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Review: Crow Lake – Mary Lawson


Crow Lake

Joanna Harris is one of my all-time favourite authors. Every since I found myself swept away by the magical streets of France so perfectly painted in her Chocolat trilogy, I’ve worked my way through most of her back catalogue, always eager for more of her poetic prose and wonderfully spun plots. And so it was when perusing the shelves of Ampersand, a beautiful bookshop-cum-cafe that sells endless shelves of well-read books and the best chocolate brownies in Sydney, that a quote from Joanne Harris caught my eye: ‘A remarkable novel, utterly gripping…I read it at a single sitting, then I read it again, just for the pleasure of it.’ Thus begins the story of how my love for one writer led me to finding another.

From the early pages, Lawson’s writing is quiet and unassuming yet vivid and vibrant. A wonderfully compelling tale, Crow Lake tells the story of four orphaned siblings, who grew up in the badlands of Northern Ontario and whose relationships are underpinned with a simmering of guilt, regret and tragedy. Kate, the third child, narrates the story twenty years later, looking back on their childhood as she recounts the strifes and the strains they encountered following the sudden death of both their parents.

Lawson weaves a familial tapestry that plays out as the plot progresses and the past of the four siblings become ever more present. A slow-burning gem of a book; Crow Lake is a lyrical, poignant and subtle tale that stays with its reader long after the final page is turned.

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