“A powerful sense of place pervades Maxwell’s accomplished . . . debut. The novel tells the bittersweet tale of Alice Thorton . . . and the potent history of the women in her birth family. . . . Luminous.” —Allison Block, Booklist
A haunting, luminous debut novel set in a small New Hampshire town: the story of the crisscrossing of lives, within and without family, and of one woman, given up for adoption as a baby, searching for the truth about her life.
As an infant, Alice Thorton was discovered in Kettleborough, New Hampshire, in a boathouse by the lake; adopted by a young, childless couple; raised with no knowledge of the women who came before her: Eleonora, who brought her family to Bear Island, the nearly uninhabitable scrap of land in Kettleborough’s lake; Signe, the maiden aunt who nearly drowned in the lake, ashamed of her heart; Sophie, the grandmother who turned a blind eye to her unwanted granddaughter. Alice grows up aching for an acceptance she can’t quite imagine, trying to find it first with an older man, then with one who can’t love her back, and finally in the love she feels for one she has never met. And all the while she feels a mysterious pull to the lake. As Alice edges ever closer to her past, Lake People beautifully evokes the interweaving of family history and individual fate, and the intangible connections we feel to the place where we were born.
Praise for Lake People
“Full of missing family, Maxwell’s debut novel begins and ends with Alice. . . . Though the reader knows the secret of Alice’s birth from the start, recognizing hints throughout her childhood, Alice doesn’t find out she was adopted until her mid-twenties. Yet she feels the relentless pull of the lake and the boathouse where she was first found. Maxwell’s writing has a whispery, brooding, atmospheric feel that conveys Alice’s fragility while capturing both the lushness of the region and its claustrophobic effect on Alice. . . . Compelling.” —Pamela Mann, Library Journal
“I read this novel almost without stopping—it’s a riveting book, with quiet lyrical power. It’s also inventive, wonderfully strange, hard-headed, and genuinely enchanting. A very impressive debut.” —Joan Silber, author of National Book Award finalist Ideas of Heaven
“Abi Maxwell’s beautifully imagined debut novel tells the story of Alice Thorton’s search for the truth about her past and the mysterious lake that calls her home. Woven with secrets, danger, and a family history both magical and dark, Lake People held me spellbound until the last haunting page.” —Amy Greene, author of Bloodroot
“Lake People is one of the most astonishing novels I have read in a decade. Abi Maxwell steps into the literary world with a book that rivals Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping.” —Debra Magpie Earling, author of Perma Red
“Lake People is intricate, lovely and wise. Abi Maxwell trusts her stories and her talent, and the result is that rarity among first novels—one that possesses the substance and burnish of a classic.” —Deirdre McNamer, author of Red Rover
Abi Maxwell was born and raised in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, where she currently lives. She studied fiction writing at the University of Montana and now works as an assistant librarian at the Gilford Public Library. This is her first book.