Customer Reviews for

Heaven Lake: A Novel

Average Rating 4
( 16 )
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  • Posted June 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT

    A MUST READ.JOHN DALTON WROTE A TIMLESS CLASSIC. ENJOY

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  • Posted June 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    a view from within

    The trials and tribulations of a young, Christian volunteer and English teacher, Vincent Saunders. I found the storyline to be somewhat predictable and the characters not very likable; however, the descriptions of the various locales were beautiful. I would recommend to those interested in missionary life and traveling.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2006

    Great Prose, but...

    Dalton spent years and years writing this novel and the prose reflexs his effort, but after the first third of the book the story and the characters turn from fun and quirky into boring and over blown. Hopefully in his next novel he will continue to write beautifully, but with more interesting characters and events.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2006

    Why all the raves?

    I was rather disappointed by this highly-rated first novel for several reasons. First, and most important, the book is quite stereotypical in its characterization of Asians. Having been to many countries there (including Taiwan and China), I was very dismayed that Asians are portrayed as shallow, zenophobic, and self-serving. The protagonist, Vincent, comes across as a weak and somewhat despicable lost soul, which is just fine except the overall plot is highly unbelievable. His hashish-head friend is another unlikeable character in a book that, while well written, is very unsatisfying. Although I finished the book, which was a chore to say the least, I would not recommend this book for serious readers. Maybe it got its award because of its accomplished prose (like many Pulitzer winners, such as Gilead), but to me it was a waste of time to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2006

    Engaging

    Vincent Saunders is a character that the reader can relate to, although his circumstances are extreme. As he finds his way through the mire of spirituality and morality, the reader is at once sympathetic to his flaunderings and protective of his innocence. Dalton has written a consistant, rich novel that is void of 'dull' spots.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2005

    truly disappointed

    I couldn't bear to stomach this novel. I couldn't even get past the writing because the entire content was so disrespectful to the Asian culture. It's just chock full of exoticism. I couldn't believe someone thought it was okay to write so ignorantly about a culture with such a thinly veiled curtain of asiaphilia.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2005

    A few bad value judgments are made by this Christian Volunteer

    John Dalton has written an excellent first novel that I found a bit uneven In structure but always entertaining with several surprise plot twists along the way. Our hero of the tale is Vincent how as a recent college grad volunteers for Christian work in Taiwan. But this is no story about faith above all, but instead it is about character. How does Vincent develop character is what Dalton is about here. Vincent is really sheltered sole although not completely an innocent when he arrives in country and finds he can not live without making a few bad value judgments. He is turned off by the hard core believer who is sent to help him and attracted by friendship to a pot smoking Scotsman Alex he shares a rooming house with. The central plot point of the book is that Vincent accepts a mission to marry a mainland girl from a remote village so she can get out of the country to marry Mr. Gwa, who presents himself as a wealthy businessman who wants to learn English. As far fetched as this whole idea goes, and to why Vincent would say yes to such a mission is the spine of the narrative. I recommend the book and only have the following reservations. I found the center section a bit slow and heavy on traveling situations that although entertaining did no drive the story forward. And I found the ending less than satisfying although I am not sure I could come up with one that was any better. This is an enjoyable if not great novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2005

    A marvelous journey of self, emotion, and spirit

    What causes one to wander into a bookshop and select the one perfect book to fill some unnamed empty niche of the inner spirit? I don't know, but on one lucky day this is what happened to me. John Dalton's novel accomplished this through a marvelously crafted tale of longing, intrigue, and the search for personal fulfillment. While Dalton obviously concentrates on telling the story, he crams the book with an abundance of brilliantly written sentences and paragraphs. Time and again, I found myself exclaiming, 'How can someone put words together this beautifully?!' His words flow smoothly across the page like a silky seed rides the spring breeze. This book, however, is more than plot, character, and climax. It is deep and revelatory. Having bicycled across China in 1983, I found Dalton's descriptions of the landscape, people, and situations to be credible.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2005

    overwhelming

    Normally, I read one or two books per week. I cruise through them, without too much emotion or excitement. But, John Dalton book Heaven Lake's is compelling, exciting, and urging me to turn the page, and slowly digest each sentence, and paragraph to its fullest. I have never been to china, but he makes me want to travel to the far east, to experience the culture.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2005

    a triumphant entrance in the world of literature.

    this was really a great book. for the majority of it the author leads you to believe one thing about the main character - weakness - only in the end to put a surprising twist to the tale and leave you with a smile. the overwhelming theme of loss is prevalant and incessant throughout the whole of the novel, and yet somehow the author leaves you with an ineffable feeling of hope and gladness for the characters. one can only look forward to his next work.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2004

    Excellent. I loved the characters and felt their joy and pain.

    I bought the book because the locale was Taiwan and China. I found the descriptions of the county so vivid I could actually recreate the smells and sound that I remember from being in Taiwan.The deftly written story held me in its grasp the whole time. When I finished reading, I felt as though I knew Vincent and for days now have thought about the relationships in the book and how the struggles of his life led him to a better understanding of himself. A 'can't put down' book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2004

    Bravo! And many thanks, John Dalton!

    This is a story of coming of age and love, wherein Dalton's young protagonist, Vincent Saunders, faces a series of intriguing, belief shaking and character building eperiences, falters often, learns much, and grows. This novel, which teaches as much as it entertains, is the best I have read in over 15 years. Its obvious that Mr. Dalton labored to craft every sentence of this novel, if not every word, with respect and affection for the reader, to create something not just worthy of our time and money, but a novel we can learn from and carry with us. Heaven Lake ought also to serve as an inspiration to all new writers--look what you can do! This is your standard! Dalton has the ability to probe a character like John Updike and the ability to suspend belief like John Irving, but this John brings to the reader something sweeter, more tender, and pleasing, capable of even jerking a tear from a 55 year old cynic like me. I would suggest this quintessential novel should make it to the required list of all good college modern fiction courses. Vincent is a natural progression from Huckleberry Finn and Holden Caulfield. I want my 22 year old son to read this book! I must say that usually I am a tough sell when it comes to modern fiction, and this effusive praise comes from one who has often abandoned half unread much of what I have run across in recent years, and I rarely find anything worth recommending to others (I have never written a comment before.) But I will be doing two things with Heaven Lake I have rarely done. First, I have already started to read it a second time, just to further understand better how he accomplished it. And secondly, I'll be buying more copies-one pristine copy I hope he'll sign to compliment the one I am going to wear out apparently, and one (or more when the paperback is out) to push on my friends and family. This book will obviously have a broad appeal, and rightly so. Oh, and Mr. Publisher, please place a caution sticker on the face of Heaven Lake--'Please do not read while driving the interstate or in heavy traffic!' I owe some fellow commuters an apology, having bought the book on a Sunday I had to finish it on a working day!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2004

    A great American Debut

    I know John Dalton; in fact, I knew him long before he attended the Iowa Writer¿s Workshop, long before he moved to Taiwan to teach English, long before he bravely traveled deep into the heart of contemporary China. Now, I am not a writer (I¿m a teacher), but I want you to know that Heaven Lake is a wonderful, richly rewarding novel. I say this because John labored on this narrative for nearly ten years. He wrote and rewrote sentence by sentence and paragraph by paragraph, discovering (long after his graduate degree had been awarded) what it meant to craft a literary novel that would entertain readers and reach a broad audience. John could have easily sold Heaven Lake to a lesser publishing house years ago. My feeling is that such a publication would have disappeared quickly. In fact, I read an earlier version of the novel in 1996. I didn¿t hate it, but I knew in my heart it would not be something I would want to pick up at the bookstore, investing my money and my time. I remember how hard it was to tell John this earlier version did not work for me. Our friendship managed to survived, but I was banned from reading his work for years. He wouldn¿t let me look at it again until the summer of 2002, and, well, I was worried. What if I still disliked it? Would I lie to one of my closest friends? I knew in my heart that I couldn¿t and, thankfully, such concerns were quickly discarded. Heaven Lake proved to be an entertaining, absorbing, emotionally resonant and compelling read. I was hooked by the complex characters and the epic scope of the narrative. Let me put it in perspective. I read Heaven Lake during the same month that I read The Lovely Bones, and I¿m here to tell you there is no comparison. Heaven Lake is by far the greater novel, and anyone looking for a suspenseful page-turner, full of rich, multi-dimensional characters, evocative cultural detail, and a wry sense of humor will be rewarded for giving this debut novel, from a novelist worthy of our attention, its due.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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