The Competition – a review of Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

#2-Crow Lake by Mary Lawson
#2-Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

Sorry for the mad dash of posts between today and Saturday.  I procrastinated getting these reviews done, as I had said I would, and the competition is Saturday!  So, now all 5 are coming out within 3 days.

The Book: (Spoiler alert at the bottom but I wouldn’t reco this book so go ahead and read my spoiler!) This reads like a biography!  For that reason, I will say that the main character was well crafted.  I wasn’t convinced at the end that the characters and story weren’t pulled from the authors life.  For me, that was a tick in the pro column. Character development was the strength of this book.  The focal characters were ‘real’ and well rounded, while the background stories of the supporting cast were simply presented and easy to recall their details when they would occasionally reappear in the story. However, the story itself was a little pointless, actually, and I felt the book ended too abruptly after so much build-up (note I will say the same for Perdita).  However, I wasn’t interested in knowing more either, so to have continued wouldn’t have improved anything.

The story opens and we learn very quickly there was an event that has bisected her family and another in town – this event is catastrophic and has shaped their destiny in a tragic way.  The entire book builds to the revelation of that event.  Oh woe is the main character, for her shameful life has been shaped by this earth-shattering event.

Suspense was built meaningfully at first, but by the middle of the book I was bored.  Nothing had been revealed and I finally found myself saying “what is it the big calamity already; quit hinting!”. After 250 pages of reading about how difficult her life is and how she carries this shame like a badge that profoundly affects every relationship she has; when you finally discover what the tragedy is, you think:  “Are you actually kidding me right now, is she that shallow?”.

For that, I didn’t feel the author wrapped up her story well; unless her whole point was that the life-altering event was no big deal from the start but simply overblown in the mind of our protagonist. In the end, I was disappointed that I had read “all this”, only to come to such an unsatisfactory, anticlimactic moment that should have been the ultimate moment of the novel.

All this criticism of this novel said, I would give the author another try.  Her storytelling flows nicely at times, her characters are multi-dimensional, and I would hope to see more of this in other works.

SPOILER: the earth-shattering event that has “ruined” her life: in spite of the high value placed on education in her family, her hero/genius big brother, wasted his potential when he didn’t go to university because he knocked up a local girl…:Þ  291 pages and this is revealed on page 264.  I just found it unbelievable that this would be something to be ashamed of or that it would ruin her relationship with her brother and all of her other personal relationships.  

The Competition: Assuming I’m still up there and get a say in round 2, this will be the second book I vote to eject.  Overall, I expect this book to have the smallest appeal anyway.  Voting it off first would be silly because the Munro book is going to be the hyped book, therefore, the bigger threat!


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