"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." — Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Sunday, April 11, 2010

On Mystic Lake by Kristin Hannah

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Summary: Housewife Annie is lost after she and her husband separate and she moves back to her home town.

My husband asked me, "Is that the Sean Penn movie you're reading?" and I said, "No, that's Mystic River, not On Mystic Lake." I was so disappointed in On Mystic Lake. Kristin Hannah writes such well-thought out, full, compelling characters that I had really high expectations. (Firefly Lane is amazing!) When Annie's teenage daughter leaves for a semester abroad, Annie thinks she and her husband can finally reconnect. Instead, he tells her he's in love with another woman and leaving her. Cliche, sure, but Hannah would handle it well, I believed. Annie spent her whole life being a mom, and housekeeper, so I thought this would be a novel about finding yourself, and what makes you happy. So Annie runs home to Mystic River and her father and promptly hooks up with her high school sweetheart, Nick, who married her best friend, Kathy. Kathy committed suicide eight months ago, leaving a floundering Nick, and lonely daughter Izzy, who became mute suddenly and is convinced she's disappearing. Annie becomes Izzy's housekeeper, despite her father's concern. Annie rants to him, "You told me I need to find a project. What am I supposed to do - cure cancer? I'm a wife and mother. That's all I know. All I am." Okay, Annie, how about finding a therapist? Or a career counselor? Did feminism pass Mystic River by? Ridiculous. Especially since she starts living at Nick's house, cooking meals, planting a garden, doing crafts. Finally, Annie's friend Terry asks what I was hoping to ask Annie, "You just spent twenty years waiting for a a man to come home - now you're waiting for another man?" Exactly, Terry. Apparently, it's fine to be a housekeeper/wife/mother if it's the right man, and he doesn't cheat on you. I was so disappointed. Co-dependent love story - almost worrisome, overly-sentimental reflection, but no real growth in any of the characters.

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