By Mary Lawson
(Dial Press Trade Paperback, Paperback, 9780385337632, 324pp.)
Publication Date: January 13, 2003
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Crow Lake is that rare find, a first novel so quietly assured, so emotionally pitch perfect, you know from the opening page that this is the real thing—a literary experience in which to lose yourself, by an author of immense talent.
Here is a gorgeous, slow-burning story set in the rural “badlands” of northern Ontario, where heartbreak and hardship are mirrored in the landscape. For the farming Pye family, life is a Greek tragedy where the sins of the fathers are visited on the sons, and terrible events occur—offstage.
Centerstage are the Morrisons, whose tragedy looks more immediate if less brutal, but is, in reality, insidious and divisive. Orphaned young, Kate Morrison was her older brother Matt’s protegee, her fascination for pond life fed by his passionate interest in the natural world. Now a zoologist, she can identify organisms under a microscope but seems blind to the state of her own emotional life. And she thinks she’s outgrown her siblings—Luke, Matt, and Bo—who were once her entire world.
In this universal drama of family love and misunderstandings, of resentments harbored and driven underground, Lawson ratchets up the tension with heartbreaking humor and consummate control, continually overturning one’s expectations right to the very end. Tragic, funny, unforgettable, Crow Lake is a quiet tour de force that will catapult Mary Lawson to the forefront of fiction writers today.
Mary Lawson was born and brought up in a farming community in Ontario. After graduating from McGill University she went to England for a holiday and stayed on; she lives there still, with her husband and sons, though she returns to Canada every year.
"A finely crafted debut ... conveys an astonishing intensity of emotion, almost Proustian in its sense of loss and regret."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“The assurance with which Mary Lawson handles both reflection and violence makes her a writer to read and watch … has a resonance at once witty and poignant.”—New York Times Book Review
“Crow Lake is the kind of book that keeps you reading well past midnight; you grieve when it’s over. Then you start pressing it on friends.”—Washington Post Book World
“A touching meditation on the power of loyalty and loss, on the ways in which we pay our debts and settle old scores, and on what it means to love, to accept, to succeed—and to negotiate fate’s obstacle courses.”—People
“Lawson’s tight focus on the emotional and moral effects of a drastic turn of events on a small human group has its closest contemporary analogue in the novels of Ian McEwan.”—Toronto Star