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Crow Lake (Alex Awards (Awards)) [Hardcover]

Mary Lawson
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb 2002 Alex Awards (Awards)
Crow Lake is that rare find, a first novel so quietly assured, so emotionally pitch perfect, you know from the opening page that this is the real thing–a literary experience in which to lose yourself, by an author of immense talent.

Here is a gorgeous, slow-burning story set in the rural “badlands” of northern Ontario, where heartbreak and hardship are mirrored in the landscape. For the farming Pye family, life is a Greek tragedy where the sins of the fathers are visited on the sons, and terrible events occur–offstage.

Centerstage are the Morrisons, whose tragedy looks more immediate if less brutal, but is, in reality, insidious and divisive. Orphaned young, Kate Morrison was her older brother Matt’s protegee, her fascination for pond life fed by his passionate interest in the natural world. Now a zoologist, she can identify organisms under a microscope but seems blind to the state of her own emotional life. And she thinks she’s outgrown her siblings–Luke, Matt, and Bo–who were once her entire world.

In this universal drama of family love and misunderstandings, of resentments harbored and driven underground, Lawson ratchets up the tension with heartbreaking humor and consummate control, continually overturning one’s expectations right to the very end. Tragic, funny, unforgettable, Crow Lake is a quiet tour de force that will catapult Mary Lawson to the forefront of fiction writers today.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Press (Feb 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038533611X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385336116
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 14.5 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,308,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mary Lawson was born and brought up in a farming community in Ontario. A distant relative of L. M. Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables, she moved to England in 1968. She is the author of Crow Lake and The Other Side of the Bridge.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Canadian writer Mary Lawson's debut novel is a beautifully crafted and shimmering tale of love, death and redemption set in the eponymous Crow Lake, an isolated rural community where time has stood still. Narrated by 26-year-old Kate Morrison, we dive in and out of the troubled woman's childhood memories over the passage of a year--when she was seven and her parents were killed in a motoring accident, leaving Kate, her younger sister Bo and two older brothers Matt and Luke orphaned. The proverbial can of worms is opened for our heroine when she receives an invitation to Matt's son's 18th birthday. The successful zoologist and professor, so accustomed to dissecting everything through a microscope, must suddenly analyse her own relationship and come to terms with her past before she forsakes a future with the man she loves. She is still in turmoil over the events of that fateful summer and winter 20 years ago when the tragedy of another local family, the Pyes, spilled over into their own lives with earth-shattering consequences. One dark night, a shivering Laurie, Pye's only son, stands mute in their porchlight, straining to share something with them but, startled, turns and runs away. The many strange, longing looks which pass between Matt and Marie, Pye's eldest daughter. And the awful night when Marie stands in their doorway whispering unspeakable horrors. In Kate's eyes, the Pye family drown out the hopes and dreams of her own in that one moment. But does the tragedy really lie in the past or is it in the present? Lawson's narrative flows effortlessly in ever-increasing circles, swirling impressions in the reader's mind until form takes shape and the reader is left to reflect on the whole. Crow Lake is a wonderful achievement that will ripple in and out the reader's consciousness long after the last page is turned. --Nicola Perry --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Crow Lake is a remarkable novel, utterly gripping and yet highly literate. I read it in a single sitting, then I read it again, just for pleasure. I await her next work with eagerness (and a little envy).”
— -- Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
My great-grandmother Morrison fixed a book rest to her spinning wheel so that she could read while she was spinning, or so the story goes. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars family ties 27 Aug 2003
This novel combines a compelling plot with emotional insight. The characters in it are conveyed with tenderness and empathy, and the way they struggle to cope with their own lives, and each other, is moving.
Seen through the eyes of Kate Morrison (older sister to Bo, and younger sister to Matt and Luke), the trials and tribulations of a unique family unit are brought to life. The story manages to convey a rich vein of wisdom without being preachy.
Tricky subjects such as fate, guilt and forgiveness are dealt with, and by the end of the book I felt like I had made the journey through these with Kate.
This is not dissimilar to Anne Tyler. Mary Lawson also seems to find magic and beauty in the seemingly ordinary pattern of everyday life.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable 21 May 2005
By Mrs C
It is a VERY long time since I read through a book in one sitting AND am about to read it again! A beautiful story, reminding me alot of To Kill A Mockingbird in that it's told in the first person by a girl now grown and looking back on her childhood. Some may say I shouldn't compare this, Mary Lawson's first novel, to such a classic as Mockingbird, but that was Harper Lee's first and ONLY novel remember.
Well written, good story, unputdownable - what more can a reader want? Hopefully this is not Lawson's ONLY novel!
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59 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful 13 May 2007
By D miles
I could not put this book down! The story of farmlife in the Canadian wilderness and the struggle to survive and not resign yourself to taking whatever life puts in front of you, was (for me)the main theme of the book. Following the sudden death of their parents, the four Morrison children (Kate, Matt, Luke and baby Bo) struggle to survive, without sacrificing Matt's only chance to gain a scholarship and make something of himself. Interwoven with the Morrisons' lives are those of the small farming community, who, despite their own poverty, strive to help the family to cope. Then there is the Pye family who, because of the hostility of their father, are set apart from the community. Then, the two Morrison boys notice that something is horribly amiss with the Pyes, particularly with Laurie, the son who is mercilessly bullied by his father. Kate and Matt discover that Laurie has scars on his body. Being only young themselves, the Morrison family struggle with this knowledge and whether (and who) they should tell. then Laurie disappears. The main focus of the book seems to be upon the relationship between Kate and Matt and the subtle changes that creep in when an ultimate opportunity seems to be thrown away. This book is written with great feeling, but without undue sentimentality. However, I found myself often 'filling up', my eyes brimming with tears as Kate realises that her years of resentment have been misplaced all along. I loved the ending - it made me feel good about the future for each character.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking & Beautiful 1 April 2008
By Jenna
I want to say this is a gentle story, but I do not wish to infer that it is shallow or lukewarm. It is exactly the opposite. It has great depth, understanding, beauty and strength. I had the voice of Kate in my head as she narrated her tale. The writing is so keen I could clearly decipher her accent and the measured but deliberate way she speaks.
The atmosphere created by the writing had me holding my breath waiting to see what happened next. There is no razzmatazz, no bells and whistles, just simple, well written, from the heart storytelling, which is so insightful it made me wonder if the author lived out some of the scenarios herself.
As the pages turned with ease I was listening to the story of a child, and a young woman carrying her inner child inside her and still trying to cope with the fall out from the trauma following the loss of her parents at 7 years of age.
The novel has an aura of mystery and suspense that expands slowly as the tale reaches its climax. Kate is ultimately forced to confront her painful past in order to exorcise the ghosts and face the truth for her own sake. A stunningly beautiful read, which provides food for thought afterwards. Enjoy!!!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Compelling Read! 21 May 2007
I read this in two sittings - a beautifully crafted novel about familial life. Disaster strikes and older brothers pledge to bring up the younger siblings. A beautiful setting as well,in the abundant natural surroundings of the Canadian outback. With great descriptions of pond life, I did wonder if these were meant to make comparisions with real life? I loved the way the story is told by Kate, now looking back as an adult on her uncoventional childhood. It turns out that some of it was just not as it seemed to her at the time.

I do think though that social services would have been on the case in real life, but then this is fiction!

Enjoyable worth reading.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a lovely surprise 27 Jan 2009
This book was free and I assumed if it was free it would be rubbish, how wrong I was......... It was probably one of the best books I think I have ever read, maybe because I can identify with lots of the family relationships, having come from a large family myself but most definitely because it is really well written, funny, sad and kept me interested throughout. I would strongly recommend this book and I cant wait to get another by Mary Lawson.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all-time favourites 26 Jan 2009
I can't praise this book highly enough - I just loved it all the way through. Everything seems 'real' and 'right' - the setting, the characters, the dialogue, the scenes, the plot as a whole. The writing is wonderful, and often very funny - from the first paragraph you know you're in for a treat. It's one of those books that you want to read slowly and savour, but you can't stop turning the pages.

The characters are brought to life so well, and by the end you really care about what happens to them.

One of my favourite books ever!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars I like Mary Lawson's writing although I wouldn't say this was ...
I like Mary Lawson's writing although I wouldn't say this was a great book. It was okay, it kept me interested, but I kept having to remind myself that it was through the eyes of... Read more
Published 11 days ago by Mrs. Kathleen Swan
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Fascinating story about family life, well written. Setting also vey interesting and informative. Made me look for other books by this author.
Published 17 days ago by JPW
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
I found it slightly depressing
Published 21 days ago by Mary Harber
4.0 out of 5 stars I like the prices and the fast delivery
Yes my wife likes these books. I like the prices and the fast delivery.
Published 25 days ago by Roger Pull
3.0 out of 5 stars An easy read
My husband chose this book after hearing about it on the radio, and thought I might enjoy reading it. Read more
Published 26 days ago by candy girl
3.0 out of 5 stars A young family overcoming adversity and tragedy
Slow beginning but became more complex as the story evolved. good satisfying ending which brings understanding to the reader of the longstanding emotional dilemmas of a family .
Published 1 month ago by Gillian Hawthorne
5.0 out of 5 stars Book Group Choice
Excellent read a real page-turner. Extremely well written with Interesting, well developed characters. It made for a good group discussion!
Published 1 month ago by Lynda Surtees
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written
Having heard an interview with the author on the radio I was drawn to read her so started with this first book. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kerry F
4.0 out of 5 stars Skilled writer
Enjoy her writing style. She is able to get to the real heart of human emotions. Great story and difficult to put down. Read the book within 24 hours. Highly recommended.
Published 1 month ago by jaffa
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Very well portrayed characters, wonderful vivid settings, a book that will stay with you visually for a long time. Will definitely be looking out for other Mary Lawson books.
Published 1 month ago by Helen Smith
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