*Review* In The Lake of the Woods ~ Tim O’Brien

Goodreads Summary: First published to critical acclaim by Houghton Mifflin, Tim O’Brien’s celebrated classic In the Lake of the Woods now returns to the house in a gorgeous new Mariner paperback edition. This riveting novel of love and mystery from the author of The Things They Carried examines the lasting impact of the twentieth century’s legacy of violence and warfare, both at home and abroad. When long-hidden secrets about the atrocities he committed in Vietnam come to light, a candidate for the U.S. Senate retreats with his wife to a lakeside cabin in northern Minnesota. Within days of their arrival, his wife mysteriously vanishes into the watery wilderness.


In The Lake of the Woods by Tim O’Brien is a masterfully crafted tale of love, sadness, and desperation. I haven’t ever read a book quite like this one. It was emotionally challenging and mysterious, while still being a relatively easy read. Tim O’Brien has a way of making a war experience accessible for someone who has never experienced the trauma. However, while feeling present during the action, readers are still very much on the outside. I got the sense, while reading this book,  the reader isn’t really ever supposed to fully understand the experiences of the main characters. Though the characters are fully developed, certain details of their pasts are left out of the narrative in order to create a unique sense of mystery and allure. The structure of the book is also very different from other novels I have read in the past. Each chapter is labeled as Evidence, Hypothesis – Or, the reader is getting a first person account from the main character, Wade, a washed-up politician who also happens to be a Vietnam War Veteran. It’s hard not to like Wade. He is smart, charismatic, and entertaining. However, Wade hides a shadowy past and he uses his talent with magic as a diversion so that the people in his life won’t discover his deeds – including himself. He is constantly looking for the next angle and the best way to manipulate a situation to his advantage.  The real question is: Did he do it?  Is his wife’s disappearance the greatest illusion Sorcerer ever pulled?

Gold star

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