This complex family drama combines family history with a young woman's search to reconnect with a romance from the recent past. Portraying her main character’s emotional state with astonishing complexity, the author reveals hydrologist Lucy Jarrett’s yearnings, hopes and dreams when she returns to the family home in the small village The Lake of Dreams in upstate New York.
For the past few years, Lucy has been infused
with wanderlust. Carelessly traveling the globe, she’s most recently settled in Japan with her boyfriend, Yoshi.
When Yoshi offhandedly comments that she seems "a sad and lonely person," the remark unleashes in Lucy an incessant trembling. As the shaking grows stronger, "the traumas as soft as a rumble," Lucy makes the decision to return to the comforting embraces of her youth, bringing with her all the misinterpretations of family history.
Finding solace in the familiar landscapes of the great lakes, country roads and ancient trails, Lucy seeks to reconnect her with mother, her brother Blake, and her teenage beau, Keegan Fall. Still, nothing
can assuage Lucy’s painful memories of her father and his unexpected, violent death one night on the clear, tranquil waters of the deep dark
In an attempt to put his death behind her, Lucy unlocks the doors of her family home and the secrets
of her great-grandfather, Joseph Arthur Jarrett. She discovers a stack of papers within the cupola, the tiny room at the top of the house. Mostly flyers and little pamphlets, the papers seem to be written by or for suffragettes. Lucy’s mother can shed little light on the collection, not even
a small envelope with its faded, pale-brown handwriting containing a letter to a girl called Iris.
As Edwards's gorgeous, fluid novel advances with Lucy’s secrets and frustrations, we see a girl attempting to view the scattered fragments of her life though a clearer lens. From a piece of woven fabric with a border motif of interlocking moons nestled amid lacy vines and bright flowers, to the ancient letters, to a series of beautiful stained-glass chapel windows, questions circle about mysterious Rose Jarrett and her enigmatic - possibly fraught connection - to Lucy’s great-grandfather.
Edwards conveys the lure of history as she ties Lucy's emboldened desires to the cryptic puzzles behind Joseph's past. A sinuous path leads to Lucy's discovery of seismic proportions. The clues contained in the skillfully-laced border pattern, the variegated windows, and the fragile papers ultimately possess a story of their own, plunging Lucy into a complex realm of birth certificates, marriage records and newspaper archives.
Although Edwards ties together the common threads of her story a bit too neatly, the novel's poignancy comes from
her unique treatment of Lucy’s internal sadness. As the chapel windows shift and change, connecting Lucy to other lives and other times, she drifts in a vast, dark place where the possibilities of actually finding love and fulfillment seem tenuous and elusive.