with closure to drama that had been bubbling for years, but to me it isn’t a memorable novel that I look forward to reading multiple times, like “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter”. That being said, I can’t wait for Kim Edwards’ next novel because of her writing style and great characters. I give “The Lake of Dreams” a 3/5

Top 5 books I’ve read in 2010

I love to read. I’m pretty sure I’ve made this clear over the last while, and if you’re regular reader of my blog you’ll see my many book reviews. I tried to read 26 books in 52 weeks, but it appears that may have been too lofty of a goal – it might have something with me reading books that are 800+ pages too.

Anyway, I think I’ve read enough to compile a serious top 5 list of my favourites. This is a list of the top books I’ve read this year; they didn’t necessarily come out this year. I’ve included a link to the previous reviews I’ve given so as not to repeat myself again and again:

5. The Girl Who Played With Fire

This is the second book in the Stieg Larsson trilogy, and I felt the character development of Lisbeth Salander was much better than the first, where she was still a bit of a mystery. Find out more from my review which I posted on July 23.

4. Gratitude

A great World War II novel that takes place in Hungary, which I liked, because anytime I read something, fictional or non-fictional, that happens outside of countries like Germany, England or the United States, I have a better appreciation of what happened during the war. Here’s my review which I posted on February 24.

3. Secret Daughter

An amazing book about the culture clash that occurs between couples coming from very different backgrounds and how that can affect families as the children of those couples grow and want to adapt to one culture or the other. My review of “Secret Daughter” was posted on September 29.

2. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter

An amazing story about a father who made the decision to give up his first born daughter because she had Down’s Syndrome. He lied to his wife and told her she was a still born, but for years he held the secret, and his wife went into a deep depression, which affected her love for the boy they later had together. You can read the rest of my review, which I posted on May 5.

1. Through Black Spruce

In 2009, Joseph Boyden’s first novel “Three Day Road” made it to number two on my top five list of fiction books, in 2010, he’s improved on that with “Through Black Spruce”.

To steal from my earlier review of the book (my first review of 2010), “This is story is a universal one of self discovery. The path the characters take aren’t ones they’d want to go through, but because of those experiences they have a  stronger understanding of who they are and what’s important to them, in the end.”

I’m anxiously awaiting the planned third book in this series, and who knows, if it comes out in 2011, it may make the top of the pile again!

What is your top book you read this year? Did any of the books I read make it?

My review of The Memory Keeper’s Daughter

I’m happy that I’m finally getting back on track with my book reading of late. “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter” by Kim Edwards is book number eight of my “26 in 52 Challenge” and it’s been a while but I can finally say I enjoyed just about every aspect of this book.

In the winter of 1964 times were much different. People were a lot less tolerant of babies who were born “malformed”. Such was the case with this novel. Dr. David Henry and his wife Norah were expecting the birth of their first child, however after a series of events that leads Dr. Henry to have to deliver his own, he finds his wife was carrying twins. The first child, a boy, Paul, was born healthy, but the second, a girl, Phoebe, was born with Down Syndrome. Dr. Henry notices this right away and makes the decision to not tell his wife about Phoebe. As was common with the time, many children born with Down Syndrome were sent to institutions where they would live out their days; this is where Dr. Henry asked his nurse Caroline Gill to take Phoebe that night. Caroline ends up taking Phoebe, leaving town and raising her. The rest of the novel looks at how everyone deals with the situation, including Norah, and eventually her son Paul who believe Phoebe died at birth.

It was a very emotional novel to read, and quite shocking to learn about how those with Down Syndrome were treated back then. There are still many stigmas and prejudices that exist today, but the situation is much improved, comparatively. It also takes place over many decades and shows that progression of the difficulties families had to deal with in simply getting their children in schools and the community.

As I’ve found with many Penguin books, this one was very character driven, and I got the chance to experience the viewpoints of three or four richly detailed people and how they experienced their lives, living with their situations. I highly recommend this one and you will not be disappointed. I give it a 5/5.

I did a Google search and found it was made into a Lifetime movie of the week and was kind of upset. I pictured this being made into something for the big screen, though who knows, it could still happen one day.

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