How many bloody points of views can one book have? I mean, how the hell is a reader supposed to keep up with the likes of Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman when every other chapter has a new character? Can you tell this isn’t going to be a good review?
We start with a death. A woman’s body has been found at the bottom of a fountain, the “lady in the lake”. While you’d assume the story would continue to be told in first person by that woman who died, Lippman switches it up. We then go to another woman, Madeleine “Maddie” Schwartz. She seems to be a perfect, normal housewife. But she is unsettled and bored with her life, on the cusp of leaving her marriage. Resolved to become a reporter, Maddie starts a job at a local newspaper.
As you’re slowly, I mean slowly, being dragged through these chapters, one has to be wondering what the connection is between these two woman are? What does Maddie’s story and that of a dead woman have anything to do with one another? Well, it gets even more difficult by the alternating chapters narrated by different characters that Maddie confronts throughout the story. Many of the characters who narrate appear to have nothing to do with the story. Although there are others who add insight into the life and death of the “lady in the lake” many of the narrations make it difficult to dissect whom you need to keep track of, and who you don’t.
Eventually we find out the woman in the fountain is an African-American named Cleo Sherwood. And let me add, that revelation only comes with the pace of snail towards the end. And just like that, with a gimmick, we find out why and how these two stories converge. In an unbelievably slow burn, we also come to terms with the self-discovery of Maddie, as she realises what she wants in life and how she can achieve it.
I’m assuming at this point you’ve realised I really didn’t like this book. I’ve made it clear in other reviews, I hate writing negative reviews, but this book was definitely not for me! Had it not been given to me as an ARC by the publisher, I never would have read it. Let’s just get all the negative stuff out there and say, I’m wholeheartedly not going to read another Lippman book again. Her writing style is not for me at all.
On a positive note, Lippman’s writing is stunning. She truly has a way with her words, and I felt like I was brought back into that era by her writing. If she were to lose the writing style — each chapter being a different narrator — and even lose the gimmicky ending, this could have been a fantastic mystery. There was so much potential in this book!
In many ways there’s no such thing as a bad book, but rather books one didn’t enjoy. I didn’t enjoy Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman. From too many POVs, to a gimmicky ending, I found this book to be disappointing. While the book did preserve my interest throughout, the negatives outweighed the positives. I’m going to have to pass on this book. It just wasn’t for me!
Thank you to William Morrow and Laura Lippman for an ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.