I’ve never been a fan of what’s commonly referred to as “chick-lit”. Over the last few years, though, I’ve found a number of authors who appeal to me who would be classified in that genre. Jodi Picoult and Janet Evanovich fall into this category, among others. My most recent author whose books I’ve been devouring is Kristin Hannah.
On Mystic Lake tells a story that in some ways is a common one. Annie Colwater is a woman who lost herself in marriage to a successful attorney. Now, as her only daughter, Natalie, prepares to leave the nest, she finds the life she thought she had shattered. Her husband leaves her for the woman he’s been having an affair with, leaving Annie alone and broken. Unsure of what to do, she returns to the small town in Washington State where she grew up in. There she finds a childhood sweetheart who’s as broken as she is but for different reasons. In his despair, Nick is neglecting his daughter Izzie who thinks she is disappearing and can’t talk. In this setting, Annie feels reborn, but is it something that will last? Or will the life she built back in Los Angeles reclaim her?
Perhaps you need to go through the ups and downs of life before you can appreciate a book like On Mystic Lake. I know at 20, I would have found it hard to relate to Annie and would have been a lot harsher with my criticism of the book. Being closer in age to Annie than her daughter does make a difference. There was so much in her that I could relate to. Like Annie, I have a need to take care of people and nurture them, although I haven’t gotten quite as lost in that world as Annie has.
Hannah’s writing is terrific. Her characters are a little bit too typical, but she manages to enrich them in such a way that I cared a lot about them. Only Annie’s husband Blake, truly seems like the caricature of a typical successful man who’s full of himself with few redeeming qualities. We all know the type; the best thing you can say about him is that he’s successful and doesn’t beat his wife. That’s Blake in a nutshell. The rest of the people we meet in On Mystic Lake have a good degree of depth and complexity that keep the story interesting. I cared about what was going to happen to Annie and Nick and Izzie. I could see the happy ending but didn’t know if and how Hannah would bring us there, especially when Hannah threw a huge monkey-wrench into the mix.
On Mystic Lake is an emotional roller-coaster for sure, but one I found fun to read. Sometimes it’s nice to still believe in the happy ending.
Categories: Book Reviews