Monday, February 16, 2015

The Glass Lake by Maeve Binchy

glass lake The Glass Lake by Maeve Binchy
Released: 1994
First read: October 2012
Source: bought/Trade paperback

Goodreads | Amazon

Kit McMahon lives in the small Irish town of Lough Glass, where everyone knows everyone; children who walk to school together grow up and become sweethearts and marry, people gossip and grumble and dream their lives away. For it is a place where change comes slowly. 

One day, Kit's mother disappears and the town gossips run wild with stories. The consequences for Helen's husband, her son, but above all for her daughter, Kit, are unimaginable and will leave not one of their lives unchanged. (from Goodreads)

The Glass Lake is the story of lives, lives affected by secrets and lies and choices made by a handful of people. We watch as the consequences of those choices shape the lives of so many people over a span of about ten years. Naturally for a story that has to span that amount of time, it took some time also to get into it. It took at least 100 pages (which isn't much considering how long it is) and a couple hundred more before I absolutely could not put it down.

I thought this was an incredible concept, because it's so real. This is a book about real life - with some dramatization, obviously. This is not a story about horrible events that are tied up in a pretty little bow in the matter of a few days, weeks, months. No, this is about the effects over years, because that's how long choices affect people - years, lifetimes even.

At first I was not fond of the writing style, broken up into sometimes tiny segments of certain POVs. Those POVs could be main characters or characters only mentioned a few times in the story. But as the book progressed, I came to realize just how essential that was for the purpose that Binchy was trying to accomplish. I realized how brilliant it was, that every single part, no matter how inconsequential each piece seemed at the time, was crucial to the entire story. If you skip those seemingly small bits, you will miss out on the ultimate point of the story and only see it in a shallow, maybe even dull form.

Beyond the theme of choices and consequences, Binchy also explores different types of romances. I stress the word romance, because it is made clear in this book that romance does not mean love. There were only a couple of romance plot lines that are considered true love. Then Binchy also explores the love/relationship between parent and child. She really does span most every type of relationship in this novel - brilliantly. The length was most definitely needed to do that, and while it was imposing and daunting when I opened the book to the first page, as I finished reading the last I knew that if it was any shorter it would not have been as meaningful. Which it was. It left me thinking well into the night. I finished at 1AM  and could not get to sleep at least until 3 because I could not stop thinking about all that had happened.

There are some characters that I can gush over. I could gush for days about how much I love Stevie Sullivan. I could gush over how much I want to give Emmet McMahon the biggest hug in the world. I could go on and on about how much I admire Kit McMahon and how she handled her life after making one of the worst mistakes anyone could make - burning a letter of explanation that her mother left to her father after she left him. I admire her adult decisions and how those decisions affected so many people in a good way, which in my eyes was an unconscious atonement for her burning the letter.

An atonement very similar to that of her mother, Lena Gray, who spent her life after leaving her children changing so many people's lives for the better that it was sometimes too easy to overlook the fact that she left her children in the first place. There are times when it is very easy to despise Lena, but it is very easy to love her too. She's a character who placed her heart in the wrong hands, and she paid the ultimate price for it. Her's is truly a tragic tale, and that is because it was her own fault and she knew that.

And on that note, there are quite a few characters who I would like nothing more than too punch them in the face (which, thank God, actually does happen). There are the shallow people, the snooty people, the people who can't see beyond their mirror. There were also the side characters who were lovely and interesting and I wanted nothing but the best for them. It would be easy to say that every type of person is represented somehow in this book, but of course that is not true as much as it isn't possible.

I think this book will haunt me for years to come. Though half way through I couldn't see myself giving it more than 4 stars, I give it 5 now because of that fact alone - it will haunt me in the best way possible. The end made me yearn to see these characters again, which won't happen, but a girl can dream!

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