On Mystic Lake

Sort of Review, Maybe Just Thoughts  omlbykh On Mystic Lake by Kristin Hannah, Ballantine Books 1999, 404 pages

First Sentence:

Rain fell like tiny silver teardrops from the tired sky.

MOTIVATION FOR READING:   My friend KB is earnestly attempting to convince me that Kristin Hannah is AWESOME!   Yet, for some reason – perhaps a not quite enthusiastic review somewhere of Firefly Lane, I’ve not been in any hurry to try any of Hannah’s books.    I did place* Firefly Lane on my tbr last year.   I was happy that when KB asked me if I’d read anything by this wonderful author; I could at least say that I’d heard of her.

WHAT IT’s ABOUT:    A woman who is leading a ‘wonderful’ life – gorgeous successful husband, awesome house in Malibu, expensive clothes, etc –  says goodbye to her daughter as the kid ‘leaves the nest’ and gets double-whammied with LOSS when her husband wants a divorce.    So she runs home to the small town of Mystic, Washington and looks for the woman she used to be and wonders how she became the woman she is now.

WHAT’s GOOD:  The writing is strong.  and consistent.    Descriptions of places and moods and feelings are very effective, some quite beautiful.     If you like to cry, this book gives many opportunities to let the tear drops fly.     I cried a lot, it seemed.     So, I give credit to the author for skillfully pulling the heart to tearduct strings.   I was also quite touched by her quick understanding and forgiveness of her father’s bumper sticker wisdom.     I do believe that Ms. Hannah deserves to be a successful author and I am happy that she has a devoted following.   My friend KB is a smart sassy fun beautiful woman that I admire – if Kristin Hannah is one of her favorite authors, then I have high respect for that!

WHAT’s NOT so GOOD:   Me. I’m extremely HYPER-critical in my reading of books like this.    And I don’t know why or what it is that does it.    Maybe I am too sensitive as a 40+ year old woman to read about disasters and emotional roller coaster rides of 40+year old women.     But RIGHT OFF THE BAT, I was rolling my eyes at the idea of perfect life lady having – for what seems like the first time in her life – a crisis to analyze:  “Woe is me, how did my perfect life just get F*&%-ed up?”  in sad astonishment.

It bugged me that she mentions that she hadn’t been to Mystic in 10 years.    I don’t buy a ‘nice wonderful loving woman’ NOT to go visit her father at his home in that long of a stretch – especially when she couldn’t excuse it with lack of cash or time-sucking career ambitions.

And, it took too long for the book to realize the shared loss of a mother connection to the relationship of Annie to Izzie.      And, it took way to long for Annie to wake up to the louse of her husband.         And, she never once confronts a dilemma about being wealthy – or not.   Just one quick dismissal that none of ‘the stuff’ means anything.   Yea, right.

FINAL THOUGHTS:      It’s really not as bad as I’m nitpicking here.    I really meant to attack my own hypercriticalness and not this novel.   I just wonder why I’m so antagonistic.   (Freud?  where are you?)    The writing is fine.     It IS effective if you want to cry for sad stories that end happy.   (oops – spoiler!?)      Softdrink asks in a recent post:   do you want deep meaning or a nice story when you read a book?     I think I need both – I like to switch it up and must read a variety.    I’ve read and enjoyed a few ‘story but no deepness’ books, I think.    On Mystic Lake would be a nice story minus my analysis – go for the ride of it and enjoy a good cry.     (And when you need symbolism on crack and intense analysis, check out A Prayer for Owen Meany!)

Rating:     Three Pie

*  I put Firefly Lane on my goodreads.com wishlist long before I was keeping track of whose review inspired me to do so.    I have True Colors on the list, too.

DO YOU EVER FEEL LIKE YOU BRING TOO MUCH ANALYZATION TO A BOOK?   How do you turn it off and just enjoy?     or should I just skip books like this?


11 thoughts on “On Mystic Lake

  1. When I need a light read, I fetch one of my comfort books – I normally don’t go looking for something new. That way I know I’ll enjoy the book without over-analyzing or becoming super critical. On the other hand, it does slightly limit the number of books available to me for this purpose…

  2. Sometimes I think I’m too harsh on chick-lit novels, I mean they’re just for fun right? Then I’ll find one that just blows me away with it’s smartness and its awareness, suddenly I know I have the right to expect all chick-lit to be as cool. Maybe if ‘Smart Bitches’ didn’t exist I’d be a bit more worried about my need to analyse all books, but as they think romance deserves proper analysis I see myself as being just as normal as them.

  3. With some books, I can suspend belief just fine and with others, I find myself saying, “Oh, come on!” and I’m not sure why. I guess we all have things that bother us in works of fiction.

  4. @Jenny – I have never been a good re-reader. In fact, the only time I’ve knowingly re-read a book (I have done so by accident!) is the Chronicles of Narnia and they weren’t as good as my memory of them so I am very shy to re-read favorites. I marvel at people who re-read books, especially over and over and over. I wouldn’t know what to pick either. I do like to watch movies over and over, though.

    @Jodie – I try not and don’t want to be a snob about classifying genres or to be dismissive a certain category of book. And I am also influenced by my moods in what book I like when. so who knows! Why even ask the question, right? I’ll just keep reading and hopefully enjoying all I read. 🙂

    @Kathy/BermudaOnion – right! Why even try to figure it out. Like food, I guess – you either like coconut or you don’t. Does it really matter? We do tend to take books a bit more personally. We want people to like the same books we’ve loved, don’t you think? oh well.

  5. See now, all of the things you said you didn’t like would totally be things that I would pick up on as well. Then I can’t connect with the person that I’m supposed to feel sorry for and the rest of the book falls flat for me. But I guess this one must be able to overcome that because you did say you cried. So…maybe I’ll give Hannah a try.

  6. “Freud, where are you?!” LOL! I also analyze why I have a strong (critical) reaction to some books. If it got you thinking, maybe it was a worthwhile read, even if you didn’t enjoy the book so much …

  7. Hmmm. Symbolism on crack sounds interesting, LOL.

    I hope my “blah”ness towards Firefly Lane doesn’t put you completely off. I was told repeatedly how wrong I was about that book, to the point where I finally did go back and finish it- with much skimming. I was still “blah” about it, though, so I never wrote a complete review, and now I’ve donated my copy to the library so I won’t be reviewing it (I have to have the book in front of me to review it!). I’ll be interested to see what you think about it.

    BTW, the nit-picky things that bothered you would have totally bothered me too.

  8. Pingback: The Girl Who Stopped Swimming « Care's Online Book Club

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