Lost Lake

( 124 )


Now a New York Times Bestseller


From the author of the beloved bestseller Garden Spells comes a beautiful, haunting story of old loves and new, and the power of the connections that bind us forever…

The first time Eby Pim saw Lost Lake, it was on a picture postcard. Just an old photo and a few words on a small square of heavy stock, but when she saw it, she knew she was seeing her future....

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Now a New York Times Bestseller


From the author of the beloved bestseller Garden Spells comes a beautiful, haunting story of old loves and new, and the power of the connections that bind us forever…

The first time Eby Pim saw Lost Lake, it was on a picture postcard. Just an old photo and a few words on a small square of heavy stock, but when she saw it, she knew she was seeing her future.

That was half a life ago. Now Lost Lake is about to slip into Eby’s past. Her husband George is long passed. Most of her demanding extended family are gone. All that’s left is a once-charming collection of lakeside cabins succumbing to the Southern Georgia heat and damp, and an assortment of faithful misfits drawn back to Lost Lake year after year by their own unspoken dreams and desires.

It’s a lot, but not enough to keep Eby from relinquishing  Lost Lake to a developer with cash in hand, and calling this her final summer at the lake. Until one last chance at family knocks on her door.

Lost Lake is where Kate Pheris spent her last best summer at the age of twelve,  before she learned of loneliness, and heartbreak, and loss. Now she’s all too familiar with those things, but she knows about hope too, thanks to her resilient daughter Devin, and her own willingness to start moving forward. Perhaps at Lost Lake her little girl can cling to her own childhood for just a little longer… and maybe Kate herself can rediscover something that slipped through her fingers so long ago.

One after another, people find their way to Lost Lake, looking for something that they weren’t sure they needed in the first place:  love, closure, a second chance, peace, a mystery solved, a heart mended.  Can they find what they need before it’s too late? 

At once atmospheric and enchanting, Lost Lake shows Sarah Addison Allen at her finest, illuminating the secret longings and the everyday magic that wait to be discovered in the unlikeliest of places.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Allen’s (Garden Spells) atmospheric fifth novel, a widow and her daughter find healing at a quirky summer resort. For the year following her husband’s sudden death, Kate Pheris sleepwalked through life, barely able to care for her eight-year-old daughter, Devin. Kate’s overbearing mother-in-law, Cricket, stepped in, selling Kate’s house and arranging for Kate and Devin to come live with her. On moving day, Kate unearths a postcard from Lost Lake, a resort in Suley, Ga., where her great-aunt Eby owned a group of rental cabins. More than that, it was where Kate spent her “last best summer.” Finding the postcard wakes her up. On a whim, Kate decides to take a detour to Suley with Devin, having no idea whether Eby and the cabins will even still be there. They are—Eby’s decided to open the cabins for a handful of her regulars for one final summer before selling to a real estate developer. Kate and Devin are immediately taken with Lost Lake and Eby’s guests, an assortment of oddballs and misfits. When a magical alligator directs Devin to a treasure box submerged in the lake, it sets off a chain of events that uncovers 15-year-old secrets and cements Kate and Devin’s ties to the resort. The overused family business–versus-developers trope doesn’t particularly add to the story, and Allen’s trademark mystical touches are not as effective as usual, but her eccentric cast of characters and charming Southern setting will win readers over. Announced first printing of 125,000. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
Praise for Lost Lake:


“You will love going to Lost Lake with Sarah Addison Allen and meeting all the fascinating characters who live there. This book is filled with mystery, magic, and wonderful surprises!” —Fannie Flagg


Lost Lake is a love note to second chances, hopeful and entrancing, and I couldn’t put it down.” —Joshilyn Jackson

"This endearing tale just may be Allen's wisest work yet." —Booklist (starred review)

"Readers will want to release their cares and woes for full immersion in this novel's magical setting." —Library Journal

"Light, sweet and sparkly." —Kirkus

"All of the magic of Allen's previous books is present in this latest treasure, a feast of words. The author has the ability to capture the soul of her characters and make them relatable to every reader. This is a story of love, loss, grief, and starting over—it is truly a treat to be savored." —RT Book Reviews


Praise for Sarah Addison Allen's Novels:


“Sarah Addison Allen writes tantalizing fiction.” —The Roanoke Times


“Allen has a fairy-tale-making genius.” —Asheville Citizen-Times


“Allen will bewitch fans of Alice Hoffman and Laura Esquivel.” —Booklist


Library Journal
A year after her husband's death, Kate emerges from the fog of grief just in time to make one seemingly simple choice that changes everything. Upon finding a decades-old postcard from her Great Aunt Eby hidden in the attic, Kate and her eight-year-old daughter Devin leave the confines of Atlanta to explore Lost Lake in Suley, GA, and oh the adventures they have! A collection of quirky characters, all with wisdom to share, bring this story to life, and none shy away from the chance for even greater personal growth. But the star of this show might be its geographical sweet spot. Soon after the first page, readers will want to release their cares and woes for full immersion in this novel's magical setting. Who wouldn't want to spend time in one of the relaxing cabins, dine by the lake, and enjoy the unique fellowship found around this campsite? VERDICT A favorite author (Garden Spells; The Peach Keeper) has returned with a solid novel that reads so quickly it will leave fans wishing for more, more, more! [See Prepub Alert, 8/5/13; 125,000-copy first printing; library marketing.]—Stacey Hayman, Rocky River P.L., OH
Kirkus Reviews
Old wrongs are righted for a motley community of Southerners in this latest, semienchanted novel by Allen (The Peach Keeper, 2011, etc.). A year after her husband dies, Kate Pheris wakes up. She was still functioning for that year, still caring for her 8-year-old daughter, Devin, but she was not herself. Shedding her year of slumber, Kate realizes that she has allowed her calculating mother-in-law to take over her and Devin's lives--not a good thing for two free spirits--so they flee to Lost Lake in rural Georgia, the place Kate had her "last best summer" when she was 12. Lost Lake is owned by Kate's great-aunt Eby, one of the few women wise enough to escape their family curse: marrying poor men then falling apart completely when the men die young. Eby lived a long, happy life running the modest resort with her husband, George, but George passed away, and now Eby plans to sell the property and move on, much to the chagrin of her few remaining regulars and her best friend and resort cook, Lisette. All gather to celebrate one last summer with Eby, secretly hoping to convince her not to sell. Along the way, we get back stories of the patrons: Bulahdeen, old and plainspoken; Selma, the man-eater looking for her eighth husband; Jack, who is in love with Lisette; and Wes, the boy Kate spent her last best summer with, now grown. Tragic pasts abound--the body count alone is impressive--and each lakegoer is haunted to a different extent. It's clear from the beginning that healing is on the horizon for everyone. Light, sweet and sparkly.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781469222035
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Publication date: 1/28/2014
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Sarah Addison Allen

SARAH ADDISON ALLEN is the New York Times bestselling author of Garden Spells, The Sugar Queen, The Girl Who Chased the Moon, and The Peach Keeper. She was born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina.


North Carolina novelist Sarah Addison Allen brings the full flavor of her southern upbringing to bear on her fiction -- a captivating blend of fairy tale magic, heartwarming romance, and small-town sensibility.

Born and raised in Asheville, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Allen grew up with a love of books and an appreciation of good food (she credits her journalist father for the former and her mother, a fabulous cook, for the latter). In college, she majored in literature -- because, as she puts it, "I thought it was amazing that I could get a diploma just for reading fiction. It was like being able to major in eating chocolate."

After graduation in 1994, Allen began writing seriously. She sold a few stories and penned romances for Harlequin under the pen name Katie Gallagher; but her big break occurred in 2007 with the publication of her first mainstream novel, Garden Spells, a modern-day fairy tale about an enchanted apple tree and the family of North Carolina women who tend it. Booklist called Allen's accomplished debut "spellbindingly charming," and the novel became a BookSense pick and a Barnes & Noble Recommends selection.

Since then, Allen has continued to serve heaping helpings of the fantastic and the familiar in fiction she describes as "Southern-fried magic realism." Clearly, it's a recipe readers are happy to eat up as fast as she can dish it out.

Good To Know

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Allen:

"I love food. The comforting and sensual nature of food always seems to find its way into what I write. Garden Spells involves edible flowers. My book out in 2008 involves southern and rural candies. Book three, barbeque. But, you know what? I'm a horrible cook."

"In college I worked for a catalog company, taking orders over the phone. Occasionally celebrities would call in their own orders. My brush with celebrity? I took Bob Barker's order."

"I was a Star Wars fanatic when I was a kid. I have the closet full of memorabilia to prove it -- action figures, trading cards, comic books, notebooks with ‘Mrs. Mark Hamill' written all over the pages. I can't believe I just admitted that."

"While I was writing this, a hummingbird came to check out the trumpet vine outside my open window. I stopped typing and sat very still, mesmerized, my hands frozen on the keys, until it flew away. I looked back to my computer and ten minutes had passed in a flash."

"I love being a writer."

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Read an Excerpt





Atlanta, Georgia Present day


“Wake up, Kate!”

And, exactly one year to the day that she fell asleep, Kate finally did.

She opened her eyes slowly and saw that a pale lavender moth had come to a rest on the back of her hand. She watched it from her pillow, wondering if it was real. It reminded her of her husband Matt’s favorite T-shirt, which she’d hidden in a bag of sewing, unable to throw it away. It had a large faded moth on the front, the logo of a cover band out of Athens called the Mothballs.

That T-shirt, that moth, always brought back a strange memory of when she was a child. She used to draw tattoos of butterflies on her arms with Magic Markers. She would give them names, talk to them, carefully fill in their colors when they started to fade. When the time came that they wanted to be set free, she would blow on them and they would come to life, peeling away from her skin and flying away.

She’d always been a little different as a child, that strange girl who kept her imaginary friends well past the age of most children, the child people called a free spirit in a way meant to console her parents, as if, like a lisp, she would hopefully outgrow it. Her parents hadn’t minded, though. As long as they’d had each other, they’d let Kate be as free as she wanted.

Kate thought about blowing on the lavender moth, to see what would happen, but before she could, her mother-in-law walked into her bedroom with a cup of coffee and a brisk, “Good morning!” When Kate looked again, the moth was gone. She sat up as Cricket threw open the curtains and said, “It’s the big day. The movers are coming.”

Kate felt vaguely panicked, like she was shaking off a nightmare she couldn’t fully remember. “Movers?”

Cricket snapped her fingers in front of Kate’s face as she handed Kate the cup of coffee. “Yes, movers. You’re moving into my house today. Did you take something to help you sleep last night?”

She hadn’t dreamed this. It was real. She looked to the left side of the mattress. Matt wasn’t there. She could have sworn she’d heard his voice, heard someone’s voice. “No. I don’t take anything. You know that.”

“You’re cranky this morning,” Cricket said. “It’s a good thing I got here early. I got Devin up and dressed and fixed her breakfast.”

“Devin’s up? This is the first day of summer vacation,” Kate said. “She’s never up this early on vacation.”

“I think it’s best to keep her on a schedule. It makes going back to school in the fall so much easier, don’t you think? She’s in the attic. You’ll keep an eye on her, won’t you?”

Kate could feel a strange heat along the back of her neck, something she hadn’t felt in a while. It was almost exotic, like tasting turmeric or saffron after a year of eating pudding. There was a bite to it.

She was annoyed.

She was finally awake and annoyed. Of course she would keep an eye on Devin. For the past year she’d made Devin dinner and attended school plays and chaperoned field trips and taken her to the eye doctor. She’d been sleepwalking, but still, she’d done it. Cricket had no reason to distrust Kate’s ability to mother her own child.

Except for that one time.

There would always be that one time.

“It’s such a mess up there,” Cricket said, clicking around the bedroom in her Louboutin shoes, her smart black suit, and big immovable southern hair. She checked the closet for leftover clothes, to make sure Kate had packed everything. “I thought I told you to go through the things in the attic and put what you wanted in the living room. Otherwise, it’s just going to be left behind for the new owners to deal with. It’s probably for the best not to let Devin take all those old clothes with her. We’ll never get her out of them in the fall. I found her school uniform in the trash can this morning!”

Kate put the cup of coffee on the floor beside the bed. Every day for a year Cricket had come by to take Devin to her new school, and she always made coffee while she was here, horrible, tar-black coffee that Kate hated. Kate didn’t want to drink it anymore. It was such a small thing, to put the cup aside and not drink it, but as she watched Cricket’s eyes take in the movement, Kate felt a small thrill from this first real act of rebellion since she’d gone to sleep a year ago. “I’ve always told her she could wear whatever she wanted in the summer.”

“We both know that’s not a good idea, especially now that she’s moving into my neighborhood.”

“Matt agreed with me,” Kate said, his name unfamiliar on her tongue now, and it felt like saying something unspeakable, a curse.

Cricket turned away at the mention of her son’s name. She didn’t like to talk of him. Ever. She was holding him inside, captive within her rib cage, not willing to share her grief with anyone else. Not even with Kate, who wanted so badly to find pieces of affection for Matt in his mother, to be consoled in some way. “You’ve let her get away with too much over the years. You’re getting up now, aren’t you? Because the movers will be here at noon. I can probably leave work around three. You know I’d be here to help if it weren’t for that big closing today. I’ll see you at my house later this afternoon. Everything should go smoothly. I left a list. You’re getting up now, aren’t you?” she asked again.

Kate slowly stood, as if testing her balance. It felt strange. Her muscles felt weak.

Cricket turned in the doorway and stared at Kate. Kate had no idea what she was thinking. She never did. She was as unreadable as a lost language. “Are you excited about coming to work in my office? We’ll get your hair trimmed tomorrow. Would you like that?”

Kate put her hand to her hair and felt a year’s worth of choppy growth framing her face.

It had been exactly one year since Kate had picked up those scissors in the bathroom, after locking herself in after Matt’s funeral. She’d stared at them, the stainless steel winking in the noon light, and she’d thought things she’d never known she was capable of thinking—dark, unforgivable things. But when she’d lifted the scissors, she instead took her grief and frustration out on her long brown hair. With every snip of the scissors, clumps of her hair had fallen, and she’d watched them turn into tiny birds that cawed and flew around her, swarming in a heavy circle.

Matt had loved her hair, and she’d worn it long just for him. Kate had lived for the times when, as she was doing the books at the shop, Matt would casually walk by and slide the pencil holding up her hair, just to watch it cascade down her back. When they’d made love, he’d liked her on top, with her hair falling down around him, sticking to his skin.

Hours later, Cricket had found her on the bathroom floor. Cricket had gone to her knees in surprise, and Kate had cried, holding on to Cricket so tightly she was sure she’d left bruises. Cricket had helped Kate clean up the places where she’d nicked her scalp, and trimmed what she could so Kate wouldn’t scare Devin. Cricket had made light of it for Devin, telling her that Kate just needed a hairstyle that was easier to take care of.

That had been the last day she’d been awake.

Until now.

Cricket was waiting for her to answer.

“Yes,” Kate said. “Thank you, Cricket. For everything.”

“I’ll see you soon,” she said, then turned to go. “I have big plans to tell you about.”

Kate listened to the sound of Cricket’s heels as she walked down the hallway.

The opening and closing of the front door.

The sound of Cricket’s car pulling out of the driveway.

Kate then hurried out of her room, trying to blink away the sleep and disorientation. My God, she thought, this is really happening. She went to the closet down the hall, where the folding stairs had already been pulled from the ceiling.

She climbed the ladder and emerged into the light from the single window in the attic. Dust motes floated around her like ash. Her eight-year-old daughter was humming as she plowed through the detritus of a large black trunk whose hinges were red with rust and the faded word MARILEE was stamped in gold on the lid.

Devin had grown in the year Kate had been asleep, grown in ways Kate was just now seeing. Her face was fuller, her legs were longer. Kate wanted to run to her and hold her, but Devin would think she was crazy. Devin had seen Kate just last night, when Kate had tucked her into bed. It hadn’t been a year for her. Devin didn’t know Kate had been asleep all this time.

So Kate just stood there and drank in the sight of her. Devin was the most gorgeous, unique creature Kate had ever known. She’d come out of the womb an individual, refusing to be defined by anyone. She didn’t even look like anyone on either side of their families. Matt’s family was so proud of their dark hair, a blue-black that had been the envy of generations, the way it caught the sun like a spiderweb. From Kate’s own side of the family, there was a gene that made their eyes so green that they could trick people into thinking that even the most unattractive Morris woman was pretty. And yet here was Devin, with fine cotton-yellow hair and light blue eyes, the left of which was a lazy eye. She’d had to wear an eye patch when she was three. And she’d loved it. She loved her knotted yellow hair. She loved wearing stripes with polka dots, and tutus, and pink and green socks with orange patent-leather shoes. Devin could care less what other people thought about her.

And that drove Cricket crazy.

How had Kate let this happen? How had she gotten to the point where she was slowly turning over control to the one person who wanted to change her daughter from the glorious thing she was? The very thing Kate used to be, that she used to be so proud of being? Kate swallowed before she felt she had the voice to say, “Hey, kiddo. What are you doing?”

Devin looked over her shoulder with a smile. “Mom! Look. This one is my favorite,” Devin said, pulling out a faded pink dress with a red plaid sash. The crinoline petticoat underneath was so old and stiff it made snapping sounds, like beads or fire embers. She dropped the dress over her head, over her clothes. It brushed the floor. “When I’m old enough for it to fit me, I’m going to wear it with purple shoes,” she said.

“A bold choice,” Kate said as Devin dove back into the trunk. The attic in Kate’s mother’s house had always fascinated Devin with its promise of hidden treasures. When Kate’s mother had been alive, she had let Devin eat Baby Ruth candy bars and drink grape soda and play in this old trunk full of dresses that generations of Morris women had worn to try entice rich men to marry them. Most of the clothes had belonged to Kate’s grandmother Marilee, a renowned beauty who, like all the rest, had fallen in love with a poor man instead.

“Who is Eby Pim?” Devin suddenly asked.

“Eby?” Kate walked over Devin, measuring her steps, trying not to seem too eager. Devin had climbed inside the large trunk. The only part of her visible was the vintage green cap she was now wearing. It had a long dramatic feather pinned to it, and as she moved her head, the feather wrote invisible letters in the air. Kate sat on the floor beside the trunk, as close as she could. “Eby was Grandmother Marilee’s sister. My great-aunt. Your great-great-aunt. I only met her once, but I thought she was wonderful. Different. A little scandalous.”

“What did she do?”

“Eby married a man with money, and her family expected her to share all that money with them,” Kate said. “But when they came back from their honeymoon, Eby and her husband suddenly decided to give all their money away. They sold their home in Atlanta and bought some swamp property down south. No one saw them for years and years. I was twelve the only time I met her. My mom and dad and I went to visit Eby after her husband died. There was a magical lake there where they’d made a living renting out cabins. I think that was probably the last best summer I ever had.”

“Can we go there?”

Her voice was small as it came from the trunk. It made Kate close her eyes with emotion. “I don’t know if it’s still there. It was a long time ago. What made you ask about her?” Kate asked. “Is there something of hers in there?”

Devin’s hand appeared from the trunk, holding an old postcard. “Just this postcard. It’s addressed to you.”

Kate took it. On one side were the vintage bubble words LOST LAKE, each letter large enough for a lake image to fit inside it.

Kate turned the card over. It was postmarked fifteen years ago, the last time Kate had seen Eby.

Kate, I know you enjoyed yourself here and didn’t want to leave. You’re welcome to come back anytime you’d like. I just wanted you to know. Love, Eby Pim

It was the first time Kate had ever seen this. Her mother had never given it to her. She knew her mother and Eby had had a falling out that summer, but Kate never knew Eby had tried to contact her.

Devin got out of the trunk and started putting the dresses back in it. Some were so old that light shone through them, like ghost clothes. “Can we take this trunk when we move in with Grandma Cricket?” Devin asked, taking off the hat and dress she was wearing and putting them inside, then slowly closing and latching the lid.

Kate could tell that Cricket had already told Devin no. And that should have been that. Her mother-in-law was going to a great deal of trouble and expense to move Kate and Devin into her home in Buckhead. A year ago, after Matt had been hit and killed while cycling home from work, Cricket had swooped in and had suddenly become a part of their lives in a way she’d never been when Matt was alive. And, in her sleep, Kate had made it so easy for her. She was no match for Cricket’s money, even now, with the sale of this house and Matt’s bike shop in Kate’s bank account—sales overseen by Cricket, who had so smoothly negotiated the deals, it was like she’d put the buyers under a spell. In the back of Kate’s mind rested a very real and persistent fear that Cricket could take Devin, if she really wanted to. She would always have that incident with the scissors as leverage. Kate should consider herself lucky that Cricket was taking her along with Devin, that Cricket was giving her a job answering phones in her real estate office. She should be grateful Cricket was giving them the entire third floor of her house, where Cricket could walk in and check on them anytime she liked, instead of coming all the way here every day to do it.

“Of course we can take the trunk,” Kate said, tucking the postcard into the chest pocket of her wrinkled nightshirt. “We can take anything you want. Help me get it downstairs.”

It wasn’t heavy. But when it slid down the folding stairs, it nicked the floor a little.

They pulled the trunk into the living room, which was piled with boxes, suitcases, and some of their better furniture.

Kate saw Cricket’s list taped to the upright box with Kate’s clothes hung inside. Kate didn’t even glance at the note as they scooted the trunk to the middle of the room. Even if she’d still been asleep, she could have done this without consulting Cricket’s list. It was moving, not rocket science.

She didn’t know that it read:

1. The movers will be here at noon. Do not ride with them. Do not let Devin ride with them.

2. Wait exactly thirty minutes. Then drive to my house. Don’t wear anything fancy or put on makeup. It might help to look a little sad. I want Devin to wear exactly what she has on.

3. This is very important. There will be a film crew waiting at my house. They want to record your first day as you move in. Just act natural. They didn’t want me to tell you so it would look authentic, but I was afraid you might go off and do something and not stick to the schedule if you didn’t know. This is very important! I’ll explain everything when I get there.

Cricket Pheris micro-managed everything. As locally famous as she was, not many people knew that about her. She’d built her career on her supposed ability to go with the flow, to weather any storm. The truth was, Cricket didn’t weather anything. She controlled storms. And it had given her a reputation as a quiet kingmaker. She was the perfect combination of good taste and political ambition, but whenever she was approached to run for office, she always graciously demurred, happy behind the scenes. She’d been known to increase the numbers for any given candidate just by putting his or her campaign poster on the same lawn as her real estate sign. And all because, fifteen years ago, after Cricket’s husband died, she’d single-handedly turned her real estate agency into the biggest in the state with a series of extremely successful commercials that had even garnered national attention. The commercials had chronicled the selling of the house where Cricket and her husband and her son, Matt, had all once lived together, and the search for a new house for just Cricket and Matt. We know about moving on. That had been the phrase that had ended each commercial. Cricket had come across as likable and competent, but also sensitive and grieving. But it had been Matt who’d stolen the show. He’d been a beautiful child with a remarkable face that had been made for television—peachy skin and big sad brown eyes. There had been something about him that had made everyone who’d watched him root for him. Everyone had wanted him to find his home.

Matt had later told Kate that he had hated those commercials. Cricket had scripted them entirely. They had made them look close, but Cricket had worked fifteen-hour days, and Matt had essentially grown up without her.

When Kate had first met Matt, they’d both been freshman at Emory. She’d been close to flunking out. She hadn’t made friends easily, and she’d spent most of her class time staring out windows, imagining herself in some far-off place. She’d gotten so good at it that she could actually turn soft to the touch and wispy like a cloud as she sat there, and all it would have taken to send her away was one good gust of air.

She hadn’t known it at the time, but Matt had watched her daydream in class. It had been the first thing he’d noticed about her, the first thing that had attracted him to her. She’d wanted to disappear almost as much as he had. She’d known who he was, of course. But she’d never dreamed she would ever catch his attention. She’d grown up watching those commercials. She, like everyone else in the greater Atlanta area, had wanted this sweet, beautiful kid to find where he belonged.

Kate and Matt had been only nineteen when Kate had gotten pregnant, and Cricket had been so upset with her son for dropping out of college and marrying Kate, whom she believed came from a family of notorious gold diggers, that she’d refused to speak to him and withdrew all of her financial support. Cricket had had big plans for Matt. If she always backed a winner, imagine what she could have done if her own son had gotten into politics. That face. He had that perfect face.

But Matt had had no interest in running for public office. He’d been shy and uncomfortable around people. After they married, Kate and Matt had moved in with Kate’s mother, into this house, because Kate’s mother had been convinced that Cricket would forgive Matt in time, and then all that money would be Matt and Kate’s to share with her. Cricket had been wrong about a lot of things, but Kate’s mother’s obsession with money had not been one of them.

Kate’s mother had died of a sudden stroke two years later, never having seen her dreams of wealth for her daughter realized. That was when Cricket started making halfhearted attempts at reconciliation, but it was too late. Matt had cut ties with her and didn’t want them mended.

Kate and Matt had spent seven years here together in this small house, raising Devin, starting a bicycle shop called Pheris Wheels with the small trust from his father. This was the life Matt had chosen, the one that had brought him as close to content as he’d ever been, doing what he’d wanted in an anonymous existence that he considered bohemian. Plain old middle class to the rest of the world. But as Kate looked around at their belongings, there was nothing of Matt’s here. The furniture had all been her mother’s. He’d moved into her world, part and parcel, but added nothing of himself.

Kate sat on the trunk, and Devin pulled herself up and sat close to her.

“It’s going to be all right,” Kate said. “You know that, don’t you?”

Devin nodded as she took off her black glasses, the ones Cricket liked, and cleaned them on the J.Crew T-shirt Cricket had picked out for her to wear.

“I’ll talk to Cricket about your clothes. Your dad and I always said you could wear what you wanted on summer vacation. Cricket is just going to have to deal with it.”

“What about school?” Devin asked. This was a familiar argument. Devin hated her school uniform. The idea of being in uniform at all offended her. But in the year she’d been asleep, Kate had agreed to let Cricket enroll Devin in the same private school Matt had attended.

“The school requires a uniform, you know that.”

“Can’t I go back to my old school?”

Kate hesitated. “I’ll talk to Cricket. But it’s a good school. And your dad went there.” Kate put her arm around Devin, and the movement drew her attention to the postcard in her chest pocket.

Kate took out the postcard, and she and Devin both stared at it as if new words might form on it, telling their fortune. Kate’s mother had kept this from her for reasons Kate might never know. When she looked at the card, she experienced that same small sensation of rebellion she’d felt when she’d put aside Cricket’s coffee earlier. Her mother hadn’t wanted her to be in touch with Eby. Her mother hadn’t wanted her to go back to Lost Lake.

That in itself was reason enough to go.


The word came to her mind before she could stop it.

“You know,” Kate said, “Lost Lake is only three or four hours away. At least, it was.”

Devin looked up at her slowly, suspiciously, like there was trickery afoot. It almost made Kate laugh.

“It might be shut down. Eby might not be there. But we could go see. Just you and me.” Kate nudged her. “What do you say? We don’t have to be here when all this stuff is moved.”

“Like a vacation?”

“I don’t know what it will be,” Kate said honestly. “If there’s nothing there, well, we’ll just turn around and come back to our new place. But if it’s still there, maybe we can stay for the night. Maybe two. We won’t know until we get there.”

“Do we have to ask Grandma Cricket?”

“No. This is between you and me. Go change out of those clothes and into what you want to wear. We’ll throw some things into the car and head out.”

Devin tore off down the hall, but then stopped and ran back and hugged Kate.

“I’ve missed you,” she said, then ran away again, leaving Kate standing there, shocked.

Kate didn’t think anyone knew.

But Devin did.

She knew Kate had been asleep all this time.


Copyright © 2014 by Sarah Addison Allen

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 124 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 124 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 21, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Kate Pheris not only lost her husband but her sense of time beca

    Kate Pheris not only lost her husband but her sense of time because all of a sudden a year has passed since his death and she finds herself without knowing why or how on a road to a place she doesn’t want to travel to move in with her ultra controlling mother in law Cricket. So when karma comes calling in the form of a never seen postcard from a long lost aunt from a magical summer from Kate’s childhood she decides that she and her daughter Devin need this one last summer of fun and magic where Devin can regain her childhood and to where Kate’s childhood lives, Lost Lake Georgia.
    Devin knows her mom’s finally back from where she went when her dad died, she can’t loose her again, she doesn’t want to live with her grandmother, and when she and her mom finally arrive at Lost Lake it’s like they’ve come home, oh and there’s an Alligator too!
    Eby Pim’s decided to finally sell her beloved Lost Lake resort, that she and her husband George bought many years ago. Things are falling apart, guests aren’t returning and she’s finally ready to let go. Until a whirling dervish of a great great niece and her mother arrive and Eby feels something she hadn’t in a long time, hope.

    Sarah Addison Allen has taken me on some very magical journeys from all her past astounding entrancing adventures and the latest, Lost Lake is no different. She weaves her intricate, multi-faceted web of suspense, secrets, myths and realities. She acquaints us to her cast of cast-offs as she builds her mystical magical world and paints in all the spaces but never quite within the lines with the beautiful Technicolor of her narrative. Her characters are all a delight from her main protagonist Kate who’s charmingly innocent, to Devin who’s older and wiser than her years to Eby, the guests and the residents of town to her purely fantastical Alligator. I implore you to take a chance if you haven’t read Sarah, if you believe in magic she will speak to your inner child and open you up to possibilities that our adult psyches won’t allow.
    Sarah thank you once again, especially now for still believing in magic after all you’ve been through in your personal life and for sharing that magic with us.

    18 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2014


    Magical. If you are looking for love and laughs, family and friendships this is the perfect book.

    12 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 26, 2014

    I want to start this review by saying I have loved Sarah Addison

    I want to start this review by saying I have loved Sarah Addison Allen as an author since I read Garden Spells . It was so beautiful and different, that I knew I had to get my hands on every book she has written and I have. While waiting for this book to come out, I learned that the delay was due to the fact that the author was battling a very serious health problem and my heart absolutely ached for her. I was so happy to read in the acknowledgements section of this book that she has just reached two years with clear scans. My thoughts and prayers will continue to go out to this author.

    Now, for my review of this book...it was just as magical and all-consuming as her prior books. There is just something about Allen's writing that makes you want to climb into the book to spend time with her characters. I was so excited when I got this book, I had to read it in a single sitting. The book begins in the 1960's, which briefly introduces us to newlyweds, George and Eby, and their adventurous honeymoon in Paris. We then flash forward to the present day, where Eby's great-niece, Kate, is "waking up" after a year of being asleep. No, she wasn't in a coma, this is where the magic of Allen's writing comes into play. We learn about this very strange family, relative by relative, to learn about a certain family curse. Now is it a real curse, I don't get that feeling. But the author writes in a way that makes you realize it is always your choice to be happy and move forward after great loss. There is a wonderful line in the book that says something to the effect of "if you are too busy mourning what your empty cup, you will miss the opportunity to fill it again". I am paraphrasing, but I found that line extremely striking. The magic in this book is more subtle than in prior books, but I felt that it fit the story well. This is ultimately a book about finding your strength and moving forward with the support of friends and family and taking care of each other. I wish Lost Lake was a real place to go...it sounds like a magical place full of peace and healing. Sarah Addison Allen knocked it out of the park again for me and I cannot wait to see what she does next. If you have never read this author before, do yourself a favor and read all of her books.

    I received a copy of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 24, 2014

    I love Sarah's books -- her writing, the way she explores relati

    I love Sarah's books -- her writing, the way she explores relationships, the peak into Southern living, and that little bit of magic her readers have come to expect. If you're a fan, you won't be disappointed.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted January 26, 2014

    This just the kind of book to take away the winter doldrums!

    This just the kind of book to take away the winter doldrums!

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 25, 2014

    Arc provided by St. Martin's Press through Netgalley It's a tru

    Arc provided by St. Martin's Press through Netgalley

    It's a truth universally known that i love Sarah Addison Allen writing style. I love the voice she gives to her stories, the way her characters are crafted and, basically the way she creates the most vividly real scenarios.
    She's definitely a word painter. She uses earth tones to do it, but then all of a sudden she sprinkles her canvas with fairy dust and enchanting elements that just leave me well and truly hooked. (This just baffles my rational self...)
    This was no exception...although it's definitely more melancholic, quieter and, basically more grounded in the everyday life than some of her previous works.
    This is a story about grief. About grieving. How it can take over your life, if you let it.
    The Morris women know all about it. Apparently it's their curse.
    This part immediately made me think about Practical Magic. The book written by Alice Hoffman (yes, i know i'm always talking about it, but if you read it, you'll understand why. So...just go read it.), and later on adapted to the movies. Do you remember how it starts?
    In this story, something bad happens to Kate, and for awhile she just shuts down...until the day she wakes up to life again.
    After that, it's Kate and her daughter Devin, trying to find another place for them in the world.
    The grief in this book, is the type of one, that almost makes people stop living. 
    There's also people haunted by their past mistakes, that won't let go of their ghosts.
    Friends as only the author knows how to write, determined to never let go, no matter what.
    People who insist on not being happy. A boy and a girl who may even be perfect for one another, and a lot more.
    Yes, a lot more...
    I've been extremely undecided about this book rating.
    Did i liked it?
    Of course i did! I don't think the author will ever be capable of writing a book i'll actively dislike!

    Was this book everything i wanted, and more?
    Humm...not quite. Due to the theme of the book, this story was definitely more toned down on the magic, and romance department.
    But even so, i was at all times engaged in the story.

    The problem is that the author created such amazing books in the past, that i'm betting it's getting harder living to the standard.
    Maybe my biggest problem with this story, is in regard to the way it ends. 
    Now, don't be scared, nothing wrong happens!
    It's just that i found myself wanting more of the characters!!

    I wanted to see them fighting for what they wanted! 
    I wanted "more" from Wes and Kate. More feelings, more emotion! Even if it was just directed at a promise, of something to come...one day.
    It was frustrating that most of the characters didn't have a quarter of life in them when compared to Devin, an eight year old child.
    Maybe i would have wanted to see Eby sending a postcard from one of her journeys....as a sign of changes.
    Selma...i liked her. She wasn't someone easy to like. She broke the pattern...
    Maybe in the future we will get some short story from her pov, regarding her friendship with Bulahdeen.
    Of course by then , hopefully she will be widowed...or divorced. (NO, i'm not being mean! Read it, and see for yourself!!)
    Now, due to all of the things that <i>that</i>
    idiot Lazarus never did, regarding his nephew, sorry, but i'll be hoping for the first case scenario....
    To conclude, let me just say, that even though this wasn't my favorite story, i will still be buying this book, and occasionally re-reading it.
    Because i liked it.
    P.S- LOVE the cover!!
    Even though now, after reading the story i finally understand the reason of that first cover with the crocodile, i don't care! I fell in love with this one!


    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 24, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I am a huge fan of SAA's books and this one is no exception.  Sh

    I am a huge fan of SAA's books and this one is no exception.  She has an amazing way of pulling you into a magical story with interesting, unique yet relateable characters.  I always feel uplifted and joyful when I've finished one of her books.  Here's to never giving up on your biggest, wildest most heart-felt dreams!!  Thank you again for the magic Sarah Addison Allen!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2014



    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2014

    Wonderful read

    This book takes you back to remember your childhood self (or maybe just my summers of dress up and make-believe). Great story but i expected nothing less from Allen. The book is stand alone but Im hoping Allen will revisit these characters in a future book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 26, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    What would you do for a second chance

    Do have regrets? If you can have a second chance would you take it? If you could change the path of your life, would you? Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen is a story about changing the path of your life. We meet Kate, a widow and mother who have been hiding out for the last year since her husband died. She allowed sorrow to swallow her up until one day she woke up to find her life being changed to a life she didn't want her daughter to have. On a whim her and Devin find a postcard from a great aunt who owns Lost Lake. Lost Lake was the last summer of her own childhood where she felt happy, loved and overall a child. She wanted Devin to have the same summer she did.

    Kate's journey is a special one because it is filled with a handful of characters that like all of Sarah Addison Allen books, you fall in love with. Ms. Allen has a special gift to give each character a special part of the story - even if it only a paragraph long. This is a lovely book that you would like to read when your own life has stopped and you have two paths to follow. I would really love to read a sequel to this to see how everyone turns out....though I know they all are doing well.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 6, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I love Sarah Addison Allen's storytelling. The Sugar Queen is a

    I love Sarah Addison Allen's storytelling. The Sugar Queen is a favourite of mine. Although, Addison Allen's newest release, Lost Lake, may just supplant it!

    Kate Pheris has just 'woken up' after a year. Her husband has passed away and she's going through the motions of living for her daughter Devin's sake. Her mother-in-law has been helping her for the past year, but that help has crossed over a line. She's now dictating the direction of Kate and Devin's lives.

    When Devin comes across an old postcard from Kate's Aunt Eby, Kate makes a snap decision to visit Eby at Lost Lake. Kate's happiest summer as a child was spent there.

    But, Kate and Devin's arrival may be too late. Eby has agreed to sell the small resort to a local developer. But perhaps Lost Lake does not want to be sold......

    Lost Lake is filled with rich characters, all with their own back story, all searching for 'something. 'Each one held my interest, but I had a special fondness for Bulahdeen, a woman who has been coming to Lost Lake for thirty years. I must admit, Addison Allen's descriptions of Lost Lake had me wanting to visit, to sit on the dock, to stay in one of the quaint cabins, to get to know Eby and to be part of the circle of Lost Lake.

    Addison Allen weaves together wonderfully warm tales with quirky characters and then slips in a bit of magic when you're not looking. And once you notice the magic, you realize it's quite right that it's in the story. And then you begin to think 'what if'...

    Lost Lake had me hoping 'what if' could truly happen. Lost Lake was another enchanting read from Sarah Addison Allen. I had a quick listen to the audio version as well - I think Janet Metzger does an excellent job bring the characters and story to life.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2014

    I love this story !

    A wonderful simple story with just the right amount of fantasy to be real and reality to be fantastic! Endings can be wonderful in the truest sense of the word.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    Life is what you make it; Never give up the dream; Start anew bo

    Life is what you make it; Never give up the dream; Start anew books are my favorite. Losing a loved one in your life is devastating but once breaking out of the fog, Kate and her daughter take a chance and move on. Creating a new life is what so many people dream of. The trick is making the right choices for one and all. Uplifting and engaging and amazing, interesting characters make a difference.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 4, 2014

    Good read

    I've always enjoyed Allen's books. I enjoy the her use of flashbacks and the unexplainable tendencies her characters have. The ending of this book is somewhat predictable but it is still enjoyable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2014

    Fun easy.read

    I liked reading this book and it remimded me of my fun camp days. Would
    Reccomend it for a easy entertaining read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2014

    Sweet story

    Enjoyable read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 17, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Compelling story I received an advance reader edition of this b

    Compelling story

    I received an advance reader edition of this book from St. Martin's Press and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.

    This book was a solid 4 star read. Sarah Addison Allen definitely knows how to tell a compelling story weaving the past, the present, and a little bit of magic. Grief plays a major role in this book but this is not a sad book. Instead, I found this book to be one of hope.

    The story starts with Kate waking up. Kate is not waking up from a night of sleep but from a year of extreme grief. She basically shut down when her husband was killed and has allowed her mother in law, Cricket to take over. The day that Kate is waking up is in fact also the day that she is scheduled to move into her mother in law's house. Kate's daughter, Devin, finds a postcard just before they are supposed to leave from Kate's great aunt Eby, the owner of Lost Lake. Kate feels drawn to Lost Lake and decides to take her daughter and go right away.

    When she arrives at Eby's resort, she learns that her aunt has agreed to sell Lost Lake. At the resort Kate meets an interesting group of people and learns a few things about her family. She becomes reacquainted with Wes, the boy she met when she visited the resort when she was 12.

    The author has created a story with wonderfully rich characters. I would love to spend a summer at Lost Lake watching Selma work her magic with the men, Devin run around in her tutu and cowboy boots, Bulahdeen planning parties, and Eby taking care of everyone. The way that Kate, Devin, Eby, Cricket, and Wes are dealing with grief was very realistic for me. Each of the characters handled things a bit differently but in an authentic manner. The only thing that the book seemed to be missing for me was a bit of unpredictability. I had a basic idea of what was going to happen in the book early on and there were no surprises.

    I would definitely recommend this book to other readers. It is a great example of magical realism written by a wonderful author.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2014

    Highly Recommend Sarah Addison Allen's latest

    I am a big fan of Sarah Addison Allen's books. The characters always pull you in so that you can't stop reading until you find out what happens to them. This book is no exception.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 14, 2014

    Good read

    This was a lovely book. Great read by one of my favorite authors.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2014

    I Love Addison Allen's books!

    Lost Lake was another magical creation from Sarah Addison Allen. While it wasn't my favorite of her books, it was still wonderful. She is, and will remain, one of my favorite authors.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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