Review of “Legends of the Lake”, by Philip Nork

There’s a campfire up on the hill, beside the rose garden.  A group of kids, still wet from swimming in the lake, are grouped around an old man.  He smiles as the kids around him argue among themselves as to what story they want to hear this night.

“I want to hear about the hamburger guy!”

“Nah, we heard that one last night.  Hey, Gramps, how about the one where Al Capone used to live here?  And the speak-easy, and the…”

“No, I wanna hear how he met Nana.”

And thus it goes at the Kron family cabin, every summer for over ninety years.  Four generations of relatives, most of whom get along at any given time.

Part “Tales from Lake Wobegon”, part tall tales of the Paul Bunyan variety, this book is a real gem.  It  takes the reader from when young Ed and Connie decide to buy a cottage at the lake in Wisconsin, up to when their 25-year-old great-grandson comes back for one last visit.  And in between are the tales and lore, the traditions and wisdom, that come from the rich tapestry known as family.

Every page is a visit with the Krons as kids grow up and move on, fights begin and end, and childhood friendships grow into love and marriage–sometimes.  The community is as much a part of their lives as their own blood kin, and Mr. Nork’s storytelling ability puts the reader directly in its midst.  The cabins, the campground with the old bait shop, the boardwalk, and the sun on the waves as it descends every night–these become a part of you as you read this tale.

Triumphant, poignant, bittersweet, joyful–we run the gamut of emotions in “Legends from the Lake”.

And you may find yourself saying, as you read the last page, the words made famous by Ed Kron:  “What a beautiful way for it to end…”

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