Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman Review

Book Club
Hey Everyone!
I hope you all had a great month of May! I have left a little bit longer before starting this discussion to give everyone time to receive their books and actually have chance to read them! A big thank you to William Morrow for kindly providing this months read.
I had heard about but had never read Laura Lippman before, and was intrigued to read something new. (On a side note I am going to her hometown of Baltimore this weekend for a visit!)
 Wilde Lake Laura Lippman

My review:

As a new reader of Laura Lippman, I must say I was instantly impressed with her writing – she is indisputably a very talented novelist and her personal tone was instantly captivating.
The story was gripping. Lu is working on a murder trial, and it transpires that it is interwoven into the very core of the family. Lippman successfully drew a parallel between every stage of the trial and the events of the past, and throughout her research, Lu discovers that fundamental truths about her family were in fact lies. This was interesting, and the story certainly didn’t lack in terms of twists and turns, with the reader genuinely not knowing what was going to happen one chapter to the next.
I found the pace of the book largely successful, and enjoyed the changing between third and first person. I would of preferred it to pick up a little bit towards the end, as it was consistently paced from start to finish without much of a build up to the end which didn’t do anything to add to the suspense.
The characters were very well conceptualised and lovingly created by Lippman. The constant personal details, down to Lu’s choice of salad without dressing, and heel hight of her boots meant that the reader really got to know the characters intimately. This therefore allowed you to become invested in the story, both in analysing what is happening with the trial, and discovering the truths about the family. Lu is a tough, very flawed and therefore very real main character. Her struggles with feminism, and living in the shadows of her father and brother are just part of her every day life, and therefore we come to sympathise with her quite soon into the book. This along with the fact that she wears her flaws on her sleeve make her very ordinary and likeable as a character.
I liked the transition between third and first person as I found it added a very real element and allowed the reader to get further into the story than an entire third person narrative would of allowed. This complimented the way the trial linked in so many ways to Lu’s family and personal life, and gave the reader an intimate opening into the entire workings of a family.
My one main gripe with the story was that I didn’t find the death of AJ to be convincing, and having got to know the characters well enough throughout the book I felt this wasn’t a believable ending for him. I thought that Lippman was trying too hard to create the usual dramatic crime ending, when in fact a resolution in another more subtle way would of been more beneficial.
I really enjoyed Wilde Lake, and look forward to discussing it over on the Cup Of Coffee Book Club or in the comments below.

Do you agree/disagree with my points above?

Discussion Questions:

  1. The novel is told from Lu’s perspective, but changes from first person to third person. How effective was this storytelling style ? Why did you think Laura Lippman chose to tell the story this way?
  2. Which character did you enjoy the most and which character did you find more successful?
  3. Would you say this book was more suitably classed as a crime fiction or a family drama and why?
  4. AJ Brant was very much the good boy as a child, who developed into a successful adult. What did you make of Lippmans treatment with him in the way she threw him into a midlife crisis and divorce, and in his ultimate death?Do you think these two events in AJ’s life suited his character? Why do you think she chose this path for him? Do you think his death was successful?
  5. What do you think Lippman is telling us about motherhood throughout the book? Why did she choose for Lu to be a mother to children who aren’t biologically hers, and for Lu’s mother to be clinically insane? Do you think these choices are significant in any way?

 

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