How long did memories last? Did they expire like medicines, get thick and unusable like old paint? -From Lost Geography, page 63-
I attended the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference in June of 2002 and had the pleasure of meeting Charlotte Bacon who was a presenter at the conference. Since she is a professor at the University of New Hampshire, we had geography in common – and I quickly bought her book which she autographed for me. Why I have waited more than five years to actually read this wonderful novel, I cannot tell you.
Lost Geography is Bacon’s debut novel (she has since published two other novels). The book spans nearly sixty years and follows four generations of a multicultural family. Bacon takes the reader around the world from the rural farmlands of Saskatchewan to the urban bustle of Toronto to the glamorous, brightly lit streets of Paris to the fog laden shops of London to the dusty roadways of Istanbul and finally to the glitter of New York City.
Bacon’s fine sense of place and lyrical descriptions make the novel a delight to read. But it is her gift at creating honest and convincing characters that keeps the reader turning the pages. Bacon uses the characters’ memories and experiences to bind them together through the years, showing us that family stories can connect one generation to the other. The idea of loss and survival, and making one’s unique way in the world while staying connected to those we love are strong themes in Lost Geography. Reading this novel was like sinking into a tub and letting the warm water wash over me. Bacon’s prose is genuine and gorgeously constructed; her characters will make you laugh and cry; and her pitch perfect descriptions of place will set you firmly in the story.