On Mystic Lake…
Annie Colwater’s husband has just confessed that he’s in love with a younger woman. Devastated, Annie retreats to the small town where she grew up. There, she is reunited with her first love, Nick Delacroix, a recent widower who is unable to cope with his silent, emotionally scarred young daughter. Together, the three of them begin to heal. But just when Annie believes she’s been given a second chance at happiness, her world is turned upside down again, and she is forced to make a choice that no woman in love should ever have to make.
Another enjoyable novel by Kristin Hannah. On Mystic Lake is an honest and reflective account of what can happen to a person when they get lost within their own lives.
Annie, the main character, was such a lovely woman and I enjoyed watching her evolve into a stronger person who, by the end of the novel, had a much truer sense of her own self-worth. I particularly appreciated the way Kristin mirrored Annie’s new life with her old life, pitting the differences between Nick and Blake as a defining state of being. Annie, who had for so long defined herself as a mother first and wife second, was only able to truly see herself with clarity when acting out these roles within another context. The glaring deficiencies that had existed within her marriage for so long at last became apparent. These two men, Nick and Blake, were so vastly different from each other, both in the way they needed Annie as well as in the way they demonstrated their love for her. One was all encompassing while the other was more restrained and manipulative, although I believe that both men loved her a lot, but only one was truly deserving of her.
It’s all too easy to judge a character and moan and groan because they ‘pick the wrong guy’ and ‘keep making the same mistake’, but in real life, how often do we see this very thing happen? While some of the characters and situations were stereotypical, Kristin Hannah’s talent as a writer lies in her ability to craft characters who act in a highly realistic manner. Nick is a classic example of this. His struggles and failures paved the way to his redemption, and while there were times I wanted to reach into the novel and shake him, I knew that if he had acted in any other way – taken a short cut to happiness or an unrealistically short amount of time to recover from his challenges – then I would have been disappointed and overcome by a sense of having been cheated out of that ‘real life magic’ that Kristin Hannah sprinkles throughout each of her novels.
The most wonderful aspect of this novel was the way in which it demonstrated the healing power of a loving and nurturing family environment. Izzy was such a heart breakingly damaged little girl at the beginning of this story, but by the time Annie was through with her, she was far more adjusted and certainly on her way towards a path of healing and happiness. Her tactics for managing her grief really brought a tear to my eye on more than one occasion and I think the whole character of Izzy was developed with a great deal of sensitivity and intelligence.
I am slowly making my way through Kristin Hannah’s backlist, having first come to her work through The Nightingale, which had a profound impact on me. So far, none of her novels are disappointing me and I can clearly see why she is so popular. She has quickly worked her way onto my list of authors whose work I follow and is sure to remain there.