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The Lake of Dreams

The Lake of Dreams

3.0 184
by Kim Edwards

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

Donna Rifkind

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

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.)
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

“A satisfying mix of compassion and intrigue.”
Louisville Courier-Journal
“Her latest novel, set in the Finger Lakes region of her native New York, is another tour de force tale that showcases her talent for engaging readers immediately and, her agile prose would argue, effortlessly.”
The Dallas Morning News
“Gorgeously written.... luminously beautiful.”
Good Housekeeping
Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“Edwards' prose is precise and vivid throughout and at times her descriptions positively soar.”
Winnipeg Free Press
The Lake of Dreams is a vivid and beautifully written saga about the powerful way that a family's past can shape its present.”
“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.”
California Literary Review
“Kim Edwards has, in fact, done it again, riveting us to her story”
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
Kirkus Reviews

Family secrets dominate this sluggish melodrama, a second novel that recalls the corrosive secret at the heart of Edwards's surprise bestseller The Memory Keeper's Daughter (2005).

Lucy Jarrett is front and center. When she was 17, she made what she felt was a fateful decision. She harshly dismissed her father's suggestion they go fishing on the lake; he went alone and accidentally drowned. Guilt-stricken, Lucy unceremoniously dumped her Native American boyfriend Keegan and left her hometown, the eponymous Lake of Dreams in upstate New York, to attend college out West. Then came a career as a hydrologist working for multi-nationals and a string of short-lived romances. Now, pushing 30 and unemployed, she's living with her latest lover, the Japanese engineer Yoshi, outside Tokyo. She flies home after hearing her mother has had an accident. It's minor, but Lucy is surrounded by change. Her mother has a new admirer; her uncle Art, who owns the family hardware store, is spearheading a contested lakeside development; and Keegan, married but separated, has a successful glassworks. How curious, then, that amid these upheavals, the jet-lagged Lucy should zero in on the past after discovering some hidden papers. She learns about her great-great-aunt Rose. Back in England in 1910, the 15-year-old had been seduced, impregnated and abandoned by the lord of the manor, that scoundrel. After traveling to America with her brother Joseph, she had been separated from her daughter after marching with suffragettes. All this Lucy learns from letters she has stolen from the Historical Society. Why Lucy should feel a life-changing connection to Rose is never clear; her problem is she's commitment-shy, as shown by her renewed interest in Keegan (forget about Yoshi). The rush of events near the end includes the discovery of an old will, an anguished confession about her dad's boating accident and Lucy's trashing of the family store; being the heroine, she gets a pass.

It's all mush, but the feminist angle may keep the fans loyal.

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)
Age Range:
17 Years

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.

What People are Saying About This

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

Meet the Author

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.

Brief Biography

Lexington, Kentucky
Date of Birth:
May 4, 1958
Place of Birth:
Killeen, Texas
A.A., Cayuga Community College; B.A., Colgate University; M.F.A., Iowa Writers' Workshop; M.A., University of Iowa

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The Lake of Dreams 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 184 reviews.
AndyAC More than 1 year ago
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.
LoveToReadItAll More than 1 year ago
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?
anonymous67 More than 1 year ago
A huge disappoint. Shallow characters, weak plot, choppy writing that needed better editing.
sunnytbear More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
BLUEEYEBE More than 1 year ago
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.
KDavio More than 1 year ago
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
Gertt More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Very interesting and moving.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Loved Memory Keepers Daughter, and really liked this one. Beautifully written.
lotsofpuppies More than 1 year ago
Lucy Jarrett is beginning to question her life with her boyfriend in Japan. When her mother is injured in a car accident, she decides to travel back home to The Lake of Dreams. While getting to know her family and her hometown again, Lucy discovers some documents and beautifully woven lace hidden beneath one of the built-in seats in the attic. Who put these items there, what are their significance, and why were they hidden away for almost 100 years? While Lucy begins to research the history of these documents, she begins to discover that her family's history is far from simple and that the past may come to haunt them all in the future. A very good book! I love family history and this story makes me want to continue researching the lives of those who came before me! I highly recommend The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards.
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Mari-Kate9 More than 1 year ago
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.
DKFrancis More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!!!!
Jennza143 More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
a great book club recommendation
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