Kristin Hannah makes her hardcover debut with this poignant, tender, and true story of love, loss, passion, and the fragile threads that bind families together. Annie Colwater's only child has just left home for school abroad. On that same day, her husband of twenty years confesses that he's in love with a younger woman. Alone in the house that is no longer a home, Annie comes to the painful realization that for years she has been slowly disappearing. Lonely and afraid, she retreats to Mystic, the small Washington town where she grew up, hoping that there she can reclaim the woman she once was--the woman she is now desperate to become again. In Mystic, she is reunited with her first love, Nick Delacroix, a recent widower unable to cope with his grieving, too-silent six-year-old daughter, Izzie. Together, the three of them begin to heal, and, at last, Annie learns that she can love without losing herself. But just when she has found a second chance at happiness, her life is turned upside down again, and Annie must make a choice no woman should have to make. . . . On Mystic Lake is the story of one seemingly ordinary woman, but the novel speaks to all of us, to anyone who has ever had to choose between what is . . . and what could be. From the Hardcover edition.
In her first hardcover after a distinguished career in paperback romance (Home Again), Hannah shows what it takes for an author to make that defining leap. Never one to gush, she is more than ever disciplined in her writing, and the result is a clean, deep thrust into the reader's heart. Annie Colwater knows she's in for a spell of loneliness when her 17-year-old daughter, Natalie, leaves Southern California for a summer in London, but the teary airport farewell is just the beginning of a chaotic time. Blake, Annie's husband, tells her that he wants a divorce so he can start a new life with his sweetheart, a young partner in his law firm. Blake's a cad?a habitual philanderer, and the sort of father who forgets birthdays?but we don't totally blame him for bailing out. Annie is Natalie's doting mother, Blake's dutiful wife and otherwise barely there. In search of the self she must find to survive, Annie goes back to Mystic, Wash., and the home of her father, gruffly loving Hank Borne, who did his best to raise her after the early death of her mother. Maternal loss is a terrain Hannah seems to know to a harrowing fare-thee-well. Annie's redemption begins with her profound kindness to six-year-old Isabella Delacroix, whose mother, Kathy?once Annie's best friend?has recently died. A romance with alcoholic cop Nick, Isabella's father, unfolds tenderly and with suspense, for all its inevitability. When Annie discovers she is pregnant with Blake's child, and then gives birth prematurely to a tiny girl who may not survive, the phrase "page-turner" is redefined. In Hannah's world, nothing can be taken for granted and triumph must be earned, with hard work, truthful reckoning and tears. 100,000 first printing; first serial to Good Housekeeping; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club selections; film rights optioned by Hearst Entertainment; rights sold in the U.K., Germany, France, Sweden and China.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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April 03, 2000
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Excerpt from On Mystic Lake by Kristin Hannah
From Part One
The true voyage of self-discovery
lies not in seeking new landscapes
but in having new eyes.
Rain fell like tiny silver teardrops from the tired sky. Somewhere behind a bank of clouds lay the sun, too weak to cast a shadow on the ground below.
It was March, the doldrums of the year, still and quiet and gray, but the wind had already begun to warm, bringing with it the promise of spring. Trees that only last week had been naked and brittle seemed to have grown six inches over the span of a single, moonless night, and sometimes, if the sunlight hit a limb just so, you could see the red bud of new life stirring at the tips of the crackly brown bark. Any day, the hills behind Malibu would blossom, and for a few short weeks this would be the prettiest place on Earth.
Like the plants and animals, the children of Southern California sensed the coming of the sun. They had begun to dream of ice cream and popsicles and last year's cutoffs. Even determined city dwellers, who lived in glass and concrete high-rises in places with pretentious names like Century City, found themselves veering into the nursery aisles of their local supermarkets. Small, potted geraniums began appearing in the metal shopping carts, alongside the sun-dried tomatoes and the bottles of Evian water.
For nineteen years, Annie Colwater had awaited spring with the breathless anticipation of a young girl at her first dance. She ordered bulbs from distant lands and shopped for hand-painted ceramic pots to hold her favorite annuals.
But now, all she felt was dread, and a vague, formless panic. After today, nothing in her well-ordered life would remain the same, and she was not a woman who liked the sharp, jagged edges of change. She preferred things to run smoothly, down the middle of the road. That was where she felt safest--in the center of the ordinary, with her family gathered close around her.
These were the roles that defined her, that gave her life meaning. It was what she'd always been, and now, as she warily approached her fortieth birthday, it was all she could remember ever wanting to be. She had gotten married right after college and been pregnant within that same year. Her husband and daughter were her anchors; without Blake and Natalie, she had often thought that she might float out to sea, a ship without captain or destination.
But what did a mother do when her only child left home?
She shifted uneasily in the front seat of the Cadillac. The clothes she'd chosen with such care this morning, navy wool pants and a pale rose silk blouse, felt wrong. Usually she could take refuge in fashionable camouflage, by pretending to be a woman she wasn't. Designer clothes and carefully applied makeup could make her look like the high-powered corporate wife she was supposed to be. But not today. Today, the waist-length brown hair she'd drawn back from her face in a chignon--the way her husband liked it, the way she always wore it--was giving her a headache.
She drummed her manicured fingernails on the armrest and glanced at Blake, who was settled comfortably in the driver's seat. He looked completely relaxed, as if this were a normal afternoon instead of the day their seventeen-year-old daughter was leaving for London.
It was childish to be so scared, she knew that, but knowing didn't ease the pain. When Natalie had first told them that she wanted to graduate early and spend her last quarter in London, Annie had been proud of her daughter's independence. It was the sort of thing that seniors at the expensive prep school often did, and precisely the sophisticated sort of adventure Annie had wanted for her daughter.
Annie herself would never have had the courage for so bold a move--not at seventeen, not even now at thirty-nine. Travel had always intimidated her. Although she loved seeing new places and meeting new people, she always felt an underlying discomfort when she left home.
She knew this weakness was a remnant of her youth, a normal by-product of the tragedy that had tainted her childhood, but understanding her fear didn't alleviate it. On every family vacation, Annie had suffered from nightmares--dark, twisted visions in which she was alone in a foreign land without money or direction. Lost, she wandered through unfamiliar streets, searching for the family that was her safety net, until, finally, sobbing in her sleep, she awoke. Then, she would curl into her husband's sleeping body and, at last, relax.
She had been proud of her daughter's independence and courage in choosing to go all the way to England by herself, but she hadn't realized how hard it would be to watch Natalie leave. They'd been like best friends, she and her daughter, ever since Natalie had emerged from the angry, sullen rubble of the early teen years.