“Annie Colwater’s husband has just confessed that he’s in love with a younger woman. Devastated, Annie retreats to the small town where she grew up. There, she is reunited with her first love, Nick Delacroix, a recent widower who is unable to cope with his silent, emotionally scarred young daughter. Together, the three of them begin to heal. But just when Annie believes she’s been given a second chance at happiness, her world is turned upside down again, and she is forced to make a choice that no woman in love should ever have to make…”
I’ve been meaning to reread this book for a good long while now. And when you’re speed reading through a book you’ve already read, and you still manage to tear up–you know that what you have in your hands is a great story about love.
Thing is, much as the write-up makes it sound like a love story, what really drew me to this novel the first time (and again, the second time around) was that it was Annie’s love story with herself.
The book doesn’t spend a long time setting things up. From the get go, we see Annie losing a hold of the life she had lead for the last twenty years. And then we get glimpses of who she used to be before those twenty years. And then, the changes happen.
I really like how Kristin Hannah weaves Annie’s story. You see, Annie is a door mat. She likes to take care of people, without letting them take care of her. Without demanding that she be taken care of. Without complaint. And for the entirety of the novel, this doesn’t change. It’s who she is.
And yet, as the novel develops, you can see the changes in Annie. The choices she make in taking care of herself even while taking care of people… On Mystic Lake is the story of how Annie rediscovers who she is–without changing who she fundamentally is.
Of course there is change. Of course, by the end of the novel, Annie makes a grand romantic gesture. But nothing feels out of place.
I’ve read a few Kristin Hannah novels, and she’s one of my favorite romance writers. (Yes, I’m a guy who can enjoy chic-lit.) And that’s because Kristin Hannah knows her characters. And characters, more than plot twists, are what makes a good story great.