How a Woman Becomes a Lake is the story of a woman who goes missing in a fictional Pacific Northwest fishing town called Whale Bay on New Year’s Day of 1986. Vera, a filmmaker and university professor, takes her dog for a walk during a snowstorm at a popular recreational area called Squire Point and never returns. Seven characters tell the story of her disappearance, from the day she goes missing to the present day: the rookie policeman investigating the case; Vera’s husband; a father and his two little boys who were at Squire Point the same day she disappeared; their mother; and Vera herself. Over the course of the book, it becomes clear that some of the characters are telling the truth and others—not always.
"A thriller with stunning writing and real honesty about grief." –Stella Duffy, author of The Hidden Room
"To the reader picking up this book for the first time: I envy you, such is the pleasure, depth, and beauty of the journey you’re about to take. Haunting, deeply felt, ingeniously constructed, How A Woman Becomes a Lake is a supremely satisfying novel, masterful on every level. I could not put it down.” –Karen Thompson Walker, author of The Dreamers
“This is a rare book that is satisfying in every possible way. Beautifully written, clear-eyed and compassionate in its examination of character, it's also a gripping mystery that kept me reading late into the night. The story, and the questions it raises about love, loss, and family, will stay with me for a long time.” –Leah Stewart, author of What You Don't Know About Charlie Outlaw
“It is not lightly that I say: I could not put this book down. Celona’s writing possesses the clearness and poetry of a compassionate, all-seeing ghost. Each time a character crossed the page, I felt absorbed by their consciousness, invited to see the story from a fresh, insistent perspective. On the one hand, How a Woman Becomes a Lake offers a felt study of guilt, grief and blame. On the other, the story will challenge your conceptions of love, which can be greedy, as well as sacrificial and absolving.” –Eliza Robertson, author of Demi-Gods
“This book has moved into me; it occupies and haunts me. Marjorie Celona writes with an empathy that manages to be both enveloping and exact. How a Woman Becomes a Lake is about what it’s like to long for your most secret self to be understood, while fearing that such understanding might kill you. It is a feral, echoing, complicatedly vulnerable work of art.” –Sara Peters, author of I Become a Delight to My Enemies
A woman’s disappearance sends out ripples of enduring questions. What happens when darkness is handed down from one generation to the next? How do secrets kept out of love warp the people who keep them? Marjorie Celona wraps powerful ideas about care-taking and morality around a tight, elegantly suspenseful story. This is a beautifully written book that I read compulsively, in a single sitting, all the way through to its haunting end. –Alix Ohlin, author of Dual Citizens