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The Lake of Dreams

At a crossroads in her life, Lucy Jarrett returns home to upstate New York from Japan, only to find herself haunted by her father’s unresolved death a decade ago, and by old longings stirred up by Keegan Fall, a local glass artist who was once her passionate first love. Late one night she discovers, locked in a window seat of her family's rambling lakeside home, a collection of objects that first appear to be idle curiosities, but soon reveal glimpses of a hidden family history. As Lucy explores these traces of her lineage—from an heirloom blanket and dusty political tracts to a web of allusions depicted in stained-glass windows, both in her hometown and beyond—a new family history emerges, one that will link her to a unique slice of the suffragist movement, and yield dramatic insights that will free her to live her life to its fullest and deepest.

With revelations as captivating as the deceptions at the heart of her best-selling phenomenon, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, Kim Edwards now gives us the story of a woman’s homecoming to the lake of her childhood, and the discovery of a secret past that will alter her understanding of her heritage, and herself, forever. A powerful family narrative and a story of love lost and found, The Lake of Dreams is an arresting novel in which every vibrant detail emerges as an organic piece of a puzzle. With her gifts for lyricism, suspense, and masterly storytelling, Kim Edwards’s new novel will delight those who loved The Memory Keeper’s Daughter.



I was a student when Halley’s comet returned in 1986. I saw it from a field outside of Iowa City, and I remember being disappointed by how faint and unspectacular it was for its only appearance during my lifetime--in other years, it has appeared much larger. I also remember thinking that the comet, with its regular return every 76 years, would be a great way to tie a multi-generational novel together.

I had always wanted to set a novel in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, where I grew up. As I began to read about the area with an adult perspective, I became fascinated with its rich layers of history. The more I read about the social reform movements of the early 20th century, especially the women’s suffrage movement, centered in Seneca Falls, the more intrigued I became about those events, and about the way they continue to reverberate in the present. In my lifetime, too, dramatic social changes have happened, including the ordination of women after centuries of exclusion from the priesthood and church leadership. I spent several intriguing days in glass studios while researching this book, and tried my hand at glass blowing. As I wrote, the stories of the past and present began to interweave and shape each other.




“Kim Edwards has, in fact, done it again, riveting us to her story”

California Literary Review


“Her latest novel, set in the Finger Lakes region of her native New York, is another tour de force tale that showcases her talent for engaging readers immediately and, her agile prose would argue, effortlessly.”

Louisville Courier-Journal

“The Lake of Dreams is a vivid and beautifully written saga about the powerful way that a family’s past can shape its present.”

Winnipeg Free Press

“A satisfying mix of compassion and intrigue.”


“Beautifully plotted and breathtakingly accomplished, the work of a very fine writer.”

–The Daily and Sunday Express

“Once again, Edwards (The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, 2005) has created a memorable cast of characters . . . This is a powerful story about the influence of history, the importance of our beliefs, and the willingness to embrace them all.”


“Gorgeously written…. luminously beautiful.”

–The Dallas Morning News

“I fell in love with Lucy. . .her struggle to face up to herself and her own happiness kept me gripped until the end.”

-The Irish Independent


–Good Housekeeping

“Edwards’ prose is precise and vivid throughout and at times her descriptions positively soar.”

—Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Beautifully written, with vivid imagery and emotion, this book shines with artistry. Edwards has another winner here, and I look forward to reading more of her work.”





Although it is nearly midnight, an unusual light slips through a crack in the wool, brushing her arm like the feathers of a wing. In the next room her parents sleep, and the darkened village is silent, but she has lain awake all these hours and now she climbs out of bed, the floorboards rough against her feet. For weeks people have talked of nothing but the comet, how the earth will pass through clouds of poison vapors in its tail, how the world could end. She is fifteen, and all day she and her brother helped seal the house--windows, doors, even the chimney—with thick black wool, hammers tapping everywhere as their neighbors did the same.

The narrow triangle of strange light touches her here, then there, as she crosses the room. She is wearing her blue dress, almost outgrown, the worn cotton soft against her skin. In this room, a low space over the shop that is hers alone, the wool is only loosely fastened to the window, and when she yanks a corner the cloth falls away, pale comet light swimming all around. She pushes the window open and takes a breath: one, and then another, deeper. Nothing happens. No poison gas, no searing lungs--only the watery spring, the scents of growing things and, distantly, the sea.

And this odd light. The constellations are as familiar as the lines on her own palms, so she does not have to search to find the comet. It soars high, a streaming jewel, circling the years, thrilling and portentous. Distantly a dog barks, and the chickens rustle and complain in their coops. Soft voices rise, mingling, her brother’s and another, one she knows; her heart quickens with anger and yearning both. She hesitates. She has not planned this moment--the turning point of her life, it will become. Yet it is also no impulse that pulls her onto the window ledge, her bare feet dangling a few yards above the garden. She is dressed, after all. She left the wool loose on purpose. All day she has been dreaming of the comet, its wild and fiery beauty, what it might mean, how her life might change.
The voices rise, and she then leaps.


Chapter 1

My name is Lucy Jarrett, and before I knew about the girl in the window, before I went home and stum bled on the fragments and began to piece the story back together, I found m yself living in a village near the sea in Japan. It had been a spring of little earthquakes and that night I woke abruptly, jarred fro m a dream . Footsteps faded in the cobblestone lane and distant trains rumbled; I listened harder until I could make out the surge of the sea. But that was all. Yoshi’s hand rested on m y hip lightly, as if we were s till dancing, which we’d been doing earlier in the evening, m usic from the radio soft i n the dark kitchen, our steps slowing until we stopped altogether and stood kissing in the jasmine air.

I lay back down, curving toward his warmth. In the dream I’d gone back to the lake where I’d grown up. I didn’ t want to go, but I did. The sky was overcast, the faded green cabin—which I’d seen before, but only in dreams—musty and overhung with trees. Its windows were cr acked, opaque with dust and snow. I walked past it to the shore, walked out onto the thick, translucent ice. I walked until I came to them . So many people, living their lives just beneath the surface. I caught them in glimpses, fell to my knees, pressed my palms against the glassy surface—so thick, so clear, so cold. I’ d put them here, so mehow, I knew that. I’ d left them for so long. Their hair stirred in underwater currents, and their eyes, wh en they met mine, were full of a longing that matched my own.

The window shades were trembling. I tensed, caught between the earthquakes and the dream, but it was just a distant train, fading into the mountains. Every night for a week I’d had this same dream, stirred up by the shifting earth, stirring up the past. It took me back to a night when I was seventeen, wild and restless, sliding off the back of Keegan Fall’s motorcycle, apple blossoms as pale as stars above us. I fanned my fingers against his chest before he left, the engine ripping through the night.

My father was in the garden when I turned toward the house. Moonlight caught the gray in his short hair; the tip of his cigarette burned, rising, falling. Lilacs and early roses floated in the darkness. Nice of you to show up, he said. I’m sorry you worried, I told him . A silence, the scents of lake water and com post and green shoots spli tting open the dark earth, and then he said, Want to go fishing with me, Lucy? How about it? It’s been a long time. His words were wistful, and I remembered getting up before dawn to meet him, struggling to carry the tackle box as we crossed the lawn to the boat. I wanted to go fishing, to accept my father’s invitation, but I wanted more to go upstairs to think about Keegan Fall. So I turned away, and in a tone much sharper than I meant, I said, Dad. Really. I’m hardly little anymore.

Those were the last words I ever spoke to him . Hours later, waking to sunlight and urgent voices, I ran downstairs and across the dew-struck lawn to the shore, where they had pulled my father from the lake. My mother was kneeling in the shallow water, touching his cheek with her fingertips. His lips and skin were bluish . There we re traces of foa m in the corn er of his mouth, and his eyelids were oddly iri descent. Like a fish, I thought, a crazy thought, but at least it silenced the other thoughts, which were worse, and which have never left me: If I’d gone. If I’d been there. If only I’d said yes.