The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards Viking HK$216 Kim Edwards' last novel, The Memory Keeper's Daughter, spent 122 weeks on The New York Times best-seller list, has been translated into 38 languages, and featured on that sure barometer for greatness, the TV show Richard & Judy. Fans then might be disappointed by Edwards' latest offering, The Lake of Dreams, a family saga that aims high but fails to excite. The Lake of Dreams has a promising start. It is spring and Lucy Jarrett, an attractive 29-year-old American, lives in a house in Japan that shakes with tiny earthquakes. The quakes are both real and a metaphor for Lucy's troubled soul as she mourns for her father who drowned 10 years earlier. Haunting her is a palpable guilt: in a scene played over and over again in the book her father asks her to go fishing in the lake near their house. Lucy is then a teenager, in love, rebellious and too aloof to say yes; she goes upstairs to her room and he goes out alone to his watery death. Water provides the axis of the novel. Lucy is a hydrologist yet, when her father is pulled out, all she can think is that his eyes look 'like a fish'. Water, Lucy tells her young students in Japan when she teaches English, 'moves forever in a circle; someday, little ones, your grandchildren may even drink your tears'. Edwards is best in these lyrical moments where one can almost touch the wistful ache. Sadly, The Lake of Dreams fails to hold attention for long. As Lucy travels back to America, uncovering a family history that has remained buried for decades, the plot falters. Her discoveries centre on letters written by a long-dead relative. These, combined with cryptic images stamped into the stained glass windows of a local church, fuel the plot. The fusion of the written and visual worlds is an intriguing premise; but the voice in the letters fails to convince. Lucy herself is a persuasive and thoughtful character, but others descend into clich?. Not least her teenage love, the motorcycling hunk Keegan Fall, who re-enters her life as an adult in a twist that screams of chick-lit. There is no doubt that Edwards is a talented writer and The Lake of Dreams has soaring highs in its language and scope. Above all, Edwards is adept at quietly giving care and soul to the most mundane of activities: checking e-mail, having a glass of wine on the porch, or job searching. But these are not enough. Ultimately, the mystery at the centre of the novel just never seems that pressing.