A year back I read The Other Side Of The Bridge by Mary Lawson and fell in love with her succinct but moving prose and her heartfelt and intuitive understanding of human relationships.
Imagine my delight then when I came across another of her novels, Crow Lake, in my favourite second-hand bookshop.
Crow Lake begins when both of seven year old Kate’s parents die in a car accident leaving just her and her younger sister and their two older brothers to survive without the love and protection of their parents. Desperate to remain a family unit they each fiercely fight to stay together.
The novel explores Kate’s turbulent early years as she tries to cope with the loss of her parents and the disarray of her home life. It then switches forward to the future where we find Kate grown up and working at a University. She has being clearly shaped and sculpted by the difficulties of her early years. Emotionally closed off and clearly haunted by regrets and deep-set guilt; Kate struggles to weave her present life into her tightly guarded past.
When her new boyfriend starts applying pressure to meet her family Kate feels the past envelop the future.
Regret, loss, and love seep through the pages. Lawson explores the tragic way we can live our lives, wasting precious time and losing touch with loved ones, because we fail to see truth.
There’s something soothingly simple about the way that Lawson writes. She never fluffs things up with flowery images or excessive language. And yet there is real heart and emotion underneath her words. She picks out the intricacies of complicated family love and acutely focuses in on the painful memories and fears which we all harbour but try to forget.
And yet despite the sombre tone of the book, there is something hopeful and optimistic in the story. There are times when we glimpse tender and touching scenes of real love which add buoyancy to the story.
Towards the end of the novel Kate’s past truly begins to catch up with her present and we share an eye-opening moment with her. Just when I was beginning to think that the story might not be going anyway Lawson added new life and meaning to her book making me smile and wonder at the beautiful message of her story.
I really can’t recommend this book enough, it’s gentle in delivery by poignant in punch. A perfect book to wile away the hours.