It is a beautiful family drama that takes us back to the past—to legacies, to history, and to secrets. The Lake of Dreams: A Novel introduces wonderful characters and slowly reels us in with each event.
We begin in Japan with our first person narrator, Lucy Jarrett, and her boyfriend Yoshi. They are in the midst of an earthquake, an unsettling event that seems to properly set the tone for the shifting lives we will soon explore.
A phone call from home takes Lucy back, after years abroad, to the little village of The Lake of Dreams; Yoshi will join her in a couple of weeks. But at home, Lucy discovers that things are changing: the family is caught up with big plans for construction and projects that will completely change the face of the place she called home. Environmentalists are protesting. The old family company that began with locksmiths, and a unique talent for “hearing” the locks turn, has changed dramatically. In the midst of these happenings, Lucy first begins to feel unsettled, with troubling dreams that resurrect past events, like family quarrels, old rivalries, and her father’s death. Then, searching through hidden boxes in the attic, she finds old letters written to and from people, presumably family members, who have never been mentioned before: A mysterious woman named Rose, and another called Iris.
When a captivating stained glass window is discovered in an old friend’s studio, a tsunami of feelings explodes and Lucy is drawn even further into the unsettled state that seemingly defines her. She begins a quest to discover more.
The first week unfolds gradually, full of events and details, as more and more clues are uncovered. What will Lucy find in old historic buildings and at a center that memorializes an artist whose work resembles the old stained glass window discovered earlier? What will the Halley’s Comet event of 1910 signify for this particular family? What discoveries will lead to the clues that will finally bring Lucy face to face with an old woman in a small town nearby? And how will any of these events inform her life in the future?
Near the end, these explorations have led Lucy to this sense of peace:
“I listen. Not to locks anymore, but past the stillness to the deepest longings of what the mystics would call my true self, something I have come to understand as prayer. This is Rose’s greatest legacy to me….”
At times, I found Lucy’s tendency to stir things up almost annoying, but in the end, her instincts were correct. She had the true investigative talent that leads seekers into daunting tasks and down frightening pathways. I could feel her strength, even as she explored and disturbed the status quo of her family relationships, risking the ire of those who considered her an outsider.
I will not forget these characters or what they tell us. The earthquakes and tsunamis that shift and disturb the earth seem metaphorical for the same kinds of shifting and erupting family relationships and belief systems that populate this story. Five stars.