I can't say enough about this book. I adored it, every single moment. The cabins by the lake are the main setting of the story but they are no longer what they used to be. You can picture them both in their prime when families came to vacation, and present day, still functional but slightly run down and no longer profitable. Part of the charm of the cabins is that they are all furnished with mismatched items bought in the 60's on Eby's honeymoon. Each one is unique. The lake seems to be a perfect place where anyone would want to escape to refresh themselves. I wanted to be there myself, laying on the dock, looking for alligators while soaking up the sun, away from the noise of civilization. It is a place of cherished memories, lasting friendships, and comfort.
Every single character pulls you in from the moment they arrive at the lake after hearing the news that Eby has decided to sell. Our protagonist, Kate, her free-spirited daughter Devin, Eby, Lisette, Selma, Wes, and especially the alligator, who both enchanted me and moved me to tears. All of them possess a burden (or two) that they hold inside and have carried with them through life. Each character's story is told at some point in the book, fitting in beautifully with the flow of the story and demonstrating the immense creativity of the author. These stories are captivating. My favorite is Selma's story about how she was given eight charms and the last charm is the one where she will finally win her heart's desire. Some of the stories are heartbreaking and others bittersweet but as a reader, I found myself hoping that every single person at Lost Lake would triumph in the end and that Lost Lake itself would somehow triumph as well.
The consistent themes in the story focus around friendship, family, love, loss, and moving on. It had a few sad moments as we followed the characters into their earlier lives, but I would not call it a sad story overall. On the contrary, I was happy and hopeful throughout most of the book as I was reading. I was reminded over and over again that a family isn't always those you are related to by blood, but instead by those who are always there for you when you need them the most. You can see it with Eby and Lisette, with Selma and Bulahdeen, and with Wes and Eby. These relationships were forged by an earned trust and unconditional acceptance and love. Relationships that are true gifts.
The one word I would use to describe this story is "magical." Make sure you have enough time to read it in one sitting because it will be a hard one to put down. Sarah Addison Allen has a winner here. If you want to know more about her or take a look at her other books, or stop by her website at http://www.sarahaddisonallen.com/