Family secrets dominate this sluggish melodrama, a second novel that recalls the corrosive secret at the heart of Edwards’s surprise bestseller The Memory Keeper’s Daughter (2005).
Lucy Jarrett is front and center. When she was 17, she made what she felt was a fateful decision. She harshly dismissed her father’s suggestion they go fishing on the lake; he went alone and accidentally drowned. Guilt-stricken, Lucy unceremoniously dumped her Native American boyfriend Keegan and left her hometown, the eponymous Lake of Dreams in upstate New York, to attend college out West. Then came a career as a hydrologist working for multi-nationals and a string of short-lived romances. Now, pushing 30 and unemployed, she’s living with her latest lover, the Japanese engineer Yoshi, outside Tokyo. She flies home after hearing her mother has had an accident. It’s minor, but Lucy is surrounded by change. Her mother has a new admirer; her uncle Art, who owns the family hardware store, is spearheading a contested lakeside development; and Keegan, married but separated, has a successful glassworks. How curious, then, that amid these upheavals, the jet-lagged Lucy should zero in on the past after discovering some hidden papers. She learns about her great-great-aunt Rose. Back in England in 1910, the 15-year-old had been seduced, impregnated and abandoned by the lord of the manor, that scoundrel. After traveling to America with her brother Joseph, she had been separated from her daughter after marching with suffragettes. All this Lucy learns from letters she has stolen from the Historical Society. Why Lucy should feel a life-changing connection to Rose is never clear; her problem is she’s commitment-shy, as shown by her renewed interest in Keegan (forget about Yoshi). The rush of events near the end includes the discovery of an old will, an anguished confession about her dad’s boating accident and Lucy’s trashing of the family store; being the heroine, she gets a pass.
It’s all mush, but the feminist angle may keep the fans loyal.