How a Woman Becomes a Lake by Marjorie Celona

kimcheel's review

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I received a free e-copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review; thank you!

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
Spoiler The Lovely Bones

bergamotandbooks's review

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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!

tennisgirl27's review

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This book had some beautiful writing but the plot was very long and drawn out and overall the book just didn’t build for me. The final chapter was poetic and lovely but overall the book was just an average read that I felt I struggled to get through. 3/5

katiedermody's review

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This is the first book I read from the ones I got for 12 Days of Bookmas and it might have been one of picked up on my own at one point but was outside what I've been reading lately (I actually got the audio version from the library vs reading the print copy I got and I'm glad I did, the narrator did well). Yes, it's technically a thriller, but I think it's more of a literary thriller because if has a lot to do with the complicated family dynamics and character journeys. I enjoyed it well enough! I liked that it was told from multiple points of view, including the person who dies. 

jennrobyn's review

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Melancholic and atmospheric are the two best words I can think of to describe this book.

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.

marshaskrypuch's review

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I was captivated by this author's voice right from the first paragraph. This is an immersive read, plunging us into the lives of everyone involved with the sudden death of an extraordinary woman and how that event affects each of them as their lives go forward. More than that, it takes us backwards, showing the relationships in each person's life prior to the tragedy and how these culminated as a perfect storm. Each character is drawn compassionately and achingly real. This is not a thriller: it's very much literary fiction but at the same time it's a compulsive page-turner. You can't help but feel for Vera and Denny, Jesse and Dmitri, and everyone else. They're all so finely drawn. I'd give this book ten stars if I could.


lindsaysmeldrum's review

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3.5 stars. It gave me an icky, haunting feeling to read it. Which means it was well written, but I didn’t exactly enjoy the feeling. Does leave you with some good life questions to ponder.

novelesque_life's review

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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

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mysterious reflective tense fast-paced
  • 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


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challe232's review

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This is about two couples and two children and how their choices impact the rest of their lives. I don't want to spoil anything but I really liked how it touched on life and death, and it all came together at the end. That made it 4 stars for me. The female characters Vera and Evelina were really great characters and I didn't want the novel to end so soon, I liked it enough that I wanted to know more and for it to keep going.

Thanks to Penguin Random House and the author.

4/5 stars