The tremors from the recurring earthquakes rattled her more now than they had in the ten years she had lived in Japan. Lucy Jarett blamed it on being recently unemployed–too much time on her hands. When she received conflicting emails from her mother and her brother Blake about a car accident her mother had been in, she decided it was a time to make the trip home to the Finger Lakes of New York to the little rural town of The Lake of Dreams.
At home, she discovers a letter to her great-grandfather about a young girl named Iris. The letter is simply signed “R”. She is compelled to find out who “R” is after inquiring with the family and searching family photos and finding no one with that initial. Along with the letter, she found a cloth with an intricately woven pattern of moons.
Lucy’s family had long had a fascination with the moon and the constellations. They celebrated the solar solstice with parties and celebrations the way most of us would celebrate the 4th of July. She reunites with a lost love interest at the solstice party who makes blown glass and restores stained glass windows. That same pattern in the cloth is discovered in a stained glass window he is restoring for a local church.
The main theme of the story is, “Who is ‘R’ and who is Iris? ” What happened to her and how does it connect to her family today? Lucy is on a genealogy search that reveals secrets the family kept hidden for generations.
Many subplots prevail to complicate her search starting with so many different groups that are interested in the land where the church now sits. They include the native Indians, a group of families that had been ousted when the government seized the land during the war, the environmentalists… and of course, the greedy developers that see it as prime real estate. Add to the mix a broken relationship with Lucy and her mother and a drop of rekindled romance. Many of these plots muddle the waters a little and take away from the main plot, but each issue is intriguing unto itself.
Despite our book club giving very mixed reviews to the Memory Keeper’s Daughter author, I liked the book, especially the genealogy hunt and the cause for equal rights for women. I loved the old letters discovered and wondered about the choices of women in the early 1900’s. The attention to detail of the landscape was vivid and colorful. Some of the girls found it disconnected and poorly written. With such diversity in thought, you will need to read it yourself and form your own opinion.
Joanne Tailele has been a full time resident of Marco Island for two years. Born in Youngstown, her last “home” for 12 years was Columbus, Ohio. Between Joanne and her husband, she has six children and nine grandchildren. She works as a receptionist for a local real estate company.