Crow Lake

Crow Lake

by Mary Lawson
4.3 52

Hardcover

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Overview

Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

Crow Lake is that rare find, a first novel so quietly assured, so emotionally pitch perfect, you know from the opening page that this is the real thing–a literary experience in which to lose yourself, by an author of immense talent.
Here is a gorgeous, slow-burning story set in the rural “badlands” of northern Ontario, where heartbreak and hardship are mirrored in the landscape. For the farming Pye family, life is a Greek tragedy where the sins of the fathers are visited on the sons, and terrible events occur–offstage.
Centerstage are the Morrisons, whose tragedy looks more immediate if less brutal, but is, in reality, insidious and divisive. Orphaned young, Kate Morrison was her older brother Matt’s protegee, her fascination for pond life fed by his passionate interest in the natural world. Now a zoologist, she can identify organisms under a microscope but seems blind to the state of her own emotional life. And she thinks she’s outgrown her siblings–Luke, Matt, and Bo–who were once her entire world.
In this universal drama of family love and misunderstandings, of resentments harbored and driven underground, Lawson ratchets up the tension with heartbreaking humor and consummate control, continually overturning one’s expectations right to the very end. Tragic, funny, unforgettable, Crow Lake is a quiet tour de force that will catapult Mary Lawson to the forefront of fiction writers today.
From the Hardcover edition.

Author Biography: Mary Lawson was born and brought up in a farming community in Ontario. After graduating from McGill University she went to England for a holiday and stayed on; she lives there still, with her husband and sons, though she returns to Canada every year.
From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780676974799
Publisher: Knopf Canada
Publication date: 02/26/2002
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)

About the Author

Mary Lawson was born and brought up in a farming community in southwestern Ontario. A distant relative of L. M. Montgomery (author of Anne of Green Gables), she moved to England in 1968, and now lives with her husband in Surrey. She returns to Canada every year. Asked on CBC’s This Morning what she misses most about Canada, she says without hesitation that it’s the rocks of the Canadian Shield. England has rocks, she says, but they are not smooth and rounded and “whale-like.”

Lawson is a firm believer in the strength of the influences we receive as children, a theme explored in the book. Lawson’s father was a research chemist for an oil company in Sarnia, Ontario, and the family lived in Blackwell, which was then a small farming community — though not nearly as remote as that of Crow Lake — and spent summers at a cottage up north.

She studied psychology at McGill University in Montreal in the mid-sixties, and says that Montreal was an eye-opening experience after growing up in Blackwell. “We had the radio, but we had no television, and relative to what kids know today … they are just so much more knowledgeable than we were.” She graduated in 1968 and went to England, finding work in a steel-industry research lab in London, which is where she met her husband, Richard.

Published under the “New Face of Fiction” program at age 55, Lawson calls herself a “late starter,” though she began writing when her sons were small. She joined a creative-writing class, which she continues to attend, mainly for the companionship, and she took literature courses to study other writers. She describes the first novel she wrote, which was set in England, as a disaster: though it was a good story with characters and plot, she didn’t know what she wanted to say. “It was a story without a point.”

Then her parents fell ill with cancer, and she spent a lot of time in Canada. She started writing Crow Lake shortly after the double trauma of her parents dying and her sons leaving home. “I was thinking a lot about the passing of time and different types of loss and the importance of family and the significance of childhood. I think you are particularly receptive when you are a kid, and you take in not just the physical landscape, but the society and the culture and what matters to people. And it all just sits there — eventually, if you are a writer, it comes out.”

At length, a short story she wrote in the 1980s for Woman’s Realm magazine in England was transformed into Crow Lake. She sent the manuscript out several times before it found the right agent, who then responded enthusiastically within twenty-four hours. The characters in the novel are entirely invented, with the exception of the baby, Bo, who was modelled closely on her own little sister. She was interested in exploring the brother-sister relationship and the notion that family members establish roles for one another which are hard to break free from (“In my family…I’m the ‘Emoter’,” she notes). In particular, she wanted to look at hero worship and what happens “to the worshipper and to the hero” when the hero fails. While indebted to J. D. Salinger for pointing her towards using children as a subject, and to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird for the technique of writing a book with a child as narrator, Lawson says it was having her own children that taught her that people are born as individuals.

With its powerful emotional resonance, Crow Lake has already won the hearts of many readers, and Lawson’s next novel will be anxiously awaited.

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Crow Lake 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 52 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was 15 below zero and windy outside my house as I sat reading Crow Lake,, and yet Mary Lawson had me laying on my belly, peering into a pond teeming with tadpoles and waterbugs. It was a beautiful story of survival and love of family. I will be first in line when her next book hits the shelves.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the most enjoyable books I have ever read! It was a beautiful, and touching, story about how we view the world and our loved ones in it and how they view themselves. A real thought provoking journey...I fell in love with the characters, felt I knew them and wanted to continue to be a part of their lives. Beautifully written, the descriptions make you feel you are there....
Guest More than 1 year ago
Excellent book! I just could not put it down! I wanted to know more about what happened with Kate and Daniel, her family, etc when I was finished. Definitely a great read for anyone!
thewanderingjew More than 1 year ago
It is a tender tale which begins with the memories of a seven year child after her family suffers a devastating loss and progresses over the next twenty years. We watch as problems, arise and are resolved, often with unintended consequences. It is a tale about overcoming disaster, about not letting anything stand in your way if you want it enough. Poverty, tragedy, loss, all of these, in and of themselves, are not deterrents to success but they often breed ignorance and in some instances even violence. Education is the key to moving forward but love, dedication and responsibility trump all else and provide the courage necessary to surmount all of the obstacles placed before them on life's journey. It is a book about the effect that just one decision, one mistake of judgment, can have on the rest of your life. It is about accepting what has been handed to you and finding peace within those boundaries. It is about discovering truths about yourself. It is about making lemonade when life hands you lemons. It is about rebuilding and repairing relationships and emotional wounds. It is simply, about life, warts and all.
NancyK27 More than 1 year ago
This story is about a family that has to face a terrible tragedy and how much 2 brothers are willing to sacrifice for their sisters. I was very touched by the relationships and the struggles between the siblings and how much they loved each other. The writing flowed nicely and I was interested in the characters and their relationships both as children and adults. This was one of the best books I've read in a long time and am looking forward to reading her newest book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a pleasure to read! It was such a joy I just want to know what happened next....made me think of my own family and the places we 'occupy' and I loved the beautiful descriptions....felt like I was there myself!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the best I've read in recent 'history'. Enjoyed it so much I've chosen it for my upcoming Book Club meeting. Can't wait for her next book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I look to many of BN reviews to discover new books, that is how I came to this one and it was such a treat. I had to reread many sentences because they sounded so lyrical and moving. The author was brillant in her writing style, can't wait for more!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is my all-time favorite book. The prose is so beautifully written you can't put it down. Lawson has a style of writing that catches your attention from the first sentence. I love this book and can't wait for her next!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The age old struggle between what could've been and what is, and between those who move on and those who can't let go. A beautuifully written story of family,a series of bad decisions and a future nobody planned.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I too really enjoyed this book, was sad to see it end, and felt connected to the characters. The love and adoration Kate had for Matt was touching. I expected the family's 'crisis' to be more dramatic, there was tremendous build-up to how the Morrison's 'forever became connected to the Pye family.' Overall, however, I really enjoyed it. The author did a great job capturing the characters' personalities well, especially Bo who I found to be very funny. I couldn't put this book down and would recommend it to anyone who loves reading about the drama within a family.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Crow Lake is an excellent choice for readers who love an indepth look into life's struggles and interpersonal relationships. Unique and memorable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Once I entered the world of Morrisons and Pyes, I couldn't leave until the end. I just finished it and still feel as if I'm a part of their world. Amidst the pain and tribulation there was beauty and love, but Kate just couldn't see it and I feel as if her blindness and resentment broke my heart along with Matt's. I almost feel as if Lawson wrote it specifically to be cheerless because I can't imagine a situation so sad. A phenominal book but probably the saddest I've read in a long time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I literally felt bereft when this book ended and I had to say goodbye to the characters. This book is moving, beautifully written and captures the essence of family. I loved this book so much-I can't stop thinking about the characters and events.
Guest More than 1 year ago
All I can say is that I'm sorry I read it as quickly as I did. An important reminder that one person's values and disappointments are not the same as anothers. As well as a really good read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written, kept my attention all the way through. Wonderful
Anonymous 3 months ago
Enjoyed it since I am from Toronto and reading familiar names brought me back. Wanted it to continue a little while longer to stay with the characters, good story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it from the first sentence.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful book. I read Crow Lake because of the reviews and was not disappointed. This author is a great story teller------
NanceeMarchinowski More than 1 year ago
Crow Lake is a book that will change the way you look at family, and life in general. The Morrison family is broken, gritty, but loyal to a fault. The challenges faced by this family over the years are heart rending, overwhelming, yet credible. The characters in the community are authentic, pragmatic, and represent humanity at its basic level. They rise to the occasion consistently, practicing their generosity as a way of life. There is depth to personalities that transcends the norm. I'm still reeling from this incredibly well-written novel. The undercurrents that are evident throughout the book become the pinnacles that bring the story to a powerful ending. I highly recommend this earthy, poignant, and dynamic book.
Esquite More than 1 year ago
Mary Lawson’s “Crow Lake" is a book bigger than itself.  Reading it provided me with two stunning and brilliant self-revelatory moments. I never thought of the absence of my parents in quite such a way as provided by a single sentence of hers , and I am compelled to consider my long-settled perceptions of others and of the nature of my relationships with them; to think about how correct and appropriate, or how distorted and debilitating, my views may be.  I’ve ordered her two presently extant other books with pleasant anticipation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A slow moving story, one that I could not put down. Great read!
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