The Lake Of Dreams: A Novel

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The Lake Of Dreams: A Novel

by Kim Edwards

Penguin Publishing Group | November 29, 2011 | Trade Paperback

The Lake Of Dreams: A Novel is rated 3.125 out of 5 by 16.
From Kim Edwards, the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Memory Keeper's Daughter, an arresting novel of one family's secret history

Imbued with all the lyricism, compassion, and suspense of her bestselling novel, The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Kim Edwards’s The Lake of Dreams is a powerful family drama and an unforgettable story of love lost and found.

Lucy Jarrett is at a crossroads in her life, still haunted by her father's unresolved death a decade earlier. She returns to her hometown in Upstate New York, The Lake of Dreams, and, late one night, she cracks the lock of a window seat and discovers a collection of objects. They appear to be idle curiosities, but soon Lucy realizes that she has stumbled across a dark secret from her family's past, one that will radically change her—and the future of her family—forever.

The Lake of Dreams
will delight those who loved The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, as well as fans of Anna Quindlen and Sue Miller.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 400 pages, 8.26 × 5.13 × 0.72 in

Published: November 29, 2011

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0143120360

ISBN - 13: 9780143120360

Found in: Fiction and Literature
At a crossroads in her life, Lucy Jarrett returns home from Japan, only to find herself haunted by her father's unresolved death a decade ago. Old longings stirred up by Keegan Fall, a local glass artist who was once her passionate first love, lead her into the unexpected. Late one night, as she paces the hallways of her family's rambling lakeside house, she discovers, locked in a window seat, a collection of objects that first appear to be useless curiosities, but soon reveal a deeper and more complex family past. As Lucy discovers and explores the traces of her lineage00from an heirloom tapestry and dusty political tracts to a web of allusions depicted in stained-glass windows throughout upstate New York-the family story she has always known is shattered, Lucy's quest for the truth reconfigures her family's history, links her to a unique slice of the suffragette movement, and yields dramatic insights that embolden her to live freely. With surprises at every turn, brimming with vibrant detail, "The Lake of Dreams" is an arresting saga in which every element emerges as a carefully place piece of the puzzle that's sure to enthrall the millions of readers who loved "The Memory Keeper's Daughter."

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Reviews

Rated 1 out of 5 by from Yawn ...... I am very happy that I only spent $4.50 on this book. There were high expectations after Memory Keeper's Daughter; however, I had to force myself to finish this dull and uninteresting story.
Date published: 2014-04-21
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not Memory Keeper's Daughter Often we read a book that we really enjoy and purchase the next book by the same author expecting something as good or better. I found the Memory Keeper's Daughter a wonderful book but was a little disappointed with Lake of Dreams....not as good a read.
Date published: 2012-08-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Slow to start but hard to stop Amazing read. I could not put it down. This story of semi-adventure for teh perspective of a brave woman is wonderous and kept me on my toes.
Date published: 2012-04-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Highly Enjoyable I read The Lake of Dreams in a day. it kept me captivated and I couldn't put it down. I have not read her previous book but am now going to because I enjoyed this so much.
Date published: 2012-01-07
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Just okay... This book had an interesting premise about a woman who finds some letters in her home, written by a mother to her child many years ago. Lucy pursues what she believes to be a family connection and learns about her history along the way. The book was fairly well-written, rich with detail, but I felt that it kind of dragged on too long. There was a substory about her brother and his wife which didn't exactly contribute to the overall book. The ending was a bit of a surprise but in sum, I wouldn't say this book was completely amazing. This book didn't take me away exactly.
Date published: 2011-07-15
Rated 1 out of 5 by from The GREAT book of "I" If you enjoy repetitive sentence structures starting with "I" then this book is a must read. Minutiae of everything in her heroines environment takes away from what had the potential to be a very interesting story line that bobbed up briefly throughout the book only to be lost again in a plethora of descriptive words that constantly side tracked the reader and did nothing to advance the plot. This story would have had great potential if the writer had been brave enough to not fall into the trap of wordiness. Less would have been more for this book. However if you like a lot of information about everything the heroine thinks and feels this book is for you.
Date published: 2011-06-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from An Alright Book The story line was interesting enough, but for some reason I just couldn't get in to this book. The first book was definately better, so if you are hoping that this book will be as good as the first....don't get your hopes up too high, it isn't.
Date published: 2011-05-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Don't read just because of Memory Keepers Daughter I picked up the book because I loved The Memory Keepers Daughter and was hoping for another spellbinding story that I could not put down. The story was ok, but not an easy read, there were many details to keep straight. There was a complicated storyline to keep straight as Lucy visited home to deal with the past that haunted her and her family after her fathers death. I didnt really see how the whole storyline fit in, and I found the character storyline kinda faded to the background, which was unfortunate. The characters were good, I wish the romance triangle between Lucy, Keegan, and Yoshi was developed more, I was disappointed it was kinda just dropped at the end. A ok read, not great, but a nice story with vivid details. After The Memory Keepers Daughter, she has a huge job of writing something better.
Date published: 2011-05-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Kept Your Interest I am not sure if my score is related to that fact that I expected more as I love The Memory Keeper's Daughter. The people were so rich and well developed and the conversations felt real, but that was not the case in this book. The people in the present day felt two-dimensional, even the main character who is supposed to be going through some real soul seaching. However, what holds this book together and makes you want to keep reading is the family member who was never talked about over generations. This character's story is inspired and tragic, but how this is portrayed in the book is what makes Kim Edwards a good author. This book could have been edited better to improve the pace as many extraneous descriptors of the location are just filler and add nothing to the story. I would recommend it as it is still a very good story and most is very well written.
Date published: 2011-05-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I could not put it down! I not only learned so much about those who search for long lost relatives but it enlightened me to the fact that there are numerous daily earthquakes in Japan. Very current given the fact that Japan has just experienced that horrendous 8.8 earthquake and tsunami. Another of Heather's Picks! A good choice!
Date published: 2011-03-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read I really liked this book. Although at times I wanted to slap the main character for some of the choices she makes. Luckly the author doesn't deviate too far from the story, there are times when it feels like it's about to turn into a romance story it doesn't. There's a mystery to solve, without really an antagonist, which was a little odd. I kept expecting things to happen.
Date published: 2011-03-10
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not nearly as good as her first This book left me wondering why I should care about the characters or what happens to them. Her search into the past, while somewhat interesting, left me wondering why there should be any impact on the main character's life now. I finished it because it was chosen for book club, but I normally would have thrown it aside at the half way point.
Date published: 2011-03-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Natural Storyteller Turns Out Another Great Read Fans of The Memory Keeper's Daughter will not be disappointed in Kim Edwards' new novel, The Lake of Dreams. This family saga touches all the bases, dealing with themes of love lost and found, family secrets, a hidden past and the important role women played in history. A great deal of expectation was riding on this follow-up to the wildly successful Memory Keeper's Daughter. While each book is different, The Lake of Dreams is definitely worth reading. At a turning point in her life, both jobwise and in her relationship, Lucy Jarrett returns to her family home in upstate New York from Japan after hearing that her mother has been injured in a car accident. Ten years have lapsed since she left home to go to college and she returns only to find herself still haunted by her father's unresolved death by drowning a decade earlier, which she partially blames on herself for not going fishing with him that day. She also is reacquainted with her first love, Keegan Falls, for whom she struggles to sort out her feelings. Suffering from jet lag one night, Lucy stumbles upon some old papers in a locked cupboard in the family attic that bear the name of a family ancestor she has never heard of named Rose, who apparently lived a century before. Lucy throws herself into a quest to discover Rose's identity and in turn discovers a secret past that alters her understanding of her heritage and herself. The Lake of Dreams is a beautifully written novel. I particularly liked the way Kim Edwards wrote about the interpersonal relationships of the characters. Lucy seems a little put off that life has gone on in her absence since her father's accident. She seems uncomfortable about her mother's budding romance after years of being a widow and also of the fact that her brother, Blake, has decided to join in the family business with their Uncle Art who Lucy feels pushed her father out of the business. The characters all seemed very real to me. I highly recommend this novel. Great choice for book clubs and for those who like books about family relationships. It is also a Heather's Pick.
Date published: 2011-02-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from …surprises at every turn, brimming with vibrant detail… At a crossroads in her life, Lucy Jarrett returns home from Japan, only to find herself haunted by her father's unresolved death a decade ago. Old longings stirred up by Keegan Fall, a local glass artist who was once her passionate first love, lead her into the unexpected. Late one night, as she paces the hallways of her family's rambling lakeside house, she discovers, locked in a window seat, a collection of objects that first appear to be useless curiosities, but soon reveal a deeper and more complex family past. As Lucy discovers and explores the traces of her lineage00from an heirloom tapestry and dusty political tracts to a web of allusions depicted in stained-glass windows throughout upstate New York-the family story she has always known is shattered, Lucy's quest for the truth reconfigures her family's history, links her to a unique slice of the suffragette movement, and yields dramatic insights that embolden her to live freely. With surprises at every turn, brimming with vibrant detail, "The Lake of Dreams" is an arresting saga in which every element emerges as a carefully place piece of the puzzle that's sure to enthrall the millions of readers who loved "The Memory Keeper's Daughter."
Date published: 2011-01-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Courtesy of Lost For Words Lucy Jarrett is at a crossroads in her life. She's currently unemployed, feeling like something is missing in her life. When she finds out that her mother has been in an accident, she decides to head back to her childhood home for a visit. Her return home stirs up some memories of the past--of her father's death, and her feelings for her old flame who is now a prominent member of the town. While there, she finds some hidden articles that capture her interest, and she decides to embark on a quest to find out the history behind them. What she doesn't realize is that these articles link her family to the suffragette movement, and that they will also ultimately help her on her own personal journey. A captivating, mesmerizing read. Beautifully descriptive, and full of elegant prose, the story unfurls slowly as it captures the readers interest. Lucy is a realistic character, one that I think many can and will identify with. She is lost, at a juncture in her life. She's disillusioned, and frustrated as she feels that she is standing still without a job while her significant other, Yoshi, is happily immersed in a project at his work. When she learns of her mother's accident, she is hesitant at first to head home due to her mother's statements that she is fine, and the unresolved history of her father's death. Yoshi tempts her with the idea that he'll meet up with her and finally meet her mother once his project is wrapped up. With that in mind, she heads back to her childhood home. I really enjoyed how Edwards used the hidden letters and the newfound windows to peel back history and give us a glimpse of the suffragette movement, and I also liked how she made it such a personal journey for Lucy. The mystery behind Lucy's father's death, and her newfound relations is revealed at a slow pace, so readers who enjoy a fast-paced read might not enjoy the meandering pace set in The Lake of Dreams. Regardless, I found the read highly enjoyable, and I enjoyed the added tension of Lucy's old flame, Keegan. All in all, a gorgeous and descriptive read. From the shores of Japan, to the wilds of upstate New York, the writing is vivid, and exceptional. The history and letters revealed add to the poetic nature of the book. Though I may not have been completely hooked at the beginning due to the slow pacing, I found that I was subtly drawn in, until I couldn't put the book down and I had to find out what happened, and how it affected Lucy and her family. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.
Date published: 2011-01-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Satisfying read I think I am one of the few people who hasn't read The Memory Keeper's Daughter - Kim Edward's New York Times bestselling first novel. So I jumped at the chance to read her latest book - The Lake of Dreams. Now I know why everyone kept recommending her! Lucy Jarrett lives in Japan with her boyfriend Yoshi. She is between jobs and somewhat uncertain of what the future holds for her. When an email from her brother arrives, mentioning that her widowed mother has been slightly injured in a fall, Lucy decides to go home for a visit. The visit stirs up memories of her father's death. Nothing is as it was, her mother and her brother Blake are moving on with their lives. "All these years I'd taken such comfort in my wandering life, but really I'd been as anchored to the night my father died as Blake had been, circling it from afar, still caught within its gravity. Now Blake was moving on, and my mother was, too; the feeling I'd been fighting all day, the feeling of being adrift by myself in a vast dark space, engulfed me for a moment." In the cupola of the family home, Lucy discovers a cache of items that suggest the family history as she knows it, isn't quite the whole story. As Lucy pursues the story behind the items, history reaches forward to change the course of the present. The characters were especially well drawn, each entirely believable. The emotions and situations were convincing and rang true - Lucy's exploration of her feelings with an old flame, her mother's burgeoning relationship with a new flame and more. It was the exploration of the past that enthralled me though. I found myself flipping ahead, looking for the italicized type that indicated a letter from the past. These letters were especially poignant - the emotions and circumstances that surround them were both addicting and heart rending. The story flows seamlessly, blending the past and present together with vibrant details. The descriptions of glass blowing are vivid and sensual. The use of unsettled weather to mirror Lucy's emotional state is particularly effective. The settings are lushly depicted. Edwards has crafted an incredibly rich, multi layered story, with threads reaching from one storyline to the next, finally joining them together in a satisfying conclusion. "Whatever its beginning, the story had unfolded, one event leading to the next, beauty and loss surfacing in every generation, until I sat here, a hundred years away from the comet, woven into the story in ways no one could ever have imagined." A satisfying read - definitely recommended.
Date published: 2011-01-04

– More About This Product –

The Lake Of Dreams: A Novel

The Lake Of Dreams: A Novel

by Kim Edwards

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 400 pages, 8.26 × 5.13 × 0.72 in

Published: November 29, 2011

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0143120360

ISBN - 13: 9780143120360

Read from the Book

PrologueAlthough it is nearly midnight, an unusual light slips through a crack in the wool, brushing her arm like the feathers of a wing. In the next room her parents sleep, and the darkened village is silent, but she has lain awake all these hours and now she climbs out of bed, the floorboards rough against her feet. For weeks people have talked of nothing but the comet, how the earth will pass through clouds of poison vapors in its tail, how the world could end. She is fifteen, and all day she and her brother helped seal the house—windows, doors, even the chimney—with thick black wool, hammers tapping everywhere as their neighbors did the same.The narrow triangle of strange light touches her here, then there, as she crosses the room. She is wearing her blue dress, almost outgrown, the worn cotton soft against her skin. In this room, a low space over the shop that is hers alone, the wool is only loosely fastened to the window, and when she yanks a corner the cloth falls away, pale comet light swimming all around. She pushes the window open and takes a breath: one, and then another, deeper. Nothing happens. No poison gas, no searing lungs—only the watery spring, the scents of growing things and, distantly, the sea.And this odd light. The constellations are as familiar as the lines on her own palms, so she does not have to search to find the comet. It soars high, a streaming jewel, circling the years, thrilling and portentous. Distantly a dog barks, and the chickens rustle and
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From the Publisher

From Kim Edwards, the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Memory Keeper's Daughter, an arresting novel of one family's secret history

Imbued with all the lyricism, compassion, and suspense of her bestselling novel, The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Kim Edwards’s The Lake of Dreams is a powerful family drama and an unforgettable story of love lost and found.

Lucy Jarrett is at a crossroads in her life, still haunted by her father's unresolved death a decade earlier. She returns to her hometown in Upstate New York, The Lake of Dreams, and, late one night, she cracks the lock of a window seat and discovers a collection of objects. They appear to be idle curiosities, but soon Lucy realizes that she has stumbled across a dark secret from her family's past, one that will radically change her—and the future of her family—forever.

The Lake of Dreams
will delight those who loved The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, as well as fans of Anna Quindlen and Sue Miller.

About the Author

Kim Edwards is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, which was translated into thirty-eight languages.  The Lake of Dreams is her second New York Times bestselling novel.  She is also the author of a collection of short stories, The Secrets of a Fire King.  Her honors include the Whiting Award, the British Book Award, and USA Todays Book of the Year, as well as the Nelson Algren Award, a National Magazine Award, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.  A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she has taught widely in the US and Asia, and currently lives in Lexington, Kentucky.

Editorial Reviews

“Once again, Edwards has created a memorable cast of easily recognizable characters . . . This is a powerful story about the influence of history, the importance of our beliefs, and the willingness to embrace them all.”
Booklist

“Gorgeously written. . . . luminously beautiful.”
The Dallas Morning News

“[Edwards’s] latest novel, set in the Finger Lakes region of her native New York, is another tour de force that showcases her talent for engaging readers immediately and, her agile prose would argue, effortlessly.”
Louisville Courier-Journal

“Beautifully written, with vivid imagery and emotion, this book shines with artistry. Edwards has another winner here, and I look forward to reading more of her work.”
—Bookreporter.com

“Kim Edwards writes with great wisdom and compassion about family, choices, secrets, and redemption.”
—Luanne Rice

Bookclub Guide

INTRODUCTION
"All these years I'd taken such comfort in my wandering life, but really I'd been as anchored to the night my father died as Blake had been, circling it from afar, still caught within its gravity." (p. 104)

As a child, Lucy Jarrett received a unique inheritance. Her father, a third-generation locksmith, taught her how "to listen to the whisper of metal shifting" (p. 36) and to open locks without a key. Since then, Lucy has left her hometown—and the pain of her father's mysterious death—far behind. But years later she finds a cache of papers whose long-held secrets will eventually unravel her family's cherished history and release Lucy from her haunted past.

It's been more than a decade since Martin Jarrett drowned in the Lake of Dreams, and Lucy has made only brief visits back to the eponymously named upstate New York village. But when she receives word that her mother has been injured in a car accident, her boyfriend, Yoshi, convinces her that a change of scenery might help her regain perspective and a sense of purpose.

Lucy first met Yoshi, an engineer, while she was on a short-term hydrology assignment in Jakarta. They'd quickly "fallen in love the way it is possible to fall in love overseas, cut off from everything" (p. 6). Afterwards, however, Yoshi found lucrative work in Japan while Lucy remained unemployed. She accompanied him only to become isolated and lonely, adrift in a foreign land.

At a crossroads in her life and in their relationship, Lucy returns to the Lake of Dreams to find the once quiet village on the brink of upheaval. The recent closing of the area's biggest employer, a local military depot, has left a large area of wetlands hotly contested between developers, conservationists, and the descendants of the Iroquois tribe who originally inhabited it.

Closer to home, her brother, Blake, has just accepted a job with their Uncle Art, who finagled their father out of his share of the family business years before. And their mother, Evie, is enjoying a budding romance after years of widowhood.

Perhaps most unsettling, however, is news that her first love, Keegan Fall, has also returned. Keegan now owns and operates a popular artisanal glassworks, and Lucy must acknowledge how "the feelings I'd had for him all those years ago surged up as if I'd never left" (p. 60).

Disoriented by jetlag and a flood of conflicting emotions, Lucy seeks refuge in her family's lakeside home. There, peeling paint exposes a cupboard that attracts Lucy's attention, and she picks the lock. Inside lies a mishmash of papers dated from between 1913 and 1925. Some are newspaper clippings and relics from the suffrage movement, but there are also two compelling and provocative handwritten notes whose author, Rose, Lucy cannot place in the family tree.

She is intrigued by this mystery, and—as she awaits Yoshi's imminent arrival—grows determined to learn Rose's true identity, embarking on a quest that will uncover the past, piece by piece. The scant clues gradually lead her through a Byzantine web of deception whose resolution will shake the Jarrett clan to its core.

Beautifully written and lushly imagined by one of today's most gifted novelists, Kim Edwards's The Lake of Dreams is an enthralling family saga rich with insights on the past's inexorable power over all our lives.



ABOUT KIM EDWARDS

Kim Edwards is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Memory Keeper's Daughter, which has been published in more than thirty-eight countries, and a collection of short stories, The Secrets of a Fire King. Her honors include the Whiting Award, the British Book Award, and USA Today's Book of the Year, as well as the Nelson Algren Award, a National Magazine Award, and a grant from the NEA. She is an associate professor at the University of Kentucky.



A CONVERSATION WITH KIM EDWARDS
Q. Your first novel, The Memory Keeper's Daughter, sold more than four million copies and was a #1 New York Timesbestseller. What was your experience writing a follow-up to such a spectacularly popular debut?

I've always written, and knew from the time I was learning to read that I wanted to be a writer, so it was completely natural for me to embark on another novel once The Memory Keeper's Daughter was complete, even before it was published. Each story begins with fragments, images, a glimpse, and in those early days with The Lake of Dreams I was doing a great deal of writing outside the narrative—character sketches and histories, writing exercises, lots and lots of free-writing of all kinds. I set myself a goal of 1,000 words a day, but I put no other constraints on the work I was doing. Very few of these early pages ended up directly in the novel, but this underlying work was necessary for me to understand the characters and the narrative. I was also reading a great deal about myths, in particular about the hero's journey and quest narratives, thinking about structure and Lucy's experiences. I read Thomas Mann's tetrology, Joseph and His Brothers, and started reading contemporary theologians, too.

Thus, by the time all the excitement began over The Memory Keeper's Daughter, I was already deeply immersed in The Lake of Dreams. I had to put writing aside altogether for a couple of years to respond to the astonishing events—The Memory Keeper's Daughter became a bestseller internationally, and won the British Book Award. When I finally came back to my desk, it was very satisfying, as well as very grounding, to return to writing in general, and to this story in particular, with so much already begun. Gradually, I was able to block out the world with all its clamor and demands and reenter the fictional world I'd been creating. Again, this shift felt quite natural and gratifying. Through times of great obscurity and times of great recognition, the constant for me, and the greatest satisfaction, has always been the writing itself.

Q. How—if at all—has success affected your job as a professor of creative writing? What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

I've been on an extended leave in order to focus on writing, so I haven't been in the classroom much lately. The advice I'd give to beginning writers remains the same, however. First, write. Every day, in a disciplined way. Read as much as possible, read everything. Take writing classes to deepen your understanding of narrative structure and character development. Find a group of other aspiring writers and exchange manuscripts—becoming a close reader of the work of others will ultimately help you turn a clear eye on your own, and the community will help sustain you through the years it takes to master aspects of craft. Be patient, and take pleasure in the joy of writing.

Q. In The Lake of Dreams, you give a subtle nod to The Memory Keeper's Daughter when Lucy looks at the book her mother is reading and "glimpsed an ethereal baby dress against a background of black" (p. 143). Both novels have abandoned children at their heart. What draws you to explore this theme?

That's a good question. It's not personal, at least not directly—my parents have been married for fifty-five years and still live in the house they built in 1958, where I grew up with my two brothers and my sister. Both my grandmothers lost their mothers at young ages and ended up in difficult situations, so perhaps hearing those stories of loss did influence me obliquely.

I think, however, that there are deeper and more interesting underlying reasons. Both of my novels deal with situations in which social structures and mores affect the individual lives of my characters. In The Memory Keeper's Daughter, the assumptions and expectations about Down's syndrome that were prevalent in the 1960s allowed David Henry to believe he was doing the right thing to give his daughter away. He acted from a position of power, but for Rose, in The Lake of Dreams, the situation was much different. Although Rose lacked rights we've come to take for granted, such as the right to vote, to own property, and to have an education, she understood her own integrity as a human being and stood up for what she believed to be right, carving out a life for herself against difficult odds and opening the path for those who would follow, even when that meant leaving her child in the care of others. What connects the two situations, in my view, is the pressure that dysfunctional aspects of society put on individuals, even on the bonds we tend to think of as being the strongest and most inviolate of all—that of parents with their children.

I'll add to this that variations on the situations in these two novels happen all the time, all around us. Several years ago I started an ESL program to meet the needs of the growing Hispanic community in my city. We worked with a literacy organization; the classes were held at a church. I taught in this program weekly for five years, and during that time I heard again and again stories that broke my heart: the couple who took turns sleeping in their car between shifts at McDonalds so they could send money home to their families, including the toddler they'd left behind; the woman who had not seen her two older children for seven years, not since they were eight and nine years old and she'd left them to try to work her way out of poverty and provide them with food and education. These were gentle and loving people who had been forced by circumstances to make choices no parent should ever have to face.

Q. Whose story did you envision first: Lucy's or Rose's?

Actually, I started with Evie's story. Before my story collection The Secrets of a Fire King was published, I finished a draft, some 400 pages long, of a novel that was a precursor to The Lake of Dreams. Some familiar elements were in that book—the comet tying an intergenerational novel together, a complex family history, and the thematic concerns with regard to the land—but the draft was a youthful effort, and it ended up in my desk drawer. I tried again, a few years later, using a different voice, but hit a wall about 200 pages in and put the book aside to write The Memory Keeper's Daughter.

By the time I returned to The Lake of Dreams I knew it was Lucy's story. I had her voice, which is always the crucial discovery. Still, as I wrote more deeply into the narrative, another voice, this one from the past, just kept persisting. I finally started writing it down, thinking I could simply understand the back story and how it had influenced Lucy and then put aside the pages I was writing. Gradually, however, the story of Rose Jarrett took on its own life, weaving its way into the contemporary narrative in ways I could not have imagined when I started.

Q. Where The Memory Keeper's Daughter is a very intimate family saga about a child with Downs syndrome, this novel is crafted against a much broader socio-political backdrop (e.g. the American suffrage movement, Native American rights, and wildlife preservation). What inspired this shift?

First, I disagree with this distinction. The Memory Keeper's Daughter does focus on individual lives, but it also takes place over several decades, and against the backdrop of the quite dramatic cultural shifts that happened in the United States during the 1960s and 1970s. The possibilities for women changed, and parents launched an extraordinary grassroots movement to gain greater acceptance for children who had disabilities, to name just two. Likewise, The Lake of Dreams is also the story of particular characters, living their lives in particular times. As a writer, I'm interested in the way that historical events and social mores influence the way we understand the world and the decisions we make. I don't think it's possible to isolate individuals, or characters, from the eras and cultures they inhabit.

Q. After you earned your graduate degrees—an MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop and an MA in linguistics—you lived and taught in Asia for several years. Like Lucy, you spent time in several countries. Are any of her experiences based on your own?

Not really, not in more than a general sense. My first summer in Japan was full of earthquakes, which was unsettling, and that made its way into the novel because it struck me as a perfect way to presage the unsettling to come in Lucy's personal and emotional life. I traveled a bit in Indonesia, but didn't spend time there, though I did draw generally on my years in Malaysia to imagine what Lucy's life would have been like there. Cambodia was a moving and important experience for me, one I've never been able to write about directly, so certainly having Lucy go there was a way of remembering my own connection to the country and to its incredibly strong people. One thing I did give Lucy from my own experience is the shift in her perspective. In total, I spent nearly six years living away from my own country and culture, and that has necessarily changed and shaped the way I see the world.

Q. You include incredible descriptions of both the art of glassmaking and technical details about hydrology—not to mention information about the suffrage movement. What were some of the more interesting things you discovered in the course of your research?

It was very interesting to read about the "Silver Ghost," which was the name given to the first Rolls Royce, and to imagine a world before the automobile. I spent time at glass studios and even tried my hand at blowing glass, as well as reading about glassmaking and the art of stained glass windows. Since I grew up very near Seneca Falls, N.Y., the research I did on the women's suffrage movement was very real and alive to me—the authors were talking about events that happened on streets I had walked, in places that I knew. Also, I was intrigued to realize, at a point far into the narrative, that all the imagery of the book was working together in a harmonious but unplanned way. The motif of the circles was in this draft of the book from the beginning, and wheelwrights resonated with that image quite directly; that was a conscious choice. Yet much later, long after I'd written the scenes, I learned that early stained glass windows were modeled on the shapes of wheels—they were called 'wheel windows'—and that the word orbit comes from the Latin orbita, meaning a rut or a track, like that left by a wheel, traced in the sky. Also, of course there are the many relevant associations with roses, from circles to chalices. I didn't plan this, not at all; in order to have any power or authenticity, images have to arise from the work itself, they cannot be imposed. So I was fascinated as I began to realize how everything resonated, how deeply and intricately all the imagery was connected.

Probably the most interesting thing, however, and perhaps the most sobering, was to realize how many of the issues the early feminists faced are still under discussion today. Only within my lifetime has the church begun to ordain women, for instance, and many denominations still exclude women from positions of authority. I was writing and researching this novel during the 2008 election, which meant that I was reading about the events and debates of the early 1900s while arguments about women's reproductive health, access to information, and even, extremely, the 19th amendment, swirled around me in the present, too. It was a compelling reminder that the rights I take for granted haven't always been there.

Q. You write about Keegan's work and Frank Westrum's stained-glass windows with such passion. Have you always been interested in this medium, or is it more of a metaphorical vehicle?

Early on in the writing of this novel I had a sense that Keegan was a stained glass artist. I was drawn to the beauty of the process, the way glass moves between liquid and solid states, and the idea of shaping glass with breath. While I took notes and kept extensive journal entries about the experiences, it was a year or more before I began to write the scenes in the novel involving glass. I had to understand the characters first, and allow time for the experiences and information I'd collected to distill into the imagery and metaphors essential for this novel.

Q. Who are some of the writers that you most admire?

There are so many that it's hard to choose. Virginia Woolf is a favorite, and I always look forward to Alice Munro and William Trevor. Seamus Heaney, too, and Mary Oliver. I enjoyed Susan Cheever's biography of Louisa May Alcott, both for Cheever's writing as for the chance to reacquaint myself with Alcott, whose books I loved as a girl. Recently, I've also started to read the collected works of Thomas Hardy, and have discovered several contemporary theologians, including Teilhard de Chardin, Dorothy Soelle, and Elizabeth Johnson; their work is brilliant and thought-provoking.

Q. What are you working on now?

I've had the first glimpses of the next novel, and I understand something about its characters and concerns, but it's far too soon to say more; it's still a secret, and will be for years.



DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  • By virtue of her actions and beliefs, Rose was effectively excised from the Jarrett's family history. How unusual do you think it was for women to suffer this fate?

  • Is the name of the Jarrett family business, "Dream Master," hopeful or ominous?

  • Before she became pregnant, Rose longed to become a priest, and Lucy loved the church despite the fact that "God seemed as silent as my father, as angry as my uncle, as distant as the portrait of my great-grandfather in the hall" (p. 74). In your view, what have been some consequences of denying women the priesthood and leadership roles within the church? How has this situation changed in recent decades. How does it persist? Do you feel this should change further? If so, how? If not, why not?

  • "Just knowing she had existed opened new and uneasy possibilities within my understanding of the story I thought I'd always known by heart. And I felt responsible, too" (p. 142). Why is Lucy so driven to uncover the truth about Rose? Is there a family story to which you are deeply attached? If yes, what is it and why? What happens if you try to imagine that story from the perspective of the various people involved, including those on the fringes?

  • Have you, like Lucy, ever revisited romance with an old flame while you were involved with someone new? Did you tell your new partner about your lapse? Did the encounter ultimately strengthen or weaken your new relationship?

  • Although Rose does not intend to leave Iris, her spontaneous response to the march for suffrage makes her an outcast and puts her relationship with her daughter at risk. If you are a parent, is there a cause so important to you that you would risk losing your own child in order to support it? Was the victory that Rose helped win ultimately worth her sacrifice?

  • Do you think it was Lucy's great-grandfather, Joseph, or her grandfather, Joseph, Jr., who hid the will? Why didn't he destroy it instead?

  • When they're viewing the stained-glass panel of Jesus and the woman with the alabaster jar, the Reverend Suzi explains that she is not a fallen woman and that, in the Gospels, Jesus defends her. "Yet here we are, millennia later, and we don't tell her story. We don't even have her name" (p. 339). What do you imagine her story to be?

  • "Rose, I was sure, had acted out of love, yet for Iris her mother's absence had remained an unresolved sadness at the center of her life" (p. 354). Do you agree with Lucy about Rose's decision to keep her real identity a secret from Iris—even after the latter was estranged from Joseph and Cora? What has changed culturally to make such a choice seem startling today?

  • Does Lucy make the right decision in choosing to stay with Yoshi rather than renewing her love affair with Keegan? Is a romantic relationship with someone from another culture easier or more difficult to maintain?

  • Towards the end of The Lake of Dreams, Edwards writes, "the earthquakes had eased—the underwater island had finally formed" (p. 375). Discuss the ways in which Edwards employs images of the natural world throughout the novel.

  • For generations, most women have taken for granted the rights won them by the suffrage movement and the early pioneers of family planning. How did reading The Lake of Dreams alter your perception of these bygone women—especially now that birth control and abortion are, once again, hotly debated topics?