Mini Review of Mary Lawson’s Crow Lake

 

An excellent novel set in northern Ontario where the harsh natural environment impinges on and shapes the inner emotional landscape of the narrator, recalling her seven year old self from the perspective of a twentysomething tenured zoology professor at the University of Toronto. Kate might have a handle on invertebrates but she lacks understanding of her own kind, which leads almost to tragedy. Shakespearean in its evocation of human frailty and portrayal of an indifferent cosmos that would crush men’s souls as if they were flies, Crow Lake is masterfully written and satisfying in its depiction of life as a labour of love. All the characters are so vivid you can feel their body heat rising from the pages. Poignant too is the presentation of a host of minor figures, all townspeople and farmers who stand heroic amid the banality of their everyday lives.