Crow Lake

by Mary Lawson | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: Global Overview for this book
Registered by Bookgirrl of Acton, Ontario Canada on 4/18/2006
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
9 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by Bookgirrl from Acton, Ontario Canada on Tuesday, April 18, 2006
A very good book. Takes place in Canada. Very real characters, very real lives. This is a UK version - cannot remember WHERE it came from. (!!!) Oh, the dilemma of having too many books! (A wonderful dilemma for a BC'er....) Well, in honour of BC's North American Conference, April 21 - 23rd in Toronto, I am sending it right back to the UK via post along with a copy of Harrowsmith Magazine. 'Hope it will be enjoyed over there!
"This book has the richness of times remembered, the agreeable melancholy of nostalgia and a deft humour" Mail on Sunday
"....Lawson's evocative storytelling.....knows just how to draw the reader on....." Spectator

Journal Entry 2 by Bookgirrl from Acton, Ontario Canada on Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Off I go to the UK!

Journal Entry 3 by LyzzyBee from Birmingham, West Midlands United Kingdom on Wednesday, May 17, 2006
How exciting! A lovely book along with the brill magazine. Madeleine - I did get your letter but I hope nothing else was in the package, as it had got torn in transit and came with the envelope in a sorry state, in a PO plastic bag. Book and mag are fine, letter and bookmark were there, hope that's all there was!

This book looks interesting, I just went to Hay on Wye so it'll be MONTHS before I read it - hope that's OK!

Journal Entry 4 by LyzzyBee from Birmingham, West Midlands United Kingdom on Sunday, September 3, 2006
And months it was - but I hope this glowing JE is worth the wait! I loved this! I love Canadian writing and I love small-town novels (well, actually, the setting of this one was more no-town than small-town!). The theme reminded me of an Anne Tyler and another book (possibly Jane Hamilton?), it was deftly and beautifully handled, with the flashbacks and present day sections nicely balanced, and a sense of the building of the story, and the narrator's journey, coming to a fine ending. Not all the loose ends tied, either, which I think always gives a more satisfying read.

A wonderful choice. I don't know if I'll end up keeping it forever, as I do try to pass on BC books when I can bear to - but I am going to offer it in my next set of bookrings (when some more of the current ones come back home!)

Thank you bookgirrl for an excellent choice!

Journal Entry 5 by LyzzyBee from Birmingham, West Midlands United Kingdom on Sunday, October 8, 2006

Usual rules apply...

Make a journal entry when you receive the book
Contact the next reader for their address when you are almost done
Post a review when you've read the book - please try to send it on within a month of receipt if you can
Make a journal entry or controlled release notes when you send the book on


Twynnie UK (anywhere)
Pammykn US-Florida (Overseas surface)
Mrsgaskell Canada (anywhere)
Cross-Patch UK (UK/EU)
Purplerosebud UK (UK) <==== asked to be skipped
AnglersRest UK (UK) <--- it's here

Journal Entry 6 by LyzzyBee from Birmingham, West Midlands United Kingdom on Saturday, October 14, 2006
This one's ready to go - PM'd twynnie for the first address!


Posting to Twynnie on Tuesday.

Journal Entry 8 by Twynnie from Royston, Hertfordshire United Kingdom on Thursday, October 19, 2006
This arrived yesterday but I didn't have time to journal it - I have one other bookring before it but it won't be too long before I can start reading it! I'm looking forward to it, thanks for sharing Lyzzybee!

Journal Entry 9 by Twynnie from Royston, Hertfordshire United Kingdom on Tuesday, October 31, 2006
This was more of a character study sort of book than a 'big plot' sort of book which isn't a bad thing. The characters are very vivid and the story isn't fast paced but has beautiful details like the descriptions of Kate and Matt's pond watching sessions. Overall a lovely book!

This was posted this mornig to Pammykn in Florida, I hope it arrives safely!

Journal Entry 10 by pammykn from Decatur, Alabama USA on Monday, November 6, 2006
Thanks rec'd today -- looing forward to reading!

Journal Entry 11 by pammykn from Decatur, Alabama USA on Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Nice read -- how a family faces tragedy & survives. Set in a distant, isolated farming area, emotions of characters reflect the setting. Thanks for sharing. Sending off to Mrsgaskell today.

Journal Entry 12 by wingrem_CJL-230711wing on Wednesday, November 22, 2006
This arrived safely today - the first bookray/ring book I have ever received! I have a book club selection to finish but this will be next on the TBR pile. Thanks!

Journal Entry 13 by wingrem_CJL-230711wing on Wednesday, November 29, 2006
This was interesting and well-written but not a particularly compelling read. The tone seemed flat and unemotional, perhaps because of the narrator’s background – she did say her family’s 11th commandment was “Do not emote”. I found the ending anticlimactic after the many references and hints about something that had come between her and her brother. The event itself was what I expected, but I did like Daniel’s view of her reaction to it.

Thanks for sharing LyzzyBee! I sent the book off to Cross-Patch earlier today (airmail since it wasn’t much more than surface in this case.)

Journal Entry 14 by wingCross-patchwing from Leicester, Leicestershire United Kingdom on Tuesday, December 5, 2006
Arrived today. I'm reading A Parchment of Leaves at the moment - Canadian season indeed. I am a recent convert to Canadian Literature, and Canadian music come to that!

Journal Entry 15 by wingCross-patchwing from Leicester, Leicestershire United Kingdom on Monday, January 8, 2007
Beautiful book. It is one for re-reading and savouring. I admit, I finished it a few days ago - and then came down with the 'flu, so didn't feel like thinking and analysing! I remember the calm of it, the portrayal of homeliness coupled with an empty longing for 'family' and I carried a dread about Matt's troubles all the way to the end. Isn't it such a correct picture of life that this turned out to be of such little import to an outsider's eye?! Thank you everybody involved for getting this piece of art to my door.
I have the address for AnglersRest and shall post it tomorrow. Happy reading indeed.

Journal Entry 16 by AnglersRest from Teignmouth, Devon United Kingdom on Thursday, January 11, 2007
I am so looking forward to reading this book, which arrived today. This brings my ring pile to 8 rings, so it will be a few weeks before it reaches the top.

Journal Entry 17 by AnglersRest from Teignmouth, Devon United Kingdom on Thursday, January 25, 2007
Written in almost a matter of fact style, Narrated by Kate with a flash back to her childhood and the events that took place.

Set in an isolated farming district in Canada, Kate lives with her baby sister,two older brothers and their parents. Upon hearing the news that their eldest son has been accepted to train as a teacher they venture into town to purchase a suitcase. They have a car accident and suddenly they are gone leaving four stunned children.

Written from Kate perspective, about her relationship with her siblings and how they cope and the sacrifices they make to ensure they stay together and manage to survive. This was an emotional story, yet written in such a style that there was no real emotion displayed by the narrator.

There were several loose ends, and I would like to have had a couple more chapters whilst the author developed the relationship between Matt and Kate, once Kate discovers that her relationship with her brother has become the way it has.

Nevertheless, it was a pager turner, and I read this as a bedtime read over the last two nights.

Journal Entry 18 by Bookgirrl from Acton, Ontario Canada on Friday, February 16, 2007
Hello fans of Crow Lake: Below is an article from The National Post (slightly right-wing newspaper in Canada, formerly owned by the notorious Conrad Black!!!) Written by Robert Fulford, one of our better known culture writers (and a very good one). Here goes......

Author Uncovers a Remote Possibility:
Lawson Re-invents Rural Literature for a New Century

Unlike most authors, Mary Lawson can tell you precisely how she came to write fiction. In her thirties, she read a famous J. D. Salinger story, For Esme - with Love and Squalor. "That was the trigger," she said when I called her recently at her home in England to ask her about her brilliant career. "I thought, 'How I would like to be able to do something like that !' "
Many years later, in 2002, her first novel, Crow Lake, enchanted readers and reviewers in several countries. Last fall, her second, The Other Side of the Bridge, attracted similar admiration and won a place on the Man Booker long list. Both are set in Northern Ontario villages so small that nearby New Liskeard (pop. 5,112) looks like a metropolis.
For a Lawson admirer, the Salinger story is revealing. The two children who dominate its first scene are orphans and orphans are a major Lawson concern. Crow Lake begins with four children orphaned by an accident. The Other Side of the Bridge has two major characters who lose parents suddenly. And, like Salinger, Lawson can tell a heart-breaking tale without sentimentality, by entwining it with humour and carefully observed detail.
I assumed she had goiwn up, like her character, in the north. But she spent her chidlhood and adolescence in Blackwell, a south-western Ontario village that's now a suburb of Sarnia, where her father worked as a research chemist. (NOTE: Sarnia is a major oil refining city). She went to McGill, studied psychology and moved to England in 1968 to take a job as an industrial psychologist. She married Richard Lawson, a fellow psychologist, and settled down. Boys play larger roles than girls in her books, perhaps because both of her children are males (now in their thirties) and because she had older brothers when she was little.
After finding her vocation, she wrote short fiction for women's magazines, then attempted a novel. She planned to spend two years on it, spent five instead and decided it was no good.
She wrote more stories to rebuild her confidence, and one turned out to be about farming in Canada. That led her to begin what turned into Crow Lake. It took five years to write and three more to find a publisher.
She wanted to convey the claustrophobic intensity that people experience in a small town but she knew it would no longer be plausible in somewhere like Blackwell. Good roads have made it impossible to consider that kind of place remote. So she moved her characters up north, where isolation seems more credible.
Having only recently caught up with her work, I read both books within a couple of weeks, a method that emphasizes their similarities. In both, men marry women who are already pregnant. Both echo the Biblical story of Jacob and Esau through boys troubled by the cleverness of younger brothers.
Lawson has an exceptional talent for foreshadowing. She hints cleverly at momentous events to come, always in a way that enlarges her story. She shifts back and forth in time with remarkable skill; readers won't be surprised to learn she places Alice Munro first among living writers.
One book has a murder and the other, a near-murder, and in Crow Lake there's a family that passes anger and violence on from generation to generation. But Lawson devotes uncommon attention to the subject of decency. Typically, her characters display goodness through dedication to their craft. The Other Side of the Bridge treats farm work with a respect it's seldom granted in current literature. Lawson wants us to know that a good farmer, aside from having the intuition that tells him what will grow and when it will grow, needs also to be a mechanic, a carpenter, a bookkeeper and something of a veterinarian. He needs great patience - and an infinite capacity for hard work. She clearly considers it unjust that her character, Arthur Dunn, exhibits all these qualities but is nevertheless considered a dullard because he failed in high school.
Book-learning, by tradition the escape route from small-town life, burdens some Lawson characters and distorts their view of each other. Kate, the narrator in Crow Lake, considers her clever brother Matt a failure beacuse he's a farmer instad of a professor of zoology like her. Typically, Lawson animates this family tension through the way Kate and Matt see the non-human world. When Kate is a child and Matt an adolescent, they spend hours together, staring into the dark water of a pond, studying frogs, catfish, newts and especially the water striders, predatory insects that walk on water, held up by the surface tension.
Matt's lessons in how to see nature make Kate's career in science possible. Many years later, when he inquires about her research, she says she's studying the effects of detergents and pesticides on surface insects, like the water striders. But she feels there's something wrong about her explaining it to Matt, the one who should be doing it. He may be a happy farmer, but she knows, or thinks she knows, that he should be a scholar.
She considers his life tragic. Fortunatately her boyfriend (another scholar) tells her she's dead wrong. Matt's career may be a disappointment, but hardly a tragedy. "The tragedy is that you think it's so important you're letting it destroy the relationship the two of you had." Lawson handles family and small-town dramas with such intensity and skill that issues like feel like crises.
The Other Side of the Bridge places itself within Canadian history. War invades the town of Struan, several young men die at Dieppe and one comes home so damaged that he kills himself. German prisoners of war are recruited to help out on the farms. Lawson begins each chapter with actual headlines from the Tamiskaming Speaker, setting their banality ("Speckled Trout Season Starts on Saturday") against the passion and violence beneath the town's surface.
Early on, I imagined Lawson had found a new way to deal with the traditional novel of farm life. But as I moved deeper into her work I decided something larger was happening here. Mary Lawson, working with her memories and her exquisite sense of form, has done nothing less than re-invent the rural Canadian novel to fit her needs and the 21st century. (National Post,

Journal Entry 19 by Bookgirrl from Acton, Ontario Canada on Friday, February 16, 2007
Acckkk! So many typos....I think they're all gone now.

Released 14 yrs ago (6/30/2007 UTC) at BCUK Unconvention 2007 in Brighton & Hove, East Sussex United Kingdom



Taking to the UnConvention!

Journal Entry 21 by thing-1 from London, Greater London United Kingdom on Sunday, October 11, 2009
Bad bookcrosser, Bad Bookcrosser, must have had this on my shelf for years and am horrified to discover that I have never registered it. Can I pin it all on 3 small children and an acute case of nappy brain?

To add insult to injury I remember that I really enjoyed this book at the time, but can't remember anything about it now. (sigh)

Hope it is found by someone with some grey matter still in tact.

Journal Entry 22 by thing-1 at South Park Gardens in Wimbledon, Greater London United Kingdom on Sunday, October 11, 2009

Released 12 yrs ago (10/11/2009 UTC) at South Park Gardens in Wimbledon, Greater London United Kingdom



This book has such a long history and is so well travelled that I really hope you will become a part of its journey.
I am releasing this book as part of my 40 before 40 birthday/bookcrossing release challenge.

I hope you find it & enjoy it & have a chuckle at the weirdness that is bookcrossing :-)

Journal Entry 23 by wingAnonymousFinderwing on Tuesday, May 18, 2010
This book was left in my church library in Wimbledon, London, UK. It will be placed in Wimbledon Station waiting room, where books in similar schemes to yours can be left for people to take away.


Journal Entry 24 by Bookgirrl from Acton, Ontario Canada on Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Things really do go in circles don't they? I just read the new Journal Entry from Anonymous, in Wimbledon (which, co-incidentally is where my cousins live) after JUST buying another copy of this book at my fave 2nd hand bookstore.
New copy up for grabs if anyone is interested.
I must read another Lawson book soon....

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