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I found The Glass Lake a very enjoyable read and it was very hard to put down. It is set in Ireland in a rural village. The story focuses on the main character Kit McMahon and her relationship with her mother Helen McMahon.
Helen McMahon who was very beautiful and glamourous was deserted by her lover. She then marries Martin Mcmahon and moves to a small village called Lough Glass. They had two children Kit and Emmet. She was not very happy even though she appeared to have everything. She was still restless and was hankering after the man called Louis who had broken her heart before she has married Martin McMahon..
Then one day she vanishes leaving a note address to Martin. Kit her daughter finds the note before Martin does and thinks that her Mother had committed suicide. But she had runaway to England with her previous lover Louis.
Kit found it hard growing up without her mother and with the stigma of her mother's death. They were Catholics and they frowned upon anyone taking their lives. There were many friends and mentors which helped her to mature and then she has a close relationship by lettere with a Lena Gray who claims to be a very good friend of her Mother's. Helen. Kit did not realise that Lena Gray was actually her mother. So the story then tells us how Kit finds out that her mother is alive and is Lena Gray.
The Main Characters are:
Kit McMahon who is the main character who starts of when she is 13 then at the end of the book is a student in Hotel Management and building up a career.She becomes a very strong person and has her mother's good looks.
Helen McMahon/Lena Gray who is Kit's Mother and the wife of Martin. Beautiful but unhappy. Runs off to London to be with her lover Louis and changes her name to Lena Gray. She has a very successful career in England at an employment agency.
Martin McMahon who is Kit's father was the chemist in the village. He was very happy living in Lough Glass and playing golf with his best friend. Martin is avery kind man and raises his two children the best way that he can. Always being very positive about their mother.
Emmet McMahon is Kit's brother who is younger than she is. He only comes into the story later on in the book. He has an obsessive love for Anna Kelly who is very similar to his mother.
Clio Kelly is the best friend of Kit, their relationship rather up and down. Clio is smart and beautiful and she went to University to find herself a rich husband.
Louis Gray is Lena's lover handsome and unfaithful to Lena.
Stevie Sullivan the boy friend of Kits who is very handsome . He had many affairs with girls around the village. He falls in love with Kit but kit's mother was very concerned by their relationship as she thinks her daughter could be going down the same path as herself with a handsome man who is unfaithful.
I have read several of Maeve Binchy's novels this is one of her better ones I feel.
Kit McMahon lives in the small Irish town of Lough Glass, near the shores of a big lake. Her father is a pharmacist, her mother is a loving and impetuous woman who likes to be free of all restraint. The novel opens in 1952 when Kit is twelve, attending a convent school with her best friend Clio. A few chapters into the book, a dramatic event takes place that changes her family's lives permanently.
This is a book to read over several days, and to savour. I first read it about six or seven years ago, and recently tried it again. I liked it considerably better second time around. At nearly 700 pages it's not a quick read anyway, and it's not the kind of novel that's meant to be raced through. By the time the book ends Kit is at college and in the throes of a love affair: a confident young woman who has matured and developed in many ways over the six or seven years since we first met her.
But it isn't just a family saga, although that's the genre and the setting for this novel. It's a very well-written piece of Irish social history. Through Kit's eyes we see the rapidly changing view of society in the post-war years. It looks without judgement at issues such as attitudes to divorce, unmarried motherhood, and working wives. It also examines deeper questions: is it right to keep some secrets forever? Are 'white lies' a good thing when they protect other people? How strong are the ties of blood?
So it's quite a thought-provoking book, and mostly believable too. There are some delightful minor characters such as Sister Madeleine, a hermit nun who dispenses wise advice to almost everyone in Lough Glass. There are several romantic threads, mostly low-key. I like the style of writing, which is straightforward without too much description; I don't think I skimmed anything and I didn't find any section of conversation that jarred or seemed unrealistic. The various sub-plots worked well together; one slight (but significant) unlikely coincidence towards the end didn't spoil the book at all for me.
And yet... enjoyable though it was, I can't quite award it five stars. It was good, but not brilliant. Nowhere was I moved to tears despite some sadnesses in the story. Perhaps more importantly, I didn't find myself truly empathising with anyone. There are several likeable characters, but right through the book I felt like an outside observer who wished them well, not someone who knew and cared for them. Perhaps this is because the author changes viewpoint several times. The story is told in the third person, and while much of it centres on Kit, it switches around to other perspectives too. It's well-done - there's no feeling of discontinuity or confusion, but it gave me a fly-on-the-wall feeling rather than the sense of being personally involved.
So four stars. I can hardly give it less, as it was undoubtedly a good book. It would be ideal to take on a holiday, to read on a flight or at the beach, since it's fairly engrossing while reading, but easy enough to put down in between times. Recommended to anyone (adult or teenager) who enjoys family sagas, or 1950s social history.
Amazon.co.uk have the paperback edition for sale at £5.59 after their usual 20% discount. For such a lengthy book, this is good value. They also often have some second-hand editions at their Marketplace, and there are large print copies available too. For those who prefer to listen to books on tape, there are audio versions: an abridged Hodder & Stoughton one at £10.49, or the full unabridged Chivers audio book at a rather pricey £49.29.
I have read plenty of Maeve Binchy’s novels and found this one the most difficult to get into. If you have a copy and are having trouble do plough on as the story is a little slow to get all the characters introduced. Once you have read on I am sure you will be hooked, as I was. The story is set in Ireland and the main characters comprise of a family of four who live in a house near The Glass Lake, father Martin McMahon, mother Helen McMahon, son and daughter Kit and Emmet. Martin loves Helen but knows she doesn’t love him, Helen loves Louis, an old flame, 12 years and two children on she has still not forgotten him. So when he contacts her from London and asks her to go to him she disappears from Ireland in the night taking nothing with her and leaving only a note as an explanation. The night she leaves a boat is found upturned on the lake near the McMahon house, everyone assumes that Helen has drowned. Kit finds the note and assumes that it is a suicide letter, without reading it she throws it into the Aga in order that no one knows that her mother has committed suicide and therefore would not be buried in the local graveyard. Following is an intriguing tale that will keep you up in the night and snatching a few pages here and there throughout the day. The characters, especially Helen and Kit are bought alive through Binchy’s words and the reader is easily able to imagine the village of Lough Glass and all the folk who live there. I also recommend Tara Road and Scarlet Feather also by Maeve Binchy.
On the Irish lakeside town of Lough Glass, the life of Kit McMahon's family is drastically changed when her mother disappears.