Book Number Seven
The Lake and the Lost Girl
I very much enjoyed this debut novel by a local author. Ms. Vincenta knows how to keep a story going! At the end of each chapter, I felt compelled to continue.
The two eras in which the story takes place, 1939 and 1999 are vividly and accurately portrayed. I got a full sense of each.
The setting is a fictional town along Lake Michigan. I enjoyed the depictions of Michigan and our Great Lake. Even the fisherman’s boat from 1939 was real to me and brought back memories (much more pleasant than the poet Mary experienced) of years on my father’s boat from the same era.
The characters are fully developed and realistically portrayed. The parallel lives of Mary Stone Walker and Lydia Carroll are well written and, even though obvious, not overdone. Mary’s husband is a brute, although perhaps some of what he does seems to be in her imagination, and she is not entirely without fault. Lydia’s husband’s descent into madness is brought on by his obsession with the mysterious disappearance of Mary, a local poet, sixty years before. Mary longs to escape from her husband. Lydia wants to keep her marriage together.
As Frank’s obsession overtakes him he becomes selfish, manipulative, and dangerous. I felt enraged by his behavior. I wanted Lydia to wake up and get out. Then I came to realize this was a masterful telling of how abusive relationships develop. The abuser becomes more and more delusional and accusatory. The abused begins to feel at fault and believes if she alters her behavior she can change his behavior.
Mary’s friendship with a fisherman who is willing to help her without gaining anything for himself parallels Lydia’s friendship with an old classmate. Both women are aided by these men but are not “rescued” by them. They have to rely on their own strengths.
I understood Lydia’s attempts to appease her husband but was bothered by the scene where she stays alone in the house knowing he might return and confront her with violence. It felt a little like those horror movies when people run right toward the monster or hide in the basement instead of escaping with their lives. The scene revealed some important information which Lydia needed and that seemed to be the only way for her to obtain it, so I’ll give the author a pass.
In the end, what happened to Mary is revealed and the information helps Lydia to resolve her own issues.
A well written, intriguing tale. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes a mystery and a story of family relationships.