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Crow Lake

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About the Author

Mary Lawson was born and brought up in a farming community in Ontario. After graduating from McGill University she went to England for a holiday and stayed on; she lives there still, with her husband and sons, though she returns to Canada every year. From the Hardcover edition.


Kate has escaped rural Ontario to lead the life of a distinguished zoologist, but she's drawn back to the siblings left at Crow Lake. Publishers in nine countries have bought the rights to this Canadian work, and that many publishers can't be wrong. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Four children living in northern Ontario struggle to stay together after their parents die in an auto accident in Lawson's fascinating debut, a compelling and lovely study of sibling rivalry and family dynamics in which the land literally becomes a character. Kate Morrison narrates the tale in flashback mode, starting with the fatal car accident that leaves seven-year-old Kate; her toddler sister, Bo; 19-year-old Luke; and 17-year-old Matt to fend for themselves. At first they are divided up among relatives, but the plan changes when Luke gives up his teaching college scholarship to get a job and try to keep them together. The fractured family struggles mightily against the grinding rural poverty of Crow Lake, and the brothers conduct a fierce battle of wills to control their fate, until they both finally land jobs and the family gets some assistance from a neighbor. Unfortunately, that assistance can't overcome the deranged rage of a neighboring farmer, Cyrus Pye, and when Matt becomes involved with Pye's daughter, Maria, a tragic incident robs the brilliant young man of a chance to pursue a career as a naturalist. Kate goes on to become a zoologist at a Toronto college and marry a fellow academic, but her frustration with her brother's fate renders her unable to return to Crow Lake to visit him until the pivotal climax. Lawson delivers a potent combination of powerful character writing and gorgeous description of the land. Her sense of pace and timing is impeccable throughout, and she uses dangerous winter weather brilliantly to increase the tension as the family battles to survive. This is a vibrant, resonant novel by a talented writer whose lyrical, evocative writing invites comparisons to Rick Bass and Richard Ford. (Mar.) Forecast: The combination of orphan protagonists and effortless prose makes this an irresistible first effort. Foreign rights have already been sold in nine countries, and similar enthusiasm should be expected in the U.S. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Adult/High School-Lawson sets her novel in a small farming community in northern Ontario. A mile or so away are the ponds-old gravel pits-where the Morrison children spend hours lying on their stomachs watching the life underwater. Seventeen-year-old Matt explains the wonders to his seven-year-old sister. The story begins with Kate thinking back on those days that shaped her adult life; when both parents were killed in a car accident, Luke, 19, took on the responsibility of caring for the family. Even with help from the community, bringing up a one-year-old and young Kate are frightening for him, and life is hard for all of the grief-stricken siblings. Eventually Matt drops out of school and settles in as a farmer, working for a neighbor who is an abusive husband and father. The adult Kate is a successful zoologist, but her past gets in the way of her relationship with Daniel. She can't discuss her early life and her feelings of disconnection from her family, especially beloved Matt, who, she feels, threw away his life. Kate reluctantly invites Daniel to Crow Lake with her for her nephew's birthday, where she finally comes to terms with the past. In this beautifully written first novel, the descriptions of the difficulties that the Morrisons face are real, painful, humorous, and agonizing, and the characters and the setting are well defined and easily visualized. This is not a fast-paced story, but it is hard to put down.-Sydney Hausrath, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

"A finely crafted debut ... conveys an astonishing intensity of emotion, almost Proustian in its sense of loss and regret."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review "The assurance with which Mary Lawson handles both reflection and violence makes her a writer to read and watch ... has a resonance at once witty and poignant."--New York Times Book Review "Crow Lake is the kind of book that keeps you reading well past midnight; you grieve when it's over. Then you start pressing it on friends."--Washington Post Book World "A touching meditation on the power of loyalty and loss, on the ways in which we pay our debts and settle old scores, and on what it means to love, to accept, to succeed--and to negotiate fate's obstacle courses."--People "Lawson's tight focus on the emotional and moral effects of a drastic turn of events on a small human group has its closest contemporary analogue in the novels of Ian McEwan."--Toronto Star

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