Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Review: How a Woman Becomes a Lake by Marjorie Celona

From the Giller-nominated author of
Y comes a suspenseful novel about the dark corners of a small town

It's New Year's Day and the residents of a small fishing town are ready to start their lives anew. Leo takes his two young sons out to the lake to write resolutions on paper boats. That same frigid morning, Vera sets out for a walk with her dog along the lake, leaving her husband in bed with a hangover.

But she never returns. She places a call to the police saying she's found a boy in the woods, but the call is cut short by a muffled cry. Did one of Leo's sons see Vera? What are they hiding from the police? And why are they so scared of their own father?

In the months ahead, Vera's absence sets off a chain of reverberating events in Whale Bay. Her apathetic husband succumbs to grief. Leo heads south and remarries. And the cop investigating the case falls for Leo's ex-wife but finds himself slipping further away from the truth.

Told from shifting perspectives, How a Woman Becomes a Lake is about childhood, familial bonds, new beginnings, and costly mistakes. A literary novel with the pull and pace of a thriller, told in taut illuminating prose, it asks, what do you do when the people who are supposed to love you the most fail? 

Paperback, 272 pages
Published March 3rd 2020
by Hamish Hamilton
4/5 stars

This book was part of my April SweetReadsBox. I was not familiar with this one and that’s what makes these book boxes so much fun, reading something I wouldn’t ordinary pick up.

Labeled as a thriller/mystery I was expecting a suspenseful story that would keep me on my toes and be hard to put down. That being said I read 50% on Sunday afternoon. The different story lines weaved a tale of dysfunction, secrets and longing. I was intrigued.

The different characters carried baggage that were authentic and emotional. But the pacing slowed down and maybe because I was expecting something thrillerish (is that a word?) it flattened out for me. Not that it didn’t keep my attention, I was genuinely interested in reading and finding out what happened.  While the ending was satisfying I wanted more in terms of what happened to a couple players here. This book left me feeling sad and with an aching heart actually. It could be what’s been going on in the world that exasperated that for me though.

But all in all, a good read. 5 stars for the first half of book and 3.5 for the last, rounding out at 4.

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