Friday, November 1, 2013
Book Review: The Lake House
After I graduated from college and started a full-time job, I decided I also wanted to live someplace other than my parents' house. When my late maternal grandmother was no longer able to live on her own, she moved into an assisted living facility and I moved in to her condo. I was more than familiar with this condo, having spent most of my childhood there. However, the chances of making friends in the building were very slim, as most of the residents were friends of my grandmother's.
Being in my early 20s, I managed to stick out like a sore thumb. Going to association meetings was like watching an episode of Seinfeld. My downstairs neighbor complained that I walked around like an elephant. And my upstairs neighbor tried to claim that the damage to my bathroom ceiling was not her fault. There was one couple down the hall who always made me feel welcome and even helped out when I locked my keys in the car on a freezing winter day. Being the youngest resident in a building full of octogenarians allowed me to relate to how Heather felt in The Lake House by Marci Nault.
Looking to escape from her controlling fiancé, Heather Bregman moves to Nagog, a small beach town in Massachusetts. She's hoping to start fresh, while trying to keep her career afloat. However, she soon discovers that she is the only resident under the age of 70 and that her presence is unwelcome. The only woman who truly understands what she is going through is Victoria Rose, who moved back to Nagog after years living the glamorous Hollywood life. Tragedy brought her home and now she has to face her demons. Some of these demons are her former friends, whom she abandoned when she broke the pact to always stay in Nagog. Both Heather and Victoria will soon have to face truths they weren't expecting and it could either tear them apart, or bring them closer together.
Before I go on, I wanted to share that this story also reminded me of my first move to another state. I thought we had found a good community with people close in age who also had kids close in age to ours. However, it felt like being in junior high all over again with the cliques and bullies. This time around, the bully was a man around our age who wasn't getting his way and tried to take it out on us. Needless to say, we started looking for other communities during the time we lived there and when we eventually found the right one, it was like striking gold. Of course, it meant another interstate move. So I could also relate to the feeling of being unwelcome in a close-knit community. It made me even more sympathetic toward Heather and Victoria as a result. Given they were already interesting and sympathetic characters, this didn't take much effort. It was just a somewhat fortunate coincidence that I knew what they were going through.
Marci Nault's debut novel is highly impressive with her great use of description that made me feel like a movie was unfolding right on the pages. The dialogue was also incredible. Conversations had a way of sounding like what the characters said was beyond Marci's control. She just started a fight between characters and let it flow naturally. Even if she wanted to, she wouldn't be able to rein it in, which added to the realistic feel and intensity of the story. Thus, making for an addictive read. I also felt this way about the connections between the characters. I almost felt like the characters managed their relationships on their own and that Marci was along for the ride, surprising herself with what would happen for them.
In the synopsis on the back cover, we are told that 50 years have passed from the time Victoria left Nagog to the time she returned. However, that doesn't seem to work with the ages of the characters. I don't know what kind of age calculator was used, but I was doing the math in my head and something wasn't adding up right. Victoria should have been younger than she was. There were other parts throughout the story when it was hard to figure out how much time had really passed or what the ages of the characters were. I felt like some parts were glossed over and just snuck up on me all of a sudden. There would be a jump ahead in time every now and then without any announcement. Suddenly, decisions were made that I wasn't a part of and I kept thinking, "when did THAT happen?" I'm obsessive when it comes to time and age in any story and it discombobulates me when something doesn't fit right. I also got thrown off by perspective switches between characters within one section of a chapter. For instance, Victoria would be the focus of the section and then suddenly it switched to another character's perspective, without a break to imply such a shift.
The Lake House is an easy story to get caught up in and even fall in love with. It is heartfelt and powerful, and even has a bunch of humorous moments alongside the heavily emotional ones. Of course, I was casting this as a movie in my head throughout the time I was reading it, as I think it would do well on the big screen.
Victoria: Meryl Streep (younger than Victoria's age in the book, but I think she was meant to look that way anyway)
Heather: Phoebe Strole (I saw her on Glee and immediately pictured her in the role)
Sarah: Helen Mirren
Tom: Chris Hemsworth
Joseph: Harrison Ford (Also a bit younger than Joseph should be, but Hollywood takes liberties anyway)
Thanks to Gallery Books for the novel in exchange for an honest review.
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