Thursday, February 01, 2007

Mary Lawson's Crow Lake

With her first novel, Crow Lake, Mary Lawson set the bar very high for all of her future fiction. Lawson tells what appears to be a tragic story of the Morrison family, a family of four children who find themselves suddenly orphaned in the wilds of northern Ontario. When the small community rallies to help keep the four children together, the story turns into one of hope and inspiration. Kate Morrison, the third oldest child in the family, is the one who leaves Crow Lake for a college education and for a new life in Toronto where she becomes a college professor. But, as things sometimes happen, Kate is less satisfied with her life than are the sister and two brothers that she left behind.

Mary Lawson is a talented writer. She evokes the feel of living in a painfully cold and remote area of northern Canada in a way that makes the reader fully understand what it must be like to be there in the heart of winter and in the heat of summer. She has a way of describing her characters that leaves each of them clear and distinct from one another. In a deceptively simple fashion she switches from the present back to the childhood of the main character, Kate, in a way that that allows for us to immediately see how childhood experiences formed these adults who are still struggling with their past.

Don’t miss this one. Then let it simmer for a few days and follow it up with Lawson’s second novel, The Other Side of the Bridge, which is set in the same locale and which includes one or two of the same characters. I’m anxious to see what’s next from Mary Lawson.

Rated at: 5.0