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The Lake Boy

The Lake Boy by Adam Robert

Newcon Press, ebook, £2.99,

Reviewed by Sarah Deeming

Cynthia lives with her brother, George, the local minister of a small parish in Cumbria. The hope is the remoteness of this new parish will cure Cynthia of her sinfulness. As she strives to contain her sexuality, Cynthia has visions of a boy, sometimes in church, sometimes outside, always connected to the lake where astrologers are camped on the shore watching strange lights in the sky. Are these things separate, or are they connected to Cynthia’s illicit relationship with a married woman?

The Lake Boy is a novella about a young woman trying to live an eighteenth-century religious life as a minister’s unmarried sister. Her sexual preference for women is already known and the reason the brother and sister have come to this remote part of Cumbria. We never find out how her brother discovered Cynthia’s sexuality, but it means her every move is monitored, making her already restricted life even harder. It felt like an authentic depiction of how her life would have been at that time, and I really felt for her.

I found this to be a book of two parts. The first part, the majority of the book, feels like an exploration of historical religious reviews regarding same-sex relationships, sympathetically on the side of Cynthia yet not wholly against her brother, who has stood by his sister and is trying to carve out a life and livelihood for himself. When Cynthia’s secret is discovered, her treatment is very sad as a modern-day reader but accurate for the time, and the writing is of a high quality. However, when we get to the end, and we start uncovering the truth behind the boy and the lights in the sky, things start feeling a little rushed and less well-thought-out. I’m not completely certain I understand where they fit into the overall story.

That said, the rest of the book is of such a quality that I didn’t mind too much about this confusing ending, and I would definitely read other books by Adam Roberts. Plus, at the price, it is a great little taster of the author’s potential, so it is definitely worth a go. Recommended.

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