I enjoy reading character-driven novels, and while there's a mystery in this to add to it, I think at it's core, it's a character piece. The suspense element was well done - perfectly layered without being manipulative. I liked the pacing of the novel as well.
I do think this novel is two different pieces of writing though. We have the mystery that is the core of the novel, but then we have Vera's perspective, which is poetic, grandiose, and at the danger of being meandering. It reminded me a lot of
SpoilerThe Lovely Bones
It's New Year's Day and the residents of a small fishing town are ready to start their lives anew. Leo takes his two young sons out to the lake to write resolutions on paper boats. That same frigid morning, Vera sets out for a walk with her dog along the lake, leaving her husband in bed with a hangover.
But she never returns. She places a call to the police saying she's found a boy in the woods, but the call is cut short by a muffled cry. Did one of Leo's sons see Vera? What are they hiding about that day? And why are they so scared of their own father?
One word to describe this novel: BLEAK. None of the characters had any redeeming qualities and I couldn't scrounge up sympathy for any of them. I do believe this was intentional, as its not a "happy" story by any means, but I wish that there had been something more to connect to. Honestly the only reason I finished this was because I wanted to know what happened to Vera.
Thank you to Netgalley, the author and publisher for my ARC!
The writing was poetic and beautiful, and each character was so flawed and well developed. I didn't love this book but I didn't hate it either. I'm happy I've read it but I wouldn't read it again, and I'm not sure who I would recommend it to.
For me, it was mostly depressing and void of hope and I can't usually jive with a story like that. I need to have some spark of light.
I might have had a hard time relating to this one because I'm not a very deep reader. I don't often translate underlying themes and messages, and I feel like that was the main vein of this story. If it's obvious to me, I'm not going to catch on.
I did love the character development which is so important to me. The crime aspect kept me flipping pages and had me invested in how the story unfolded and ended.
It is a heavy book, and a very sad read. There were a lot of parts that didn't sit well with me and I think that made me disconnect as well. Some parts made me flat out mad, others made me cringe. The whole thing was just a lot and really left me feeling dejected when I was done.
2020; Hamish Hamilton/Penguin Random House Canada
How a Woman Becomes a Lake is a slow burn mystery, that is heavier on literature side than mystery. If you are looking for a pop-suspense, I would skip this one. Celona is a beautiful writer, and the story is at times lyrical, but I was finding it hard to concentrate on what was happening at times. The story sometimes veers too much in the lyrical side. I did enjoy the complex realistic characters, but it is a book I would reread or recommend readily so that is why I rated it just three stars.
***I received a complimentary copy of this ebook from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.***
jnobrien21's review against another edition
- Plot- or character-driven? A mix
- Strong character development? It's complicated
- Loveable characters? It's complicated
- Diverse cast of characters? No
- Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes
Graphic: Death and Grief
Moderate: Child abuse
Thanks to Penguin Random House and the author.