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Crow Lake cover art

Crow Lake

Written by: Mary Lawson
Narrated by: Amelia Sargisson
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Publisher's Summary

Crow Lake is that rare find, a first novel so quietly assured, so emotionally pitch-perfect, you know from the opening moment that this is the real thing - a literary experience in which to lose yourself, by an author of immense talent.

Here is a gorgeous, slow-burning story set in the rural “badlands” of Northern Ontario, where heartbreak and hardship are mirrored in the landscape. For the farming Pye family, life is a Greek tragedy where the sins of the fathers are visited on the sons, and terrible events occur - offstage.

Centerstage are the Morrisons, whose tragedy looks more immediate if less brutal, but is, in reality, insidious and divisive. Orphaned young, Kate Morrison was her older brother Matt’s protegee, her fascination for pond life fed by his passionate interest in the natural world. Now a zoologist, she can identify organisms under a microscope but seems blind to the state of her own emotional life. And she thinks she’s outgrown her siblings - Luke, Matt, and Bo - who were once her entire world.

In this universal drama of family love and misunderstandings, of resentments harbored and driven underground, Lawson ratchets up the tension with heartbreaking humor and consummate control, continually overturning one’s expectations right to the very end. Tragic, funny, unforgettable, Crow Lake is a quiet tour de force that will catapult Mary Lawson to the forefront of fiction writers today.

©2002 Mary Lawson (P)2021 Penguin Random House Canada

What the critics say

Crow Lake is a remarkable novel, utterly gripping and yet highly literate. I read it in a single sitting, then I read it again, just for pleasure. I await her next work with eagerness (and a little envy).” (Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat)

“I didn’t read Crow Lake so much as I fell in love with it. This is one beautiful book.” (David Macfarlane, author of Summer Gone

"A finely crafted debut...conveys an astonishing intensity of emotion, almost Proustian in its sense of loss and regret." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)   

What listeners say about Crow Lake

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Quiet Drama. Grief and Foreshadowing

Amazing storytelling. From the first few pages I was waiting for the shoe to drop, wondering what else would befall this orphaned family. the grief of the small family occassionally intertwined with the dark history of the small town - it made for a tense read.

But at the same time the prose was so good, I could see the ponds, the small hamlet of Crow Lake, I could see the families. I have never felt such a yearning to visit Northern Canada.

The main protagonist, Kate, is extremely flawed. You see her emotional fragility as a grief stricken child, to her emotionness adulthood, with her ack of self reflection/lack of self observation. The only area that was not believeable was her relationship with Daniel.

It was a wonderful book.

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A really good story

I chose to read this book gor an english class and I have never read a better book in school (that was mandatory at least). It’s just a great book and definitely recommended to anyone who likes a more real, down to earth story.

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Meh..

Im from Northern Ontario, and was eager for this story, but it fell a little flat. I'd give it a 6 or 7 out of 10.

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  • TC
  • 2022-08-23

Sad, difficult but a really solid well-told story

This was a hard, sad story, lots of family loss and struggle but there was also hope and it was good to see the narrator grow and recognize her own flawed perspective.
I did not love the way Amelia Sargisson read - too overly enunciated - other than for some of the older townspeople; those voices she did really well.

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Wonderfully written!

Knowing Mary Lawson is Canadian drew me to this book, but ironically after a Scottish friend recommended this book.
It starts off slow, but not in a boring fashion at all, more like a ‘slow burn of anticipation’, culminating in an exciting tale and gentle ending.
Loved it!
On to find another Lawson novel….

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i liked it

i listened to this for a class. it’s not normally a book i would choose but i throughly enjoyed it.

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Highly recommended

I loved everything about this story. It was well written, insightful, and engrossing. Although it is fictional it could easily be an autobiographical account, with characters that are true to life, especially Kate, whose point of view the tale is told from. I felt sad when it ended, but the last chapters were very satisfying, and I am thrilled that it's part one of a trilogy. Can't wait to start the next book! This one was a treat.