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- Prizes and Awards: Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award 2002
Crow Lake Paperback – Mar 18 2003
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2002 Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award Winner: Mary Lawson's debut novel is a beautifully crafted and shimmering tale of love, death and redemption set in the eponymous Crow Lake, an isolated rural community where time has stood still. Narrated by 26-year-old Kate Morrison, we dive in and out of the troubled woman's childhood memories over the passage of a year--when she was seven and her parents were killed in a motoring accident, leaving Kate, her younger sister Bo and two older brothers Matt and Luke orphaned. The proverbial can of worms is opened for our heroine when she receives an invitation to Matt's son's 18th birthday. The successful zoologist and professor, so accustomed to dissecting everything through a microscope, must suddenly analyse her own relationship and come to terms with her past before she forsakes a future with the man she loves. She is still in turmoil over the events of that fateful summer and winter 20 years ago when the tragedy of another local family, the Pyes, spilled over into their own lives with earth-shattering consequences. One dark night, a shivering Laurie, Pye's only son, stands mute in their porchlight, straining to share something with them but, startled, turns and runs away. The many strange, longing looks which pass between Matt and Marie, Pye's eldest daughter. And the awful night when Marie stands in their doorway whispering unspeakable horrors. In Kate's eyes, the Pye family drown out the hopes and dreams of her own in that one moment. But does the tragedy really lie in the past or is it in the present? Lawson's narrative flows effortlessly in ever-increasing circles, swirling impressions in the reader's mind until form takes shape and the reader is left to reflect on the whole. Crow Lake is a wonderful achievement that will ripple in and out the reader's consciousness long after the last page is turned. --Nicola Perry
From Publishers Weekly
Four children living in northern Ontario struggle to stay together after their parents die in an auto accident in Lawson's fascinating debut, a compelling and lovely study of sibling rivalry and family dynamics in which the land literally becomes a character. Kate Morrison narrates the tale in flashback mode, starting with the fatal car accident that leaves seven-year-old Kate; her toddler sister, Bo; 19-year-old Luke; and 17-year-old Matt to fend for themselves. At first they are divided up among relatives, but the plan changes when Luke gives up his teaching college scholarship to get a job and try to keep them together. The fractured family struggles mightily against the grinding rural poverty of Crow Lake, and the brothers conduct a fierce battle of wills to control their fate, until they both finally land jobs and the family gets some assistance from a neighbor. Unfortunately, that assistance can't overcome the deranged rage of a neighboring farmer, Cyrus Pye, and when Matt becomes involved with Pye's daughter, Maria, a tragic incident robs the brilliant young man of a chance to pursue a career as a naturalist. Kate goes on to become a zoologist at a Toronto college and marry a fellow academic, but her frustration with her brother's fate renders her unable to return to Crow Lake to visit him until the pivotal climax. Lawson delivers a potent combination of powerful character writing and gorgeous description of the land. Her sense of pace and timing is impeccable throughout, and she uses dangerous winter weather brilliantly to increase the tension as the family battles to survive. This is a vibrant, resonant novel by a talented writer whose lyrical, evocative writing invites comparisons to Rick Bass and Richard Ford. (Mar.)Forecast: The combination of orphan protagonists and effortless prose makes this an irresistible first effort. Foreign rights have already been sold in nine countries, and similar enthusiasm should be expected in the U.S.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Crow Lake is the triumphant story of a family that is devastated by the loss of both parents in a tragic accident, but held together by love and sacrifice. The characters are wonderfully defined. The different aspects to their characters are polished like river worn stones, displaying a strength and natural beauty viewed only by those that take the time to really look. Mary Lawson takes life in a small farm village and pieces it carefully together crafting this beautiful story that centers on the life of a young woman learning that what she believes to be important in life does not necessarily hold true for her siblings. It explores the sacrifices made in love and the strength of character that evolves. It is an emotional coming of age story that pulls at your heart and opens your eyes to the happiness and joy people find in their lives in unexpected places.
Far from wanting to "slap" the protagonist for her emotional coldness (as one reviewer suggests), I could really empathize with how the grief and lost dreams of Kate's past have affected her and how long it takes for her to make peace with things her brothers have dealt with long ago. Lawson understands that life crises actually do hurt and traumatize people--yet they can still heal and find peace even if their childhood ideals are not realized, and even if that resolution takes time.
I found this book quite inspiring and written with real grace and simplicity.
There is fine characterization:
'Mrs. Stanovitch arrived at least twice a week, heaving her bulk out from behind the steering wheel of her husband?s battered truck and puffing up the steps to the front door with two loaves of bread balancing on the top of a bushel basket of corn, or a leg of pork tucked under one arm, and a sack of potatoes under the other.'
'They were outside still, and she was still sobbing with terror. He was holding her, helplessly, helplessness in every line of her body.'
Twenty-six year-old Kate Morrison narrates the story of a rural Ontario, Canada family whose past saturates their present. It would seem that old family sins rise again in the following generation. Even older brainy brother Matt, whom Kate adores, hides secrets. When she finds them out, she meets them with resentment, and her hero worshipping of Matt evaporates. Life will never be the same.
Other characters stand out: Aunt Annie with her wobbling chin, the handsome Pye brothers: This is a novel of depth, it is intoxicating and altogether overwhelming.
The book examines the plight of a family and what happens when tragedy strikes. Each sibling deals with their grief after the death of their parents and in the process they learn about themselves. The book's main theme is that our history shapes us into who we become as adults. It also tells us that not everything in life works out perfectly as planned and that we must cope with disappointments in life and move forward. For it is when we move forward that we learn that we are forever connected to our past. It also tells us that we must not dwell on the past, otherwise our relationships get stuck there and do not move forward in a healthy way. We must live and let live and realize that other people's choices in life, may not be our own and we need to accept that. More than anything else this book is a story of survival against all odds and how important our relationships are with our family.
Well the book is well-written and a good story, it is not the best book I have ever read. Although the interpersonal relationships are examined well between the siblings, it is not a great or brilliant study of these relationships. There is just something missing that prevents the book from being great rather than good.
Also, the ending is a little disappointing as I feel it could have had a greater impact by summing up the four siblings emotional bonds to one another. However the author chose to be more subtle in the book's ending.
All in all though, a good read.
Most recent customer reviews
I love reading it, I let my imagination goes and saw myself at crow lake every time I started reading it.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Already knew that this is the best book that I had ever read I was just replacing my "loaned and never returned" copy. An amazing read!Published 8 months ago by Avid Grandma
excellent book. New and delivered well before our book club datePublished 9 months ago by funkylama
Fascinating book....hard to put down as the story line moved along nicely
Very enjoyable read....
At the age of seven, Kate loses her parents in a car accident. Her two teenage brothers, Luke and Matt, take on the responsibility of raising Kate and their younger sister, Bo. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Lisa Adams
I read Crow Lake in my fifth year for an English essay assignment.
I really enjoyed this book for a couple of reasons. Read more
The first book I read by Mary Larson in a series of three books about Northern Ontario, taking place in different generations. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Dee1
Interesting but not compelling story, somewhat patchy style, tedious in places .Published 22 months ago by Rona Bloomfield