The Lake of Dreams: A Novel

( 182 )


From Kim Edwards, the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Memory Keeper's Daughter, an arresting novel of one family's secret history

Imbued with all the lyricism, compassion, and suspense of her bestselling novel, The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Kim Edwards’s The Lake of Dreams is a powerful family drama and an unforgettable story of love lost and found.

Lucy Jarrett is at a crossroads in her life, still haunted by her father's ...

See more details below
$13.66 price
(Save 14%)$16.00 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (114) from $1.99   
  • New (13) from $1.99   
  • Used (101) from $1.99   
The Lake of Dreams

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$12.99 price


From Kim Edwards, the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Memory Keeper's Daughter, an arresting novel of one family's secret history

Imbued with all the lyricism, compassion, and suspense of her bestselling novel, The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Kim Edwards’s The Lake of Dreams is a powerful family drama and an unforgettable story of love lost and found.

Lucy Jarrett is at a crossroads in her life, still haunted by her father's unresolved death a decade earlier. She returns to her hometown in Upstate New York, The Lake of Dreams, and, late one night, she cracks the lock of a window seat and discovers a collection of objects. They appear to be idle curiosities, but soon Lucy realizes that she has stumbled across a dark secret from her family's past, one that will radically change her—and the future of her family—forever.

The Lake of Dreams will delight those who loved The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, as well as fans of Anna Quindlen and Sue Miller.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Once again, Edwards has created a memorable cast of easily recognizable characters . . . This is a powerful story about the influence of history, the importance of our beliefs, and the willingness to embrace them all.”

“Gorgeously written. . . . luminously beautiful.”
The Dallas Morning News

“[Edwards’s] latest novel, set in the Finger Lakes region of her native New York, is another tour de force that showcases her talent for engaging readers immediately and, her agile prose would argue, effortlessly.”
Louisville Courier-Journal

“Beautifully written, with vivid imagery and emotion, this book shines with artistry. Edwards has another winner here, and I look forward to reading more of her work.”

“Kim Edwards writes with great wisdom and compassion about family, choices, secrets, and redemption.”
—Luanne Rice

Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Edwards's much anticipated second novel may disappoint fans of her first, The Memory Keeper's Daughter. When Lucy Jarrett returns to her childhood home in Lake of Dreams, N.Y., she learns that her brother, Blake, who's gone into the family business, and his girlfriend hope to drain a controversial marsh to construct a high-end property. Meanwhile, Lucy, who remains haunted by her father's death in a fishing accident years earlier, reconnects with her first boyfriend, Keegan Fall, now a successful glass artist. But when she sees something familiar in the pattern of one of his pieces, and discovers a hidden note in her childhood home, Lucy finally digs into her family's mysterious past. Unfortunately, the lazy expository handling of information mutes the intrigue, and readers will see the reignited spark between Keegan and Lucy coming for miles. All loose ends eventually come together with formulaic ease to rock the family boat. Edwards is at her best when highlighting the strain between her characters. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Lucy Jarrett returns to Lake of Dreams in upstate New York a decade after her father's mysterious death. She was only a teenager then, but she still has not absolved herself of her guilt over not going fishing with him the night he died. Her mother lives alone in a few rooms of their large family home, where Lucy discovers some old letters in a window seat. She grows determined to solve the mysteries surrounding her great-grandfather's suffragette sister, Rose, who was forced to give away an illegitimate daughter and who may have been the muse for a famous stained-glass artist. Lucy's high school boyfriend, Keegan Fall, a glass artist himself, also enters the picture. Lucy's domestic partner, Yoshi, is headed to Lake of Dreams from Japan, and Lucy's not sure if they have a future together. Many unresolved issues come to a head for Lucy in a few short weeks, and this somewhat strains credibility. VERDICT Edwards's runaway best seller, The Memory Keeper's Daughter, which so engaged the hearts of many readers, is indisputably a hard act to follow. Lacking the melodramatic sizzle of its predecessor, this sophomore effort is a colorful but middling multilayered novel about family history, love, and redemption. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 8/10.]—Keddy Ann Outlaw, formerly with Harris Cty. P.L., Houston, TX
The Barnes & Noble Review

A long-lost relative, a cache of old documents, a haunting past: these plot-thickeners combined effectively in Kim Edwards's The Memory Keeper's Daughter, a 2006 best-seller that dramatized the damaging effects of a shameful secret on a Lexington, Kentucky family from 1964 through the 1980s. Edwards's second novel, The Lake of Dreams, aims for a similar goal over a longer time span, reaching back many generations to expose hidden connections between a contemporary young woman and her female ancestor who had been erased, until now, from the family record.

Set in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, where Edwards grew up, the new novel makes a strong case for the area's abundant charms, both natural and historical. Edwards grounds her characters in a fictional town about an hour south of Rochester called The Lake of Dreams, named by the Iroquois who were its first inhabitants. Lakes, and water in general, are a key motif here: Lucy Jarrett, the 29-year-old narrator, is a hydrologist living in Japan who makes a trip back to her waterfront hometown and notes big changes afoot among the summer cottages and picturesque shorelines.

The local military depot is closing, setting off a land-grab dispute between developers and environmentalists hoping to preserve the wetlands' delicate ecosystem. The town's lake is also a source of deep emotion for Lucy, who fished and swam in it throughout her childhood and whose beloved father died there in an accidental drowning just before she left for college. "All my nightmares were at the bottom of this lake," she admits; "everything I'd ever lost was there." Having lived and worked abroad after college, first in Indonesia, then in Japan, Lucy uses this trip home to revisit her unhealed grief and to decide where she fits in her family's lakeside life now that a decade has elapsed since her father's funeral, when "the day-to-day ...close[d] over his absence as seamlessly as water over a rock."

While Lucy solves many mysteries about her father during this trip, she also stumbles across another tantalizing enigma. Hidden under a window seat in the rooftop cupola of her once-grand childhood home, she finds a stack of old papers: mostly pamphlets relating to women's suffrage activities, but also a letter from 1925 to Lucy's great-grandfather Joseph -- who had bought this house around this time and started the family hardware business that thrives to this day--signed cryptically by "R."

Lucy continues to investigate as the puzzle pieces fall neatly -- in fact, too neatly -- into place. From local library and church archives, she discovers that "R" was her great-grandfather Joseph's sister, Rose, who was sent away from the family for some sort of scandal, leaving her baby daughter to be raised by Joseph and his wife. Further excursions to Rochester and Seneca Falls suggest that this punishment may have had to do with Rose's activities in the women's suffrage movement or with her connection to a well-known stained-glass artist, whose windows depicting biblical women happen to hang in an abandoned chapel on the nearby disputed land where the military depot is closing.

With not always believable efficiency, every question here gets its answer in the next piece of evidence Lucy happens to find. What happened to Rose's daughter? What was Rose's relationship to the glass artist -- was she his lover, his model, perhaps his colleague? What was the scandalous behavior that banished her from The Lake of Dreams? Could the figures of biblical female heroes in the stained-glass windows of the chapel provide some clues?

The novel's tidiness extends beyond these questions to Lucy's contemporary dilemmas. Her scheming uncle Art, who had feuded with her father in the years before his drowning, hopes to claim the family house and land as part of a waterfront development project. Meanwhile, Lucy's high-school boyfriend, now a successful glass-blower who's consulting about the restoration of the chapel's stained-glass windows, is advocating for the town's environmentalists on behalf of the Seneca nation branch of the Iroquois, of which his mother is an outspoken member. "Everything was connected in a way I had not understood before," says Lucy, and this is true to a fault. Past and present tie seamlessly together, while selective images of water, decorative glass, celestial bodies, gardens, keys and locks, and Jungian dreams repeat and repeat, like a giant craft fair with identical booths.

Edwards is a talented writer whose spiritual-political-feminist story-spinning needs more embellishment, not less, to distract readers from the prosaic workings of its machinery. Sue Monk Kidd and Jodi Picoult have proved that these kinds of novels work best with lots of mess and mayhem, with overstuffed plots and unruly adornments. To Edwards and her next enterprise I say pile it on, sister, bring more wild hair and flowing purple garments and dream catchers, more witch-and-goddess imagery and even more red herrings, and readers will stay longer at the fair.

--Donna Rifkind

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143120360
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/29/2011
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 782,723
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Kim Edwards

Kim Edwards is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, which was translated into thirty-eight languages.  The Lake of Dreams is her second New York Times bestselling novel.  She is also the author of a collection of short stories, The Secrets of a Fire King.  Her honors include the Whiting Award, the British Book Award, and USA Todays Book of the Year, as well as the Nelson Algren Award, a National Magazine Award, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.  A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she has taught widely in the US and Asia, and currently lives in Lexington, Kentucky.


In the late ‘90s, Edwards was making a major splash on the literary scene. Her recently published short story collection would soon be pegged for a Whiting Award and the Nelson Algren Award, and would also be an alternate for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Around this charmed time, Edwards heard a story that would ultimately propel her toward a career as a bestselling novelist.

"A few months after my story collection, The Secrets of a Fire King, was published, one of the pastors of the Presbyterian church I'd recently joined said she had a story to give me," she explained in an interview on the Penguin Group web site. "It was just a few sentences, about a man who'd discovered late in life that his brother had been born with Down syndrome, placed in an institution at birth, and kept a secret from his family, even from his own mother, all his life. He'd died in that institution, unknown. I remember being struck by the story even as she told it, and thinking right away that it really would make a good novel. It was the secret at the center of the family that intrigued me. Still, in the very next heartbeat, I thought: Of course, I'll never write that book."

Despite Edwards's quick dismissal of the idea, it would not unhand her. She let several years slip by without going to work on the story, but she never forgot it. When she was invited to run a writing workshop for mentally disabled adults, the experience affected Edwards so profoundly that she started mulling over the pastor's story more seriously. It would be another year before Edwards actually began working on The Memory Keeper's Daughter, but once she did, she found that it came quickly and surprisingly well-developed.

In The Memory Keeper's Daughter, a man named David discovers that his newly born son is in fine health, but the child's twin sister is stricken with Down Syndrome. So, the distraught father, who harbors painful memories of his own sister's chronic illness, makes a quick but incredibly difficult decision: he asks the attending nurse to take his daughter to an institution where she might receive better care. Although he tells his wife that the child was stillborn, David's decision goes on to affect the lives of himself and his wife for the following 25 years.

Haunting, dramatic, and moving, The Memory Keeper's Daughter went on to become a big seller and a critical favorite. The Library Journal hailed it as "an enthralling page-turner" and Kirkus reviews declared that Edwards "excels at celebrating a quiet wholesomeness..."

Now that Edwards has broken into novel-writing in a big way, she is hard at work on her follow up to her smash debut. "I have begun a new novel, called The Dream Master," she says. "It's set in the Finger Lakes area of upstate New York where I grew up, which is stunningly beautiful, and which remains in some real sense the landscape of my imagination. Like The Memory Keeper's Daughter, this new novel turns on the idea of a secret -- that seems to be my preoccupation as a writer -- though in this case the event occurred in the past and is a secret from the reader as well as from the characters, so structurally, and in its thematic concerns, the next book is an entirely new discovery."

Good To Know

Although Edwards had been interested in writing ever since she was a little girl, she didn't actually write her first story "Cords" until she was in a fiction workshop while attending Colgate University.

Among the many fans that Edwards has won with The Memory Keeper's Daughter is beloved novelist Sue Monk Kidd (The Secret Life of Bees), who said of Edwards's first novel, "I loved this riveting story with its intricate characters and beautiful language."

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Edwards:

"My first job was in a nursing home -- a terrible place in retrospect. It was in an old house, and the residents were so lonely. People rarely visited them. I only stayed there a couple of months, but it made a strong impression on me. Just before I left I went to get one woman for dinner, and discovered that she had died -- a powerful experience when you're 17."

"Though my stories aren't autobiographical, I do sometimes use things from my life. ‘The Way It Felt to be Falling,' a story from my collection The Secrets of a Fire King, uses sky-diving as a metaphor. Like my character, I did jump out of the first plane I ever flew in. It was an amazing experience, but I've never had the urge to do it again."

"One of my greatest times of inspiration is when I'm traveling or living in a new country-there's a tremendous freedom that comes from being unfettered by your own, familiar culture, and by seeing the world from a different point of view. "

"I love to swim, and I love being near water.

Read More Show Less
    1. Hometown:
      Lexington, Kentucky
    1. Date of Death:
    1. Education:
      A.A., Cayuga Community College; B.A., Colgate University; M.F.A., Iowa Writers' Workshop; M.A., University of Iowa
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt


Although it is nearly midnight, an unusual light slips through a crack in the wool, brushing her arm like the feathers of a wing. In the next room her parents sleep, and the darkened village is silent, but she has lain awake all these hours and now she climbs out of bed, the floorboards rough against her feet. For weeks people have talked of nothing but the comet, how the earth will pass through clouds of poison vapors in its tail, how the world could end. She is fifteen, and all day she and her brother helped seal the house—windows, doors, even the chimney—with thick black wool, hammers tapping everywhere as their neighbors did the same.

The narrow triangle of strange light touches her here, then there, as she crosses the room. She is wearing her blue dress, almost outgrown, the worn cotton soft against her skin. In this room, a low space over the shop that is hers alone, the wool is only loosely fastened to the window, and when she yanks a corner the cloth falls away, pale comet light swimming all around. She pushes the window open and takes a breath: one, and then another, deeper. Nothing happens. No poison gas, no searing lungs—only the watery spring, the scents of growing things and, distantly, the sea.

And this odd light. The constellations are as familiar as the lines on her own palms, so she does not have to search to find the comet. It soars high, a streaming jewel, circling the years, thrilling and portentous. Distantly a dog barks, and the chickens rustle and complain in their coops. Soft voices rise, mingling, her brother’s and another, one she knows; her heart quickens with anger and yearning both. She hesitates. She has not planned this moment—the turning point of her life it will become. Yet it is also no impulse that pulls her onto the window ledge, her bare feet dangling a few yards above the garden. She is dressed, after all. She left the wool loose on purpose. All day she has been dreaming of the comet, its wild and fiery beauty, what it might mean, how her life might change.

The voices rise, and she then leaps.

Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

"All these years I'd taken such comfort in my wandering life, but really I'd been as anchored to the night my father died as Blake had been, circling it from afar, still caught within its gravity." (p. 104)

As a child, Lucy Jarrett received a unique inheritance. Her father, a third-generation locksmith, taught her how "to listen to the whisper of metal shifting" (p. 36) and to open locks without a key. Since then, Lucy has left her hometown—and the pain of her father's mysterious death—far behind. But years later she finds a cache of papers whose long-held secrets will eventually unravel her family's cherished history and release Lucy from her haunted past.

It's been more than a decade since Martin Jarrett drowned in the Lake of Dreams, and Lucy has made only brief visits back to the eponymously named upstate New York village. But when she receives word that her mother has been injured in a car accident, her boyfriend, Yoshi, convinces her that a change of scenery might help her regain perspective and a sense of purpose.

Lucy first met Yoshi, an engineer, while she was on a short-term hydrology assignment in Jakarta. They'd quickly "fallen in love the way it is possible to fall in love overseas, cut off from everything" (p. 6). Afterwards, however, Yoshi found lucrative work in Japan while Lucy remained unemployed. She accompanied him only to become isolated and lonely, adrift in a foreign land.

At a crossroads in her life and in their relationship, Lucy returns to the Lake of Dreams to find the once quiet village on the brink of upheaval. The recent closing of the area's biggest employer, a local military depot, has left a large area of wetlands hotly contested between developers, conservationists, and the descendants of the Iroquois tribe who originally inhabited it.

Closer to home, her brother, Blake, has just accepted a job with their Uncle Art, who finagled their father out of his share of the family business years before. And their mother, Evie, is enjoying a budding romance after years of widowhood.

Perhaps most unsettling, however, is news that her first love, Keegan Fall, has also returned. Keegan now owns and operates a popular artisanal glassworks, and Lucy must acknowledge how "the feelings I'd had for him all those years ago surged up as if I'd never left" (p. 60).

Disoriented by jetlag and a flood of conflicting emotions, Lucy seeks refuge in her family's lakeside home. There, peeling paint exposes a cupboard that attracts Lucy's attention, and she picks the lock. Inside lies a mishmash of papers dated from between 1913 and 1925. Some are newspaper clippings and relics from the suffrage movement, but there are also two compelling and provocative handwritten notes whose author, Rose, Lucy cannot place in the family tree.

She is intrigued by this mystery, and—as she awaits Yoshi's imminent arrival—grows determined to learn Rose's true identity, embarking on a quest that will uncover the past, piece by piece. The scant clues gradually lead her through a Byzantine web of deception whose resolution will shake the Jarrett clan to its core.

Beautifully written and lushly imagined by one of today's most gifted novelists, Kim Edwards's The Lake of Dreams is an enthralling family saga rich with insights on the past's inexorable power over all our lives.


Kim Edwards is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Memory Keeper's Daughter, which has been published in more than thirty-eight countries, and a collection of short stories, The Secrets of a Fire King. Her honors include the Whiting Award, the British Book Award, and USA Today's Book of the Year, as well as the Nelson Algren Award, a National Magazine Award, and a grant from the NEA. She is an associate professor at the University of Kentucky.

Q. Your first novel, The Memory Keeper's Daughter, sold more than four million copies and was a #1 New York Timesbestseller. What was your experience writing a follow-up to such a spectacularly popular debut?

I've always written, and knew from the time I was learning to read that I wanted to be a writer, so it was completely natural for me to embark on another novel once The Memory Keeper's Daughter was complete, even before it was published. Each story begins with fragments, images, a glimpse, and in those early days with The Lake of Dreams I was doing a great deal of writing outside the narrative—character sketches and histories, writing exercises, lots and lots of free-writing of all kinds. I set myself a goal of 1,000 words a day, but I put no other constraints on the work I was doing. Very few of these early pages ended up directly in the novel, but this underlying work was necessary for me to understand the characters and the narrative. I was also reading a great deal about myths, in particular about the hero's journey and quest narratives, thinking about structure and Lucy's experiences. I read Thomas Mann's tetrology, Joseph and His Brothers, and started reading contemporary theologians, too.

Thus, by the time all the excitement began over The Memory Keeper's Daughter, I was already deeply immersed in The Lake of Dreams. I had to put writing aside altogether for a couple of years to respond to the astonishing events—The Memory Keeper's Daughter became a bestseller internationally, and won the British Book Award. When I finally came back to my desk, it was very satisfying, as well as very grounding, to return to writing in general, and to this story in particular, with so much already begun. Gradually, I was able to block out the world with all its clamor and demands and reenter the fictional world I'd been creating. Again, this shift felt quite natural and gratifying. Through times of great obscurity and times of great recognition, the constant for me, and the greatest satisfaction, has always been the writing itself.

Q. How—if at all—has success affected your job as a professor of creative writing? What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

I've been on an extended leave in order to focus on writing, so I haven't been in the classroom much lately. The advice I'd give to beginning writers remains the same, however. First, write. Every day, in a disciplined way. Read as much as possible, read everything. Take writing classes to deepen your understanding of narrative structure and character development. Find a group of other aspiring writers and exchange manuscripts—becoming a close reader of the work of others will ultimately help you turn a clear eye on your own, and the community will help sustain you through the years it takes to master aspects of craft. Be patient, and take pleasure in the joy of writing.

Q. In The Lake of Dreams, you give a subtle nod to The Memory Keeper's Daughter when Lucy looks at the book her mother is reading and "glimpsed an ethereal baby dress against a background of black" (p. 143). Both novels have abandoned children at their heart. What draws you to explore this theme?

That's a good question. It's not personal, at least not directly—my parents have been married for fifty-five years and still live in the house they built in 1958, where I grew up with my two brothers and my sister. Both my grandmothers lost their mothers at young ages and ended up in difficult situations, so perhaps hearing those stories of loss did influence me obliquely.

I think, however, that there are deeper and more interesting underlying reasons. Both of my novels deal with situations in which social structures and mores affect the individual lives of my characters. In The Memory Keeper's Daughter, the assumptions and expectations about Down's syndrome that were prevalent in the 1960s allowed David Henry to believe he was doing the right thing to give his daughter away. He acted from a position of power, but for Rose, in The Lake of Dreams, the situation was much different. Although Rose lacked rights we've come to take for granted, such as the right to vote, to own property, and to have an education, she understood her own integrity as a human being and stood up for what she believed to be right, carving out a life for herself against difficult odds and opening the path for those who would follow, even when that meant leaving her child in the care of others. What connects the two situations, in my view, is the pressure that dysfunctional aspects of society put on individuals, even on the bonds we tend to think of as being the strongest and most inviolate of all—that of parents with their children.

I'll add to this that variations on the situations in these two novels happen all the time, all around us. Several years ago I started an ESL program to meet the needs of the growing Hispanic community in my city. We worked with a literacy organization; the classes were held at a church. I taught in this program weekly for five years, and during that time I heard again and again stories that broke my heart: the couple who took turns sleeping in their car between shifts at McDonalds so they could send money home to their families, including the toddler they'd left behind; the woman who had not seen her two older children for seven years, not since they were eight and nine years old and she'd left them to try to work her way out of poverty and provide them with food and education. These were gentle and loving people who had been forced by circumstances to make choices no parent should ever have to face.

Q. Whose story did you envision first: Lucy's or Rose's?

Actually, I started with Evie's story. Before my story collection The Secrets of a Fire King was published, I finished a draft, some 400 pages long, of a novel that was a precursor to The Lake of Dreams. Some familiar elements were in that book—the comet tying an intergenerational novel together, a complex family history, and the thematic concerns with regard to the land—but the draft was a youthful effort, and it ended up in my desk drawer. I tried again, a few years later, using a different voice, but hit a wall about 200 pages in and put the book aside to write The Memory Keeper's Daughter.

By the time I returned to The Lake of Dreams I knew it was Lucy's story. I had her voice, which is always the crucial discovery. Still, as I wrote more deeply into the narrative, another voice, this one from the past, just kept persisting. I finally started writing it down, thinking I could simply understand the back story and how it had influenced Lucy and then put aside the pages I was writing. Gradually, however, the story of Rose Jarrett took on its own life, weaving its way into the contemporary narrative in ways I could not have imagined when I started.

Q. Where The Memory Keeper's Daughter is a very intimate family saga about a child with Downs syndrome, this novel is crafted against a much broader socio-political backdrop (e.g. the American suffrage movement, Native American rights, and wildlife preservation). What inspired this shift?

First, I disagree with this distinction. The Memory Keeper's Daughter does focus on individual lives, but it also takes place over several decades, and against the backdrop of the quite dramatic cultural shifts that happened in the United States during the 1960s and 1970s. The possibilities for women changed, and parents launched an extraordinary grassroots movement to gain greater acceptance for children who had disabilities, to name just two. Likewise, The Lake of Dreams is also the story of particular characters, living their lives in particular times. As a writer, I'm interested in the way that historical events and social mores influence the way we understand the world and the decisions we make. I don't think it's possible to isolate individuals, or characters, from the eras and cultures they inhabit.

Q. After you earned your graduate degrees—an MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop and an MA in linguistics—you lived and taught in Asia for several years. Like Lucy, you spent time in several countries. Are any of her experiences based on your own?

Not really, not in more than a general sense. My first summer in Japan was full of earthquakes, which was unsettling, and that made its way into the novel because it struck me as a perfect way to presage the unsettling to come in Lucy's personal and emotional life. I traveled a bit in Indonesia, but didn't spend time there, though I did draw generally on my years in Malaysia to imagine what Lucy's life would have been like there. Cambodia was a moving and important experience for me, one I've never been able to write about directly, so certainly having Lucy go there was a way of remembering my own connection to the country and to its incredibly strong people. One thing I did give Lucy from my own experience is the shift in her perspective. In total, I spent nearly six years living away from my own country and culture, and that has necessarily changed and shaped the way I see the world.

Q. You include incredible descriptions of both the art of glassmaking and technical details about hydrology—not to mention information about the suffrage movement. What were some of the more interesting things you discovered in the course of your research?

It was very interesting to read about the "Silver Ghost," which was the name given to the first Rolls Royce, and to imagine a world before the automobile. I spent time at glass studios and even tried my hand at blowing glass, as well as reading about glassmaking and the art of stained glass windows. Since I grew up very near Seneca Falls, N.Y., the research I did on the women's suffrage movement was very real and alive to me—the authors were talking about events that happened on streets I had walked, in places that I knew. Also, I was intrigued to realize, at a point far into the narrative, that all the imagery of the book was working together in a harmonious but unplanned way. The motif of the circles was in this draft of the book from the beginning, and wheelwrights resonated with that image quite directly; that was a conscious choice. Yet much later, long after I'd written the scenes, I learned that early stained glass windows were modeled on the shapes of wheels—they were called 'wheel windows'—and that the word orbit comes from the Latin orbita, meaning a rut or a track, like that left by a wheel, traced in the sky. Also, of course there are the many relevant associations with roses, from circles to chalices. I didn't plan this, not at all; in order to have any power or authenticity, images have to arise from the work itself, they cannot be imposed. So I was fascinated as I began to realize how everything resonated, how deeply and intricately all the imagery was connected.

Probably the most interesting thing, however, and perhaps the most sobering, was to realize how many of the issues the early feminists faced are still under discussion today. Only within my lifetime has the church begun to ordain women, for instance, and many denominations still exclude women from positions of authority. I was writing and researching this novel during the 2008 election, which meant that I was reading about the events and debates of the early 1900s while arguments about women's reproductive health, access to information, and even, extremely, the 19th amendment, swirled around me in the present, too. It was a compelling reminder that the rights I take for granted haven't always been there.

Q. You write about Keegan's work and Frank Westrum's stained-glass windows with such passion. Have you always been interested in this medium, or is it more of a metaphorical vehicle?

Early on in the writing of this novel I had a sense that Keegan was a stained glass artist. I was drawn to the beauty of the process, the way glass moves between liquid and solid states, and the idea of shaping glass with breath. While I took notes and kept extensive journal entries about the experiences, it was a year or more before I began to write the scenes in the novel involving glass. I had to understand the characters first, and allow time for the experiences and information I'd collected to distill into the imagery and metaphors essential for this novel.

Q. Who are some of the writers that you most admire?

There are so many that it's hard to choose. Virginia Woolf is a favorite, and I always look forward to Alice Munro and William Trevor. Seamus Heaney, too, and Mary Oliver. I enjoyed Susan Cheever's biography of Louisa May Alcott, both for Cheever's writing as for the chance to reacquaint myself with Alcott, whose books I loved as a girl. Recently, I've also started to read the collected works of Thomas Hardy, and have discovered several contemporary theologians, including Teilhard de Chardin, Dorothy Soelle, and Elizabeth Johnson; their work is brilliant and thought-provoking.

Q. What are you working on now?

I've had the first glimpses of the next novel, and I understand something about its characters and concerns, but it's far too soon to say more; it's still a secret, and will be for years.


  • By virtue of her actions and beliefs, Rose was effectively excised from the Jarrett's family history. How unusual do you think it was for women to suffer this fate?
  • Is the name of the Jarrett family business, "Dream Master," hopeful or ominous?
  • Before she became pregnant, Rose longed to become a priest, and Lucy loved the church despite the fact that "God seemed as silent as my father, as angry as my uncle, as distant as the portrait of my great-grandfather in the hall" (p. 74). In your view, what have been some consequences of denying women the priesthood and leadership roles within the church? How has this situation changed in recent decades. How does it persist? Do you feel this should change further? If so, how? If not, why not?
  • "Just knowing she had existed opened new and uneasy possibilities within my understanding of the story I thought I'd always known by heart. And I felt responsible, too" (p. 142). Why is Lucy so driven to uncover the truth about Rose? Is there a family story to which you are deeply attached? If yes, what is it and why? What happens if you try to imagine that story from the perspective of the various people involved, including those on the fringes?
  • Have you, like Lucy, ever revisited romance with an old flame while you were involved with someone new? Did you tell your new partner about your lapse? Did the encounter ultimately strengthen or weaken your new relationship?
  • Although Rose does not intend to leave Iris, her spontaneous response to the march for suffrage makes her an outcast and puts her relationship with her daughter at risk. If you are a parent, is there a cause so important to you that you would risk losing your own child in order to support it? Was the victory that Rose helped win ultimately worth her sacrifice?
  • Do you think it was Lucy's great-grandfather, Joseph, or her grandfather, Joseph, Jr., who hid the will? Why didn't he destroy it instead?
  • When they're viewing the stained-glass panel of Jesus and the woman with the alabaster jar, the Reverend Suzi explains that she is not a fallen woman and that, in the Gospels, Jesus defends her. "Yet here we are, millennia later, and we don't tell her story. We don't even have her name" (p. 339). What do you imagine her story to be?
  • "Rose, I was sure, had acted out of love, yet for Iris her mother's absence had remained an unresolved sadness at the center of her life" (p. 354). Do you agree with Lucy about Rose's decision to keep her real identity a secret from Iris—even after the latter was estranged from Joseph and Cora? What has changed culturally to make such a choice seem startling today?
  • Does Lucy make the right decision in choosing to stay with Yoshi rather than renewing her love affair with Keegan? Is a romantic relationship with someone from another culture easier or more difficult to maintain?
  • Towards the end of The Lake of Dreams, Edwards writes, "the earthquakes had eased—the underwater island had finally formed" (p. 375). Discuss the ways in which Edwards employs images of the natural world throughout the novel.
  • For generations, most women have taken for granted the rights won them by the suffrage movement and the early pioneers of family planning. How did reading The Lake of Dreams alter your perception of these bygone women—especially now that birth control and abortion are, once again, hotly debated topics?
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 182 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 182 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 13, 2011

    more from this reviewer


    This book, after the huge success of "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" is really very disappointing. Lucy Jarrett, the main character, is a whiny, annoying person. She's self-absorbed and never stops to think of others.

    I bought the book based on Kim Edwards' great story in her last book, this one leaves me cold.

    12 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 15, 2011

    This memory not worth keeping

    I was delighted to find Ms. Edwards latest offering, and rushed right home to read it. I should have taken my time. Edwards' writings are beautiful,her research well done. This plot, however, never thickened. The main character,Lucy,is extremely annoying - a trait that obviously runs in her family. It would be hard to assemble a more unlovable cast of characters than those of the Jarrett clan. Throughout, Lucy never missed an opportunity to make the many tragedies in this story all about her. I was certain that she would pay for all of this in the end, but no. By the close of this tale, I was praying that Iris would come forth and tell Lucy to mind her own business. I can't conclude that Rose really did anything admirable by dumping her child and running off to join the circus. What was the message here? The suffrage movement took precedence?

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 1, 2011

    A Little Boring

    I so looked forward to this book, as I loved The Memory Keeper's Daughter. Both were complex stories, but where Memory Keeper kept you wanting more and kept you enthralled in the story, The Lake of Dreams only left me wanting to finish. None of the characters were really fleshed out; boring. The parts concerning the letters to Lisa were just plain overdone and drawn out. This book could have been so much more.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2012

    Great read, wonderful prose

    I see a lot of negative reviews on here stating the characters are not likable. They are flawed, and justice is grey. I feel this makes them more realistic and relatable.

    The novel is written in the first person so you are subject to all of Lucy's inner thoughts, selfishness, and paranoia. But this is a book about emotional growth and overcoming loss. It is a book about how that strain plays out subconsciously though dreams and desires. Without that perspective, we would not see the same growth, or lack of growth in the characters.

    It is helpful to have some knowledge of the womens suffrage movement and general knowledge of the early 20th century in order to fully appreciate Rose's side plot. A lot of the themes in this book have to do with pride in your heritage, and how the things we are proud of change based on culture and status. It attests to how our perceived knowledge of our past (or lack thereof) shapes our self-image.

    The novel is also about guilt and how we make amends for that guilt through faith and good works. There is a line drawn connecting several different cultures' creation myths and the similarities therein. As much as the various characters feel set adrift, they are connected through these commonalities.

    All of the many subtle themes running through this novel are all drawn delightfully together through Kim Edwards' beautiful prose. The imagery is very moving. The auther wraps the tones of water throughout all of the passages.

    I read this book straight through, getting lost in its lyracism. It is well worth the read. If you do read it, you will be overcome with the desire to go sailing.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 13, 2011

    Don't bother

    A huge disappoint. Shallow characters, weak plot, choppy writing that needed better editing.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 29, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    I highly recommend.

    In this multi-faceted story Lucy Jarrett is at a crossroads in her life and goes on a personal journey, taking the opportunity since she is jobless at the moment and with her Mom's accident decides, to go home. Questioning her relationship with her boyfriend, she contemplates rekindling the affections of an old flame. While there, she finds some hidden letters that capture her interest and she decides to embark on a quest to find out the mystery behind them and her father's death. This is a vividly detailed, beautifully written, simple, yet succinct novel that will appeal to many. I highly recommend.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2011

    Very disappointing

    The Lake of Dreams was very disappointing. The main character. Lucy, lacked any depth and was at times very annoying. As a matter of fact, none of the characters were very interesting. The focus of the story took forever to get anywhere. It wasn't until three quarters of the way into the book, that the plot emerged. The author wandered all over the place. I read the Memory Keepers Daughter and loved it. The Lake of Dreams was "dreamless" and not worth the time and effort of reading it. Would not recommend.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 26, 2011


    this is the type of book you want to borrow from the library and not one to purchase - Kim Edwards writes the characters nice but they will not stay with you after you are done the book // Lucy (the main character) becomes very consumed with past events and her family past but is very distant to her "here and now" family; she treats her mother and her brother like they don't matter - and her mother is not much better to her two children // I did like the fact that the ending was not expected but it was not also filled with a "dramatic twist" - it was, again, ordinary and real life like // TO PAST EDWARD READERS: give kudos to the fact that Kim writes this story very differently then "Memory Keeper" where we, the reader, were aware of all the story threads wherein "Dreams" we were kept on the out - two very different story-telling styles which I would assume is not at all easy

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 10, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Beautifully written, well worth reading.

    I enjoyed reading this book. Who hasn't questioned the direction they've taken, wondering if one past decision, word or action, might have changed their life. One thing is certain, the past is written in stone and can never be changed, but the future offers promise and hope. Lucy Jarrett having spent the past ten years working in exotic places like Jakarta and Japan, now unemployed and restless, decides to return home to The Lake of Dreams. Unsettled by the changes in her mother and childhood home, haunted by memories of her father's untimely death and being reaquainted with old friends and family, Lucy begins to question the choices she's made and the direction of her life. Obsessed by the discovery that her great grandfather had a sister that seems to have been written out of her family's history, Lucy begins searching for the mysterious Rose and her illegitimate daughter Iris. The story of Rose, told through letters written to her daughter but never sent, and her journey from a poor, helpless young girl in England, to her belief in the suffragette movement in New York forcing her to give up her daughter, gives Lucy the insight and courage to let go of the past and begin moving forward to a full and rewarding future. This book takes you to the beaches of Jakarta, the mountains of Japan, the lakes and rural countryside of The Lake of Dreams, New York and to a small Chapel that teaches the importance of women during the time of Christ through it's beautiful and intiguing stain glass windows.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 25, 2011


    Dont waste your time. 13 dollars is WAY too much money for such a shoddy book.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 25, 2011

    Not your Memory Keeper's Daughter

    I was so looking forward to Kim Edward's next novel and was sorely disappointed. The characters just did not have the depth needed to empathize with their issues. The main character, Lucy, got on my nerves and I found the circumstances of her research, while plausible, unrealistic that she was able to uncover everything in a matter of a week. Hope Edwards' next endeavor is better.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 8, 2014

    i loved this story...complex enough to keep me interested with m

    i loved this story...complex enough to keep me interested with many back stories that i enjoyed having grown up in the southern tier of new york and being a stained glass artist.  i enjoyed the references to doug's fish fry (yum!) and the local hot spots.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 1, 2013

    Don't quite understand the lukewarm ratings of others here...thi

    Don't quite understand the lukewarm ratings of others here...this has become one of my all-time favorite books. Lovely, mesmerizing use of the English language.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2013

    Poorly written, unbelievable, too many details at some points an

    Poorly written, unbelievable, too many details at some points and not enough at others. Hated this book enough that I really struggled to finish it!!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2013

    The book stunk

    It really was bad

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 5, 2013

    I was given this book and I was not sure how I felt about it wit

    I was given this book and I was not sure how I felt about it with a 3 star rating. I was not overly impressed with The Memory Keeper's Daughter, but I didn't think it was horrible, so I read this book as well. I do like The Lake of Dreams more than Kim's first novel. It took a while before I actually got hooked into this story (about half way through reading it). I am from Rochester, NY and I love when a book is written about Western NY! I like the way it ended and I even shed a tear. I am going to recommend it to my reader friends and family because overall I thought it was a "good" novel. And from reading this novel, I would like to educate myself with the women's rights movement. Happy Reading!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2012

    Loved it

    Good read

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2012

    Very enjoyable

    a great book club recommendation

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2012


    Go to the next result. That is my den.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 24, 2012

    Good summer reading; a liesurely escape from the day in and day out

    "Lake of Dreams" started slowly and the character development seemed a little tedious, but finally the story picked up and wove a good tale around some unexpected turns that kept my attention throughout. Overall, a good story with a sometimes NOT predictable end. Wasn't quite sure where it would really go.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 182 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)